Regarding Charter Schools

BusDuring the last Octorara Area School District Board meeting, William Kloss (Atglen) made an impassioned speech regarding charter schools. There were some blanket statements made about, what he believed, are problem with charters, and wanted the school board to work toward eliminating them as a drain on our budget. Mr Kloss only specifically mentioned Avon Grove CS (at least as far as I recall and made note of). I am going to break down his assertions using AGCS as an example.

It was believed:

  • Charter schools can hand pick the students they want to enroll

False: The Avon Grove Charter School is a public charter school, and as such, can accept applications from any student in the state of Pennsylvania. However the school can only call upon its “feeder” districts to transport within a 10 mile “bubble.” (link)

  • Octorara must meet the needs of every student in the District, no matter how severe or extensive that need is

Charter schools are not exempt from Federal Special Education Laws and Regulations. (link)

  • Charter schools do not share their hiring requirements of teachers

False: Currently, AGSG is hiring a High School Mathematics Teacher. The requirements include all candidates to be “Highly Qualified” as defined by No Child Left Behind. (link)

  • Charter schools don’t disclose their financials

False: Avon Grove Charter School’s proposed 2013-14 budget is on their website. (link)

  • Because charter schools can choose their students they can skew test scores

False: Avon Grove Carter School does not pick and choose. Students are enrolled based on a lottery system. (link)

  • They are using our tax dollars & should be held accountable to the taxpayers

Charter schools are accountable for student achievement. The rules and structure of charter schools authorizes it to function once it has received a charter, a statutorily defined performance contract detailing the school’s mission, program, goals, students served, methods of assessment, and ways to measure success. (link)

  • Charters are for-profit companies

Avon Grove Charter School is organized as a Non-Profit Organization. While some charters are run by for-profit companies, not all are.

I hope no one perceives this as an attack on Mr Kloss. He is mention because he spoke during a public meeting, but I am sure many share his misconceptions.


7 thoughts on “Regarding Charter Schools

  1. Charters are held to a higher standard than traditional public schools because if they do not perform, they are shut down. They get 5 year charters. If a traditional public school is failing students and parents, they remain open. Charters provide parents with the choice of education for their child. As far as taxpayer dollars- the money should always follow the student. Octorara should not get money for a student that Avon Grove CS is educating. Charter Schools do not get the full amount anyway.

  2. Thank you for this – as a parent of 3 AGCS students – we get tired of having to explain or justify the choice we have made in sending our children to this amazing school. Several of the local school districts are notoriously unfriendly to the local charters schools – particularly AGCS. Perhaps it’s because you have a school that has managed to provide outstanding and “out of the box” education for it’s students and has proven that you can do more with less. We’re not saying that this school is the best choice for every student – just like Octorara is not the best choice either. As tax payers and parents we feel that you should have choices for education within the local districts -choices without huge tuition bills attached to them. In business a monopoly builds complacency – why is it any different for schools? Maybe our little charter school doesn’t have a beautiful campus (our campuses are “recycled” ) or all the other bells and whistles -but maybe Octorara parents should take a look at the fact that AGCS has better test scores and graduation rates and really start to ask their School Board – why is this charter school doing better with only a percentage of your budget? I can only imagine that if Octorara was given back the 66% of the revenue that they are required to send to the charter school for each student from the district enrolled – that they would find an entirely new way waste it.

  3. On reading this again I am actually really annoyed that a school board was asked to try and eliminate another school that has done nothing but provide an alternate education for local students – implying that public school boards hold power over charter schools – it borders on insulting. The only thing AGCS has done to Octorara is to show it’s inadequacies. Since the day their charter was approved AGCS has faced one obstacle after another: Local districts holding funds back or refusing to provide adequate busing, fighting to maintain tax exempt status for the schools campuses and being held to the same educational standards as regular public schools yet being denied the same funding. Did it ever occur to anybody at Octorara that maybe they could learn something from AGCS instead of blaming it for their problems? Perhaps there should be more focus on getting Octorara to perform well with less and not on shutting down a school that is already doing that.

    • It is hard for me to be upset with Mr Kloss, speaking out against what he believed to be true. When something is repeated enough times, people start to believe it to be truth.

      What I found disturbing is that, when addressing him, Dr Newcome did not dispel these misconceptions.

      Even in the reporting of this, other venues let Mr Kloss’ statements stand without providing the facts.

      No matter which side of the debate, the focus should be about discussing the facts, and all the facts.

      That is my opinion, at least.

      • Tim, this is the best post that you have made to date. I share your concern that Dr. Newcome does not seem the slightest bit dismayed about this misinformation. More posts along these lines, please. You still have my vote. Thanks!

        Everyone needs an enemy to deride to affirm their own identity. Charter Schools are easy prey, and school district feel like money is being stolen from them that they somehow “deserve”.

        Public schools don’t deserve tax payers money any more than a charter school does. Shameful misinformation campaigns only support this.

        The only bias that may be discussed is the self-selection bias. Parents that care more about their students tend to be more likely to send their children to charter schools, theoretically skewing the data.

        Support charter schools. Support innovation, support creativity. Solutions exist, lets support those that create them.

  4. I am not upset with Bill either – we know him on a personal level and he is a good guy / friend / neighbor. I do not question or challenge another parent’s choice to send their child to which ever school they feel is the best for their family. I would hope other parents would extend the same respect. As we continue to follow this blog as well as the others – it is apparent that one side continues to either ignore the numbers / facts and just continue to make excuses or resort to personal digs / insults / condescending remarks. I have yet to read or hear anybody justifying or even giving plausible reasons or excuses for the districts budget or performance.

    Dr. Newcome has always been up front about his feelings regarding charter schools – so dispelling negativity about them is not something we would expect from him.

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