Today Jeb Bush is visiting the Missouri capital to share his “education wisdom” with our lawmakers. And why not? Florida is doing great. Secretary Devos said everyone should emulate Florida. They have lots of charter schools and require that every child be able to read by third grade. Bush’s Foundation for Excellence in Education has been saying that things are just peachy in Florida since the former Governor’s plans have been put in place. I wonder, however, if he will bring up these issues.
Charter school expansion has led to a class of hidden drop outs.
A Propublica Investigation revealed a practice in Florida (and to be fair in other states as well) where students who were struggling academically or had behavioral issues were encouraged to attend alternative (read charter) schools. This skews the test scores and graduation rates upwards at the home school without them having to change anything like teachers or curriculum. Choice advocates don’t like to acknowledge this popular abuse of the system. No one talks about the fact that these choice students often ended up in places which merely warehoused them for the day. The Propublica investigation found at one charter school:
“[A]lternative classes are sometimes taught in crumbling buildings, school basements, trailers and strip malls. Some lack textbooks and, in many, students sit in front of computers all day instead of engaging with teachers.
Students sit for four hours a day in front of computers with little or no live teaching. One former student said he was left to himself to goof off or cheat on tests by looking up answers on the internet. A current student said he was robbed near the strip mall’s parking lot, twice.
Public policy intended to help actually has the opposite effect. More from Propublica.
Barbara Fedders, a law professor at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, said alternative schools too frequently fail to halt students’ downward trajectory, simply isolating them, instead.
Rather than lifting the performance of marginal students, alternative schools serve too often as way stations for future dropouts. While just 6 percent of regular schools have graduation rates below 50 percent, our analysis found nearly half of alternative schools do.
Using technology to deliver individualized education, going at your own pace, leaves some charter students behind, not ahead[…]