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NC: Are Virtual Charter Schools The Next Advance In Education Reform?

My new piece is up at Watchdog Wire, North Carolina.  After all, it is School Choice Week!

-Bruce (@GayPatriot)



  1. Charter schools are a different way to ice a cake. They don’t address the core problem of the public schools.

    If there were real private market competition and no public schools, the biggest problems challenging the public schools today would not be in school unless their parents were loaded with money and determined.

    The biggest problems challenging the public schools are kids who have no ability or intention of learning. Eventually, if you listen hard enough, you will hear from the public schools that they know school choice will drain off all the producing students and leave them with the problem cases.

    Public schools are locked into a game of public relations over education. They fight drop-out numbers by fudging the numbers and fiddling the system. The trouble makers and the academically “challenged” get the bulk of the attention and those who can learn are plugged into all sorts of games where they educate themselves or work with slow learners or just sail along in classes where they neither pushed nor challenged to the degree that they would be in a quality school.

    Some public schools are really great because they have the good fortune to have able and interested students. Ask a realtor, they can tell you where the good schools are.

    We come up with stuff like “No Child Left Behind” as if every little mind is capable of being turned on to calculus with the right free lunch and dedicated teacher. And so long as we continue on this Utopian unicorn ride, we will never make much progress. Just recently, we learned that all the Head Start work doesn’t make a difference in the vast majority of the Head Start kids once they get into the regular learning drill.

    It is as if there is no dumb as brick person in the world. Obviously, it is entirely politically incorrect to say this. Which means that we must not believe it as well. Poor Charles Murray learned the hard way when he examined the bell curve and got crucified for stating the obvious along with the statistics to back it up.

    Comment by heliotrope — January 31, 2013 @ 4:39 pm - January 31, 2013

  2. Virtual public schools would be terrible, its sends shivers up my spine to think of my nephew/niece sitting in front of a computer and not having pals to play with during recess. Yikes!

    helio you are close to exactly correct. School choice needs happen. There should be different types of schools/classes. If a kid with a no interest in school is going to f-around in English Class, fine, put him in some vo-tech classes. Schools need flexibility to define their own programs.

    However, regarding Murray, he deserved to get crucified for his poor logic, poor use of stats and silly conclusions.

    Comment by mike — January 31, 2013 @ 10:33 pm - January 31, 2013

  3. mike, you may have missed my point. When you break the public school stats down, there are obvious concerns raised over the disparities between the races. “Inner-city” school is not a euphemism for rich condo kids.

    This is not unlike the gay gene argument. Is the race component actually there and measurable? Is it nature or nurture or some of each?

    A high school graduating class is scoped out by the activists and they start counting by race and and gender and they want to be told why their equal interest group is not succeeding at the pace as their activists numbers would like.

    The word goes down that we need to graduate more black males. Well, as many as 80% of the black males who enter in the 9th grade drop out before graduation. So, of course, the first goal is to keep black males in school by any means possible. Numbers are fudged and accommodations are made. And, voila!, a functionally illiterate black male gets a diploma. And then, a sham college gives him a full scholarship. The college gets federal money to educate him. He flunks out. They replace him with the steady flow coming behind him. And around and around the merry-go-round goes.

    Don’t you imagine that if the “education community” (a little liberal-speak there) knew how to pull problem learners aside and turn them around that every public school system like Chicago, NYC, LA, Washington DC, Biloxi, Boston, Portland, and Houston would be doing it?

    Bill Cosby got so engaged in education that he earned an Ed.D from the University of Massachusetts studying “An Integration of the Visual Media Via ‘Fat Albert And The Cosby Kids’ Into the Elementary School Curriculum as a Teaching Aid and Vehicle to Achieve Increased Learning”. A fantastic comedian with lots of common sense did not succeed in getting “Fat Albert” to trick kids into learning.

    Sesame Street has no track record for success other than its claims that many kids were turned on by the program who otherwise would not have made it. How do they know?

    You are very much mistaken about how home schooling works. Some parents do the entire process alone and with enormous success. Clearly some parents fail at it. I am part of a group of volunteers who work with home schooled kids who get together at a church or a library and learn Latin, study ethics, research independent interests with editorial guidance, get special training and lots more. Sometimes I have classes of 15 or 20 and sometimes I work with just one or two. But they come to learn and want to learn. Furthermore, every one of the kids I have taught has been in a band, on a sports team, done volunteer work at the SPCA or some combination of a lot of things. They are not lonely geeks and nerds.

    Meanwhile, over at the public high school, I have volunteered to mentor one dead head after another. We volunteers compare notes and all have the same story. Our charges are woefully behind the academic curve and we have no medicine for them. Down at the pre-school and early grades levels, we have aides glued to individual students. The success rate is depressing.

    It is not a matter of money.

    On top of all the other problems, we have the courts taking some pretty rough characters and paroling them to regular school attendance instead of going off to prison. So, the kid takes the freedom route and comes to school and checks in with the Student Resource Officer and then learns the system and sneaks around and plays the court against the school and one and on. He chews up a lot of time that could be spent on others, but he gets priority societal attention.

    And prison school is a rather interesting place in itself. The teacher gets compulsory attendance and the “behavior” is automatically benign. But, when you do the testing, it is often the case that many of the students are sharp enough to do well and a smaller proportion are woefully inadequate. The problems usually come from the sharp enough group who just can’t stay out of trouble. Also, they often try to do as little as possible and get belligerent and feisty when asked to do more.

    Enough, already. We are dealing with human minds here and they come in all shapes and sizes and are not subject to “one size fits all” platitudes which underlie all of political correctness.

    Comment by heliotrope — February 1, 2013 @ 9:56 am - February 1, 2013

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