Many believe agricultural subsidies from Washington help sustain Kentucky’s small family farms. The truth is, most of the funds go to the largest, wealthiest operations. Ten percent of Kentucky farmers grabbed more than $1.2 billion of the $1.5 billion that flowed into the commonwealth between 1995 and 2009.
Click here to listen to the 90-second audio commentary.
One of our frequent, though often misinformed correspondents posted a sweeping comment on a recent blog that:
“…charter schools don’t want anything to do with special education, homeless or migrant children.”
That is another piece of uninformed, overly generalized opinion such as that frequently pushed by self-interested teachers’ union folks and their fellow travelers.
Just ask knowledgeable people in New York City. An article about the state of New York lifting its cap on charter schools so more charters can be created to specially serve students with disabilities points out that:
“…while charters (in New York City) enroll fewer students with disabilities, the gap is not as large as initially reported by the state teachers union, known as NYSUT. According to Department of Education data, 13 percent of charter school students have an Individualized Education Plan, indicating that they have special needs, compared to 15 percent at traditional public schools. NYSUT reported the numbers as being 9.4 percent at charter schools and 16.4 percent at district schools.”
So, the truth is that the spread in charter school enrollment of students with learning disabilities in the ‘Big Apple’ is only two points, not the very large seven point spread the teachers’ union would have us believe.
Like I said earlier, our correspondent got fooled by union propaganda. Don’t fall into the same trap.
If you want to get a more rounded viewpoint, click the ‘Read more’ link below.
While there are reports that some charters tend to encourage students with disabilities not to come to their school when they lack the necessary resources to serve those students, a paper from the US Department of Education’s Educational Resource Information Center indicates this isn’t a universal situation.
Some of the study findings summarized in this paper say:
•Enrollment of students with more significant disabilities in charter schools is relatively rare, except in schools specifically designed for these students.
•Parents of students with disabilities enroll their child in a charter school for a combination of reasons related to attractive features of the charter school and negative experiences with the previously attended school.
•Staff at some charter schools may “counsel” parents of students with disabilities against enrolling in the charter school. However, other schools are specifically designed to serve these students and other at-risk learners.
These observations are probably partly a result of the varied mission focuses in charter schools, which is tied to a basic concept that charters should be educational laboratories. Lab studies tend to be specialized, and charters naturally follow the same pattern.
What is key is that the US government recognizes that some charters have specifically been formed to work with learning disabled and at-risk students, which would include the poor and English language learners our correspondent also alleges are not served in charter schools.
If our commentator had done even a little Google searching before spouting off, he would have learned that the charter/learning- disabled/English-learner situation is more positive than some special interest groups like the teachers’ union would like us to believe.
The New York Daily News shines another light on the charter situation in New York City with this article that says the city spent $102 million in 2008 to send its learning disabled students to PRIVATE schools. The News calls for more charters that focus on these special needs students as a way to control those costs, citing a cap on the number of charter schools as the reason this is not happening.
The Summit Charter School in Maitland, Florida, specifically serves learning disabled students.
There are a lot more examples. Find them by using the key phrase “charter school for learning disabled students” in Google.
Jim Waters, Bluegrass Institute vice president of policy and communications, guest hosts on WBFI’s BBC morning show from 7 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. (CST) Thursday, Friday, Monday and Tuesday (Sept. 9, 10, 13 and 14).
The program can be heard by 350,000 listeners throughout central Kentucky. Listen at 91.5 FM (McDaniels/Leitchfield), 97.1 FM (Ft. Knox, Radcliff) and 100.9 FM (Harford/Beaver Dam). Click here to listen online.
Jim will interview policymakers and movers and shakers in Kentucky’s freedom movement at 8 a.m. each day.
“In essence, school choice is like a catalytic converter – accelerating the benefits of other elements of education reform. I don’t believe that school choice by itself is the answer to the challenges we face. But certainly, as part of a comprehensive strategy, it is very meaningful.” –Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush at the recent National Conference of State Legislatures conference in Louisville
Education Week reports (subscription) about an analysis by the International Association for K-12 Online Learning of the 16 finalist states’ Race to the Top proposals.
Per the association, the winners were ready to use RTTT funds to offer more online opportunities.
There were also plans in the winning states to replace mandatory seat time with a competency-based progression system where kids could advance to the next level once they mastered skills. Such an approach allows fast learners to move ahead while slower learners still get the extra time they need to learn the material. On line learning can make such programs work much more effectively.
Here in Kentucky, we also have a virtual learning system, but as I point out in the Bluegrass Institute’s recently released paper, “Virtual schooling in Kentucky: Great promise with challenges,” it is under-utilized and poorly advertised. Perhaps the RTTT judges looked at that and decided Kentucky isn’t a leader in this area (which I suspect we are not).
Regardless of RTTT, I think that virtual schooling systems offer a lot of potential to improve education for many students in Kentucky. I also think these advanced educational systems can work much more efficiently than our current system.
Virtual schooling won’t be a suitable approach for all our kids, but it may reach many of today’s students far better than traditional classrooms – especially those dropping out – if we do a decent job of letting students know they have the option and then run the program intelligently.