Charter School Epic Fail

St. Louis is scrambling to find space for 3,500 students when 6 charter schools were forced to close due to poor student performance.

More than 3,500 students will be displaced when a network of St. Louis charter schools run by Virginia-based Imagine Schools Inc. closes in what may be the largest shutdown of its kind in the United States.

Officials are trying to find spots for students in St. Louis Public Schools and other charter schools in the city after the Missouri Board of Education decided Tuesday to close the six campuses.


Missouri education officials cited problems with the schools, including scores on the state’s standardized tests that were well below those of St. Louis Public Schools. Other issues included rent and administrative costs that took dollars from the classroom to the for-profit management company that runs them.

Of course the taxpayers of St. Louis will end up footing the bill for yet another privatization failure.  Can we stop pretending that the private sector is the answer to public education instead of a giant tax money vacuum setup by private companies desperate to find new sources of captive revenue?

In the end, the charter school movement stems from the same pathological privatization fervor that is gripping the US prison system.  It is designed to extract tax money from the public sector and nothing more.


Related Articles

19 thoughts on “Charter School Epic Fail

  1. The WI fiscally conservative repoublicans are way ahead of you on this. They are increasing private/charter schools and decreasing how much we can ever find out about them. What we don’ know we won’t have to pay for.

  2. SO Missouri failed, has nothing to do with all os the success in Wisconsin. The only way a child gets a education of quality in this state are private schools, charter schools or home schooling. The public school systems is over flowing with bad teachers. poor performances and radical indoctrination of the far left agenda supported by WEAC and other dangerous groups.For that last five years I have worked non stop to educate parents to this danger and help them find proper educational resources away from the thumb of WEAC

    1. If you submitted that thesis in a freshman comp class you’d get a big fat fail.

    2. Most of that is simply not true. You won’t catching me defending WEAC – I believe they cause more harm that good in public education.

      I won’t comment on other areas (most especially MPS) but my experience in the Fox Valley area (myself for a decade and now my kids) is that by far most public teachers around here are good, and many excellent. Certainly there are some poor teachers – I have a classmate who posts on facebook & if she’s not bitching about the “rotten” kids in her class, it’s something about drinking alcohol. The fact that she’s dumb enough to post that sort of stuff probably says enough.

      We need to be able to get the bad apples out of schools & away from our kids. For some positions posted, there’s literally hundreds of qualified candidates so no shortage of capable people fill in for them (except in a few subject areas). But the schools around here most certainly are not overflowing with bad teachers.

  3. Ah yes and the homes are filled with such good teachers… Only they can protect children form the “liberal agenda” of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics…

  4. Hmm, Virginia-based charter school group was the one who failed, eh? Wonder if they’re related to the Koch-funded CEO group from Virginia that tried to pull that garbage study about UW-Madison last year. I bet you’ll find some common funders if you look deeper.

    And I also bet that ALEC (and their front men like Robin Vos) are re-doubling their efforts on school privatizations now that they’re backing off the hillbilly social issues. Like most things in GOP world, they want all the taxpayer dollars, and none of the accountability that goes with it. DISGUSTING.

  5. Dante would get an “A” in Propaganda for working so many right-wing, AFP and Club for Growth talking points –or outright lies– into one paragraph, but he probably just did a cut and paste job. The truth is the charter school grifters don’t want oversight and testing because they don’t measure up to the standards of public schools and they know it. Public oversight does make a difference. The motto over the charter school doors should read “Take the Money and Run”.

    The religious schools at least have some moral commitment to their students. The private charter schools just see their students as little walking “profit centers”. Their grift is to open a charter school, milk the taxpayers as long as possible, while kicking-back protection money to the Cons, before moving on to the next community of suckers.

  6. Right on Gareth- the ALEC boys don’t want to improve education or do it cheaper. They just want to GET PAID,and they don’t care about results.

  7. Too bad public schools are never closed due to poor performance. Or even fire a bad teacher.

    1. That was my initial reaction – to wonder if Phil & others would so enthusiastically shut down all failing schools. The argument usually seems to be that we need to dump more money into them.

      The science of education has improved tremendously in the last few decades – at least in part, because new approaches have been attempted (and in many cases, failed). In many cases, the most resistant to newer and in most cases, well-proven changes to education have been older, stuck-in-their-ways teachers – at least some of whom have stomped their feet & taken early retirement due to Act 10 & are replaced by “teachers I can work with” as my Assistant Principal brother says.

      1. We need to dump more money into them to systematically change public schools. Smaller class sizes, more teachers, to not do repetition that would bore the gifted students and frustrate the students who are lagging behind who can’t keep up. Specifically in the mathematical area is where I see the biggest problem. The students even see this, this is why you have angry students often protesting in the inner cities when their school gets shut down. Hell, I would even suggest our schools to be run similarly to colleges — have them year round, six days a week, with a ‘break’ in between.

        The problem is, our private school system and our public school system are running on a fucked up teaching system, where we are simply memorizing test scores, but not the formulas, historical facts, or actual grammar.

        Also: as a curious question – what do you define a bad teacher? A lot of parents feel entitled that their kids get perfect scores, throwing a fit at Parent Teacher Conferences when their kid is text messaging in class. So I’m genuinely curious.

        1. Smaller class sizes, more teachers,

          Generally speaking, smaller class sizes are good – but not a panacea and dependent on other things (type of class, quality of teacher, involvement & discipline of parent) that can have a much bigger impact. Give me a 35:1 ratio with great teachers over a 15:1 ratio of crappy ones any day. As to how do you tell whether they’re good or bad teachers…I’m guessing headed towards the “test results aren’t fair and it’s too subjective” direction. The rest of the world has performance evals of employees for jobs & performance that are no less subjective. Again – the science of education has plenty of good answers to this. Peer review, administrator review, test scores and input from parents should all be used. At good districts, these things are all being used now. Bad teachers aren’t fired – they’re put on performance plans, given more support, mentoring, etc. But in some cases, they just say, “Nope, can’t make me do it, it’s not in the contract.” It’s ironic to me that some one in the teaching profession would refuse to learn – to attempt to improve themselves. And worse, that the professional organization representing them supports them, but for whatever reason, protecting the bad seems more important than helping the good.

          to not do repetition that would bore the gifted students and frustrate the students who are lagging behind who can’t keep up. Specifically in the mathematical area is where I see the biggest problem.

          Again – on this I can’t speak to what other districts are doing, but with my kids, I’m just amazed at how good the teachers & curriculum are at dealing with this. This was a big concern we had – school (at least K-12 anyway) always came easy for me & I did very well, but would get bored at times when things had to slow down for the slowest kids. My daughter is very strong academically but is easily distracted (school diagnosed her with Aspergers though clinically, psychologists don’t which is a whole other discussion). Anyway, in their school (at least though 4th grade that I’ve seen first hand) the level of customizing that they do for the kids is really something. It’s nothing like when I was in grade school in 30 years ago. In particular, the math & reading classes are designed to accommodate a wide range of abilities and allow both the fastest slowest learners to proceed at best pace they can.

          To sum up – if you’re doing it wrong, spending more money on doing it wrong isn’t really going to help.

        2. Also: as a curious question – what do you define a bad teacher? A lot of parents feel entitled that their kids get perfect scores, throwing a fit at Parent Teacher Conferences when their kid is text messaging in class. So I’m genuinely curious.

          Wanted to respond to this one on it’s own. I’ll answer you’re hypothetical with a not-so-hypothetical…

          Single parent kid – mother is an alcoholic. High school daughter is having a lot of problems in school, acting out, etc. (And recently stole the her mom’s car, police involved but no charges pressed). The Assistant Principal manages to actually get the mother to come in for a meeting with him, the guidance counselor and another teacher. In the middle of the meeting the counselor gets up and leaves. When the AVP talks to her about it the next day, there was no emergency, nothing critical. Sole reason given was, “it’s 3:17 and the contract says you can’t make me stay longer.”

          THAT is a bad teacher (ok I guess technically not teacher but principle is the same). Had I not heard the story first hand I’d assume it was made up. I was dumbfounded – “well can’t you do something about that?” The answer was, nope – the union will back her – we have a handful of other teachers that do this as well, 3:17 they are out the door. That’s what their contract says, we cannot make them stay later if they don’t want to.

          Where else would a situation like that be – not only tolerated, but defended?

          I don’t like all of Act 10. I don’t like how big the cuts were even if districts were given ways to help pay for those cuts. But it also fixes some things that I’m not sure could have could have been addressed otherwise.

          1. Locke

            1. To sum up – if you’re doing it wrong, spending more money on doing it wrong isn’t really going to help.

            Agreed but 1. I dont necessarily think we are doing it wrong and 2. No where has any of the “reforms” enacted by the walker admin and his republican followers had a thing to do with bettering education. It has all been about saving money in education. At NO time(I dont think im wrong here) has Walker ever talked about ways that his reforms will give us a more educated citizenry, all he veer talks about is having”flexibility” to make up for his cuts.

            Secondly…Your other story, There has to be a back story on that. 99.99 % of teachers would not do that DESPITE the fact that they SHOULD! Teachers(in the vast vast vast majority sense) have been working way longer hours than they have been contracted for and you never heard complaints(for the most part) and now a new group of politicians come in and completely demonize them, talk about how overpaid they are and the gravy train they are on. Now you want them to continue putting in an extra couple hours a night? while too many still do, I do not blame them one bit.

            In Greenfield for instance the teachers there should be in their carat 3:17:01 after the way they were treated recently.

            1. Agreed but 1. I dont necessarily think we are doing it wrong and 2. No where has any of the “reforms” enacted by the walker admin and his republican followers had a thing to do with bettering education.

              I certainly think many are doing a great job especially given it’s a very tough job to balance quality education and costs. But I’m convinced the struggling districts’ problems are much more about “how” than “how much.” We’ll have to agree to disagree on the reforms – I believe empowering the districts administrators is a better way to reform things than dictates from Madison. But we’ve had a tremendous District Administrator so that probably skews me that direction. Unfortunately, she is retiring so maybe that will change my perspective. But local control isn’t just a buzzword for me, I really do believe that it’s better to have power in the hands of the people who I see in the community & can pick up the phone or stop in to talk to than guys in Madison or DC.

              There has to be a back story on that. 99.99 % of teachers would not do that DESPITE the fact that they SHOULD!

              I don’t know. He obviously left out some specifics (names, etc) when he told me. But I don’t believe he left out any mitigating circumstances. He was just extremely frustrated because it was a tough situation, a kid who really needed help & a parent who he’d had a very difficult time getting engaged, so the lost opportunity had him about as frustrated as I’ve seen him.

              As far as saying that teachers should do that – that’s fine. But then that means give up on fighting to be respected as professionals. Professionals are required to do that sort of thing, long hours when something big comes up, solve problems that need to be solved. A doctor doesn’t walk out of surgery. A lawyer doesn’t say, “sorry I didn’t get the brief finished because it was dinner time.” Or if you want to argue that they get paid much more than teachers, how about journalists who don’t say, “sorry that building collapsed during my coffee break, I can’t do the story.”

              Almost every teacher I’ve ever met would never do something like that. It’s not fair that they have to sacrifice at times when a kid needs help but they gladly do it because they give damn. They are professional educators who work to improve their craft. Walk out and I don’t ever want to hear you say, it’s about the kids.

              1. 1. I would say that everything done so far by the governor has taken away local control. Prior to this the school board(whom I hire and have a say in) negotiated such things as contracts, working conditions, hours, etc… Now the Governor made those choices for them. It is fine when you have a good administrator, but it was fine before when you had a strong administrator.

                2. I wont even get into how I think journalism is a poor example of professionals. Sure they go when there is a story but what do they do when they get there?

                I think we needto look at Wisconsin under Walker rule, prior to him teachers worked long hours for poor pay and good benefits. Now they are expected to work longer hours for even poorer pay and ok benefits. If not then we are going to run to the press, facebook, and charlie sykes and tell them how horrible teachers are and the Governor was right.

                I said Greenfield above and I meant New Berlin –

                Once the community showed up to hand me pacifiers for wanting a say in my working conditions, I think heading out of the building at 3;17:01 is more than justified.

                The only way these people will “respect the gteachers as professionals” is if they go the Pennsylvania route

                and work for free, but then that might not be enough either.

      2. Locke,

        Thats great ifyour AP is cutting edge? what if he/she isnt? then you have forced out some great teachers because of ACT10 and your prinicpal cant “work with them”.

        I agree with T what is a bad teacher? I recently attended the MMSD recognition awards and every teacher they honroed were veterans teachers who have had major impacts on our school district. Youcan not replace that with a bunch of eager beaver newbies who will do whatever the principal says.

        I agree with T what is a “bad teacher”?

  8. (sigh)

    I have worked for a Wisconsin charter school for several years. Our school uses a Montessori-based curriculum that is very different from the traditional school system and could in many ways be called a much more progressive, child-centered format. Like many schools, our school took the charter route so that we would no longer be private, as it was our hope to serve low-income families. We have consistently out-performed our district on test scores, and many of our parents are supportive public school teachers from more traditional schools.

    Look, I agree that charter schools should have a certain degree of oversight to make sure that their students are performing well, but I find it awfully unfair when pundits and bloggers find a few charter schools (in a whole different state, no less) that are underperforming and try to paint all charter schools with the same brush stroke. Demonizing charter schools is no different to me than Walker demonizing teachers unions. The existence of charter schools has made it possible for me to give a Montessori education to predominantly low-income students who have greatly benefited from our approach.

    And just so everyone is very clear about this, charter schools are PUBLIC schools. No, they aren’t unionized–I gave up collective bargaining rights years ago in the hopes of working for a school that allowed me more freedom to cut through red tape and teach what works.

    I feel there is room for both public charter schools and traditional public schools to coexist and thrive together; it bothers me greatly to see this site take such a one-sided view of charter schools.

    1. I actually have no problem with Montessori-based curriculum, there has been good studies with that. I’m more bothered at the for profit school systems that technically do the same mistakes that public schools do.

Comments are closed.