The Bluegrass Institute for Public Policy Solutions, Kentucky’s first and only free-market think tank, joins with hundreds of groups nationwide to celebrate the fifth annual National School Choice Week (Jan. 24-30). Since its beginning more than 12 years ago, the Bluegrass Institute has been the leading voice to give Kentucky parents effective alternatives to ensure that each child receives a quality education. As part of National School Choice Week, the Bluegrass Institute will publish a series of blogs offering information on school choice. This series will be one of 16,000 events nationwide taking place as part of this year’s National School Choice Week.
Former charter-school teacher Ava-Margeaux Tierney recently authored an op-ed published by the Louisville Courier-Journal in which she claims that her primary reason for claiming charter schools are a “gargantuan mistake” for Kentucky is that they:
… are largely about allowing corporations and private entrepreneurs to profit from public money, without necessarily being a public benefit. … In other words, students and legitimate teaching and learning become second to making profits for investors – and those profits are guaranteed because they are using public money.
However, as Western Kentucky University education professor and Bluegrass Institute scholar Gary Houchens notes:
Data collected by the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools shows that only about 12% of charter schools nation-wide are run by for-profit education management organizations (EMO’s). Twenty percent are run by non-profit chains, usually called charter-management organizations (CMO’s). The highly regarded Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP) charter organization is an example. The rest – 67% of charter schools – are free-standing, independent charters run by groups of teachers, parents, public school districts, or other local entities.
Plus, when it comes to how students are performing in charters, Houchens, Ph.D., points to data from the 2013 Center for Research in Educational Outcomes (CREDO) study making it clear that:
… when students spend more than a year in a public charter school – especially if that student is from a low-income family or a minority – they do tend to achieve at higher levels than their demographically-similar peers in traditional public schools. These students from low-income and minority families are the ones who stand to benefit most from charter schools, especially in urban areas.
Thoughtful readers of Tierney’s rant must wonder how she became such an expert on charter schools run by greedy, for-profit corporations when the bylaws of the Newark Educators Community School where she previously taught describe it as “a nonprofit corporation under the laws of the State of New Jersey.”
Also, while Tierney indicates she resigned as a teacher from the school in June 2014 she doesn’t say how long she was employed there.
Could it be that she was, as her own words describe, some of the “dead weight” that can be fired by the administration of a charter school “without probable cause and proper documentation.”
If there’s clearly “dead weight” in a school, shouldn’t that be cleared out so that the real purpose of public schools – traditional, charter or magnet – take place: to ensure the kids succeed?
Doesn’t the fact that a teacher is “dead weight” offer enough “probable cause” in and of itself to fire him or her as quickly as possible so that they cannot continue to fail students?
The New Jersey charter school that Tierney taught at as an elementary school teacher was itself opened in 2009 by former principals and public school teachers, including Joyce Kornegay, who was a principal for several years after working “with a wide range of students including English Language Learners and special education students,” according to her bio on the school’s website.
Could Tierney’s criticisms of charter schools be mixed with sour grapes for having failed to meet the high standards set by the experienced educators who serve as administrators of a high-performing charter school?
It’s likely, since it’s certainly isn’t based on facts.