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ALEC's Report Card Receives Failing Marks

Via the Great Lakes Center

EAST LANSING, Mich. (May 9, 2013) – Ranking states is a popular tool for education advocacy groups, with the goal of advancing a policy agenda based on ideologically driven pre-packaged reforms. These report cards receive considerable media attention, although few reflect research-based evidence on the efficacy of particular polices. The 18th edition of the American Legislative Exchange Council's (ALEC) Report Card on American Education: Ranking State K-12 Performance, Progress, and Reform is no different according to an academic review.

Christopher Lubienski, associate professor of education policy and Director of the Forum on the Future of Public Education at the University of Illinois, and T. Jameson Brewer, a doctoral student at the University of Illinois, reviewed ALEC's Report Card for the Think Twice think tank review project. The review was produced by the National Education Policy Center (NEPC), with funding from the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.

Lubienski and Brewer find that ALEC draws its grades exclusively not from research organizations, but from like-minded market-orientated advocacy organizations.

"Furthermore, when studies are highlighted in this report, they do not represent the peer-reviewed research on a given issue, are often of extremely poor quality, and generally unsuited for supporting their claim."

In their review, Lubienski and Brewer provide two key areas – alternative teacher certification and school choice – to highlight gaps between ALEC's agenda and empirical evidence. Despite multiple claims that a "growing body of research indicates…" – the report offers absolutely no supporting evidence. Math results, which have a lower pass rate, were used to compare traditionally-certified teachers to alternatively-certified teachers. Meanwhile alternatively-certified teachers were portrayed using their reading results.

"Many of the grades given to states reflect the level to which pro-market policies have been implemented while the grades systematically ignore meaningful measurements of equality and outcomes" according to the review.

Readers of ALEC's Report Card should consider it a statement of policy preferences and not an overview of research on education reforms.

The reviewers conclude, "At best, the report serves as an amalgamation of other like-minded think tanks' assessments of states' adoption of pro-market policies, and thus offers nothing new … it provides little or no usefulness to policymakers."

Find the report by Lubienski and Brewer on the Great Lakes Center website: www.greatlakescenter.org

Exposing ALEC’s agenda

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has been hard at work for decades. Its members are organized, well-funded and connected–too bad they aren’t using their powers to do what’s right for students and schools.

Instead, they use all their resources to push an agenda to open up the public school system to vouchers and privatization, lobbying legislators to restrict everything from voting rights to workers’ rights to help pave the path to their success.

Learn all you can about how ALEC operates, so you’ll be prepared to protect your students and neighborhood schools. A good place to start is by watching the 30-minute documentary The United States of ALEC, featuring Bill Moyers.

How "top charters" screen students

It's no secret that the vast majority of Ohio charter schools are rated F, but what of some of the "high performing" schools? It is with those in mind, we read with interest the article "The Dirty Dozen: How Charter Schools Influence Student Enrollment" .
This commentary offers a classification of twelve different approaches that charter schools use to structure their student enrollment. These practices impact the likelihood of students enrolling with a given set of characteristics, be it higher (or lower) test scores, students with ‘expensive’ disabilities, English learners, students of color, or students in poverty.
[...]
Yet little attention has been paid to the mechanisms that generate these differences. One exception is an article in February of 2013, written by reporter Stephanie Simon of Reuters, which described a variety of ways that charter schools “get the students they want” (Simon, 2013):
  • Applications that are made available just a few hours a year.
  • Lengthy application forms, often printed only in English, that require student and parent essays, report cards, test scores, disciplinary records, teacher recommendations and medical records.
  • Demands that students present Social Security cards and birth certificates for their applications to be considered, even though such documents cannot be required under federal law.
  • Mandatory family interviews.
  • Assessment exams.
  • Academic prerequisites.
  • Requirements that applicants document any disabilities or special needs. The U.S. Department of Education considers this practice illegal on the college level but has not addressed the issue for K-12 schools.
We thought we would pick one charter school and test this hypothesis. We picked DAYTON EARLY COLLEGE ACADEMY, INC. (DECA), as they were elevated by they Fordham Foundation and recently testified on the budget as part of a "coalition of high performing charters".
Following introductions from Fordham’s Terry Ryan, Dayton Early College Academy’s Superintendent Judy Hennessey began to speak in front of the Subcommittee only to be interrupted by Committee Chair Senator Randy Gardner, “Senator [Peggy] Lehner has just commented you lead one of the best schools in the country.”

Jokingly Judy Hennessey nodded and said, “Now we are striving for world class.”

The application process.

Here's DECA's application, which can also be downloaded here.

High School Application 2013-14

The first thing you will note is the application form is 23 pages long, requiring hundreds of pieces of information to be entered including report cards, test scores, disciplinary records, teacher recommendations and medical records. In fact, all mechanisms mentioned in the reuters article commonly used to screen prospective students. This is a significant barrier that only the most determined parent is likely to scale.

The page where the applications can be downloaded clearly states, in bold, "Incomplete applications will not be considered."

A parent who is likely to complete such a detailed, lengthy application is likely a parent who is going to be engaged in their child's education to a greater degree than a parent who is unlikely to apply.

Furthermore, as is pointed out in the 12 approaches charters use to screen for students, this application is in English only. No second language form is available on the application webpage- making English as a second language applications far less likely.

You will also see that on page 5 of the application
Documents needed for a complete application
 Student birth certificate
 Student social security card
"Demands that students present Social Security cards and birth certificates for their applications to be considered, even though such documents cannot be required under federal law." is one of the tell-take screening mechanisms charters use.

The DECA application form also requests that applicants document any disabilities or special needs, another potential barrier spelled out in the article.

So we can plainly see then, that while DECA may produce above average results for a charter school, it can do so because it has a highly selective application process that is likely to screen out lower performing students.

The performance results

We were expecting a charter school whose leader professed to be aiming for "world class standards" to be rated Excellent with Distinction. DECA is not, indeed it is not even rated Excellent, instead it rates as "Effective" according to the latest data available from ODE.

Building IRN 009283
Building Name Dayton Early College Academy, Inc
District IRN 043844
District Name Dayton City
County Montgomery
Principal Judy Hennessey
Grade Span 7-12
Open/Closed Status (as of 9/18/2012) Open
Designation Effective
Number of standards met 14
Number of standards possible 17
Enrollment 411
Performance Index Score 2011-12 99.1
Performance Index Score 2010-11 100.5
Performance Index Score 2009-10 96.2
2012 Attendance AYP N/A
2012 Graduation AYP Not Met
2012 Reading AYP Met
2012 Math AYP Met
2012 Overall AYP Not Met
Four-Year "On-Time" Graduation Rate Numerator 2010-11 35

These aren't bad results, indeed compared to the majority of F rated charter schools they are positively giddy. But, given the arduous application screening process, and the "effective" rating, it's a far cry from being world beating, and a very far cry from the world of traditional public schools which have to accept every student from the district that walks through the door.

May 2013 School Levy Results

The results below are preliminary. A high number of levies passed or failed by less than 2%, with some seperated by just a handful of votes (the Dispatch is reporting that a recount is likely in Groveport as their levy is now failing by 16 votes). A number of these results then, are subject to change before the results are finalized.

Based on these preliminary results, just shy of 60% of all school levies passed yesterday, with a 90% passage rate for renewals and a somewhat higher than normal passage rate for New money requests.

New renewal Failed Passed Pass %
New 50 36 41.9%
Renewal 5 46 90.2%
Over all 55 82 59.9%

Here are the results of the May 7th 2013 school levy elections, currently reported

County District Type of issue Result N/R For Against
Allen Apollo JVSD Bond - School Passed N 58.0% 42.0%
Allen Bluffton EV Income Tax (Permanent Passed R 77.2% 22.8%
Allen Elida Local Permanent Improvement Passed R 60.6% 39.4%
Allen Elida Local Emergency Operating Failed N 46.8% 53.2%
Allen Lima City Emergency Operating Passed R 67.3% 32.7%
Ashland Hillsdale Local Current Expenses Passed R 72.1% 27.9%
Ashland Loudonville-Perrysville Emergency Operating Passed R 55.2% 44.8%
Ashland Loudonville-Perrysville Permanent Improvement Failed N 46.2% 53.8%
Ashtabula Ashtabula City Emergency Operating Failed N 48.4% 51.6%
Ashtabula Jefferson Area Local Current Expenses Passed R 58.1% 41.9%
Athens Trimble Local Permanent Improvement Failed N 48.9% 51.1%
Auglaize St. Marys City Income Tax (Current Failed N 39.7% 60.3%
Auglaize Waynesfield Goshen Permanent Improvement Passed R 64.6% 35.4%
Belmont Bellaire Local Emergency Operating Failed N 44.7% 55.3%
Belmont Bridgeport EV Current Operating Failed N 41.9% 58.1%
Belmont St. Clairsville-Richland Current Expenses Passed N 70.2% 29.8%
Carroll Brown Local Bond Issue (Building) & Failed N 49.2% 50.8%
Carroll Carrollton EV Emergency Operating Failed N 40.6% 59.4%
Champaign Urbana City Operating Expenses Passed N 75.9% 24.1%
Clark Clark-Shawnee Local Operating Levy Failed N 49.8% 50.2%
Clark Greenon Local Building & Current Failed N 46.1% 53.9%
Clark Springfield City Bond Issues (Building & Passed N 57.6% 42.4%
Clark Tecumseh Local Emergency Operating Failed N 31.0% 69.0%
Clermont Milford EV Current Operating Passed N 59.8% 40.2%
Columbiana Columbiana EV Bond (Building & Failed N 42.1% 57.9%
Columbiana Salem City Permanent Improvement Passed R 74.4% 25.6%
Columbiana United Local Permanent Improvement Failed N 41.1% 58.9%
Crawford Galion City Current Operating Failed N 33.8% 66.2%
Cuyahoga Brecksville-Broadview Current Operating Passed R 61.4% 38.6%
Cuyahoga Brooklyn City Bond (Building) & Passed N 57.6% 42.4%
Cuyahoga Lakewood City Current Operating Passed N 68.4% 31.6%
Cuyahoga Westlake City Current Operating Failed N 49.6% 50.4%
Darke Mississinawa Valley Building & Permanent Passed R 67.6% 32.4%
Delaware Delaware City Bond (Building & Passed N 60.6% 39.4%
Erie Edison Local Emergency Operating Passed N 52.0% 48.0%
Erie Perkins Local Permanent Passed R 51.4% 48.6%
Erie Perkins Local Emergency Operating Failed N 35.5% 64.5%
Fairfield Walnut Township Local Income Tax (Current Passed N 51.7% 48.3%
Franklin Groveport Madison Emergency Levy Passed N 50.2% 49.8%
Fulton Swanton Local Bond (Building) & Failed N 45.2% 54.8%
Geauga Ledgemont Local Operating Levy Failed N 40.2% 59.8%
Greene Fairborn City Emergency Levy Failed N 34.1% 65.9%
Hamilton Forest Hills Local Bond (Building & Failed N 45.0% 55.0%
Hamilton Oak Hills Local Operating Levy Failed N 45.2% 54.8%
Hancock Cory-Rawson Local Income Tax Current Passed R 58.0% 42.0%
Hardin Ada EV Income Tax Current Passed N 55.1% 44.9%
Hardin Upper Scioto Local Permanent Improvement Failed N 48.5% 51.5%
Hardin Upper Scioto Local Emergency Levy Passed R 55.4% 44.6%
Henry Napoleon Area City Income Tax Current Failed N 46.8% 53.2%
Holmes West Holmes Local Emergency Levy Passed R 67.4% 32.6%
Huron Monroeville Local Building & Passed R 51.0% 49.0%
Huron Willard City Permanent Failed N 39.4% 60.6%
Jefferson Buckeye Local Emergency Levy Failed N 34.5% 65.5%
Jefferson Indian Creek Local Bond (Building & Failed N 37.9% 62.1%
Jefferson Jefferson County JVSD Current Expense & Failed N 46.6% 53.4%
Knox East Knox Local Current Expense & Failed N 45.0% 55.0%
Knox Mount Vernon Local Emergency Levy Passed N 65.7% 34.3%
Lake Kirtland Local Emergency Levy Passed R 53.4% 46.6%
Lake Mentor EV Operating Expenses Passed R 73.2% 26.8%
Lake Mentor EV Permanent Passed R 73.1% 26.9%
Lake Painesville City Current Operating Passed R 58.8% 41.2%
Lake Willoughby-Eastlake Emergency Levy Failed R 46.7% 53.3%
Licking Johnstown-Monroe Emergency Levy Passed R 65.4% 34.6%
Licking Lakewood Local Emergency Levy Passed R 59.7% 40.3%
Licking Licking Heights Local Emergency Levy Failed N 38.9% 61.1%
Licking North Fork Local Income Tax Current Failed N 46.6% 53.4%
Logan Benjamin Logan Local Emergency Levy Failed N 49.5% 50.5%
Logan West Liberty Salem Income Tax Current Passed N 66.1% 33.9%
Lorain Amherst EV Permanent Improvement Passed R 61.0% 39.0%
Lorain Amherst EV Emergency Levy Passed R 62.0% 38.0%
Lorain Avon Lake City Emergency Levy Passed N 52.2% 47.8%
Lorain Columbia Local Current Expenses Failed N 44.3% 55.7%
Lorain North Ridgeville City Emergency Levy Passed R 64.4% 35.6%
Lucas Oregon City Building & Permanent Passed R 61.0% 39.0%
Madison Madison-Plains Local Permanent Failed N 43.9% 56.1%
Mahoning Boardman Local Permanent Passed N 50.1% 49.9%
Mahoning Boardman Local Current Operating Passed R 60.5% 39.5%
Mahoning Jackson-Milton Local Permanent Passed R 57.4% 42.6%
Mahoning Jackson-Milton Local Operating Expenses Passed R 57.3% 42.7%
Mahoning Poland Local Emergency Operating Passed R 65.4% 34.6%
Mahoning Springfield Local Building & Permanent Passed N 61.1% 38.9%
Medina Black River Local Emergency Operating Passed N 51.1% 48.9%
Medina Cloverleaf Local Emergency Operating Failed N 49.3% 50.7%
Mercer Celina City Income Tax Current Passed R 67.4% 32.6%
Mercer Marion Local Emergency Levy Passed R 61.2% 38.8%
Miami Covington EV Building & Permanent Passed N 51.6% 48.4%
Miami Milton-Union EV Current Expenses Passed R 58.2% 41.8%
Miami Piqua City Emergency Levy Passed R 64.5% 35.5%
Miami Tipp City EV Emergency Levy Passed N 51.4% 48.6%
Monroe Switzerland of Ohio Operating Expenses Failed N 48.9% 51.1%
Montgomery Brookville Local Current Expenses Passed R 68.8% 31.2%
Montgomery Brookville Local Current Expenses Passed N 50.0% 50.0%
Montgomery Centerville City Current Expenses Failed N 49.3% 50.7%
Montgomery Jefferson Township Bond Issue (Building) & Failed N 23.8% 76.2%
Montgomery Valley View Local Current Expenses Passed N 54.8% 45.2%
Morrow Cardington-Lincoln Income Tax Current Failed N 49.1% 50.9%
Muskingum East Muskingum Local Emergency Levy Passed R 76.8% 23.2%
Muskingum West Muskingum Local Emergency Levy Passed N 55.9% 44.1%
Noble Caldwell EV Replacement and Passed N 57.3% 42.7%
Portage Kent City Current Expenses Passed N 61.0% 39.0%
Preble Twin Valley Income Tax Current Failed N 48.4% 51.6%
Richland Mansfield City Emergency Levy Passed R 72.2% 27.8%
Ross Chillicothe City Emergency Levy Passed N 50.6% 49.4%
Sandusky Clyde-Green Springs Emergency Levy Failed N 38.4% 61.6%
Sandusky Gibsonburg EV Income Tax Current Failed N 47.5% 52.5%
Seneca Bettsville Local Income Tax Current Passed R 53.3% 46.7%
Seneca Fostoria City Necessary Requirements Passed N 59.0% 41.0%
Shelby Fairlawn Local Emergency Levy Passed R 66.4% 33.6%
Stark Canton Local Bond Building & Failed N 49.6% 50.4%
Stark Fairless Local Emergency Levy Failed N 39.0% 61.0%
Stark Louisville City Emergency Levy Passed N 62.0% 38.0%
Stark Marlington Local Bond (Building) & Failed N 43.8% 56.2%
Stark North Canton City Permanent Passed N 57.8% 42.2%
Summit Barberton City Emergency Levy Passed N 54.6% 45.4%
Summit Coventry Local Bond (Building) & Passed N 55.2% 44.8%
Summit Cuyahoga Falls City Permanent Failed N 42.8% 57.2%
Summit Manchester Local Current Expenses Passed R 72.0% 28.0%
Summit Mogadore Local Current Expenses Failed R 40.6% 59.4%
Trumbull Brookfield Local Current Expenses Passed R 50.1% 49.9%
Trumbull Champion Local Emergency Levy Passed N 51.6% 48.4%
Trumbull Girard City Emergency Levy Passed N 62.1% 37.9%
Trumbull Lakeview Local Emergency Levy Passed R 61.6% 38.4%
Trumbull Maplewood Local Emergency Levy Passed R 65.0% 35.0%
Trumbull McDonald Local Operating Expenses Passed R 63.5% 36.5%
Trumbull Newton Falls EV Emergency Levy Failed N 37.9% 62.1%
Trumbull Niles City Emergency Levy Failed N 29.9% 70.1%
Trumbull Niles City Permanent Failed N 30.6% 69.4%
Union Marysville EV Current Operating Passed R 78.8% 21.2%
Van Wert Van Wert City Income Tax Current Passed N 59.7% 40.3%
Warren Carlisle Local Operating Levy Passed N 53.4% 46.6%
Wayne Orrville City Current Expenses Failed N 40.6% 59.4%
Williams Millcreek West Unity Emergency Levy Passed R 70.2% 29.8%
Wood Bowling Green City Current Expenses Failed R 34.6% 65.4%
Wood Elmwood Local Income Tax Current Failed R 41.5% 58.5%
Wood Elmwood Local Income Tax Current Failed R 41.7% 58.3%
Wood North Baltimore Local Current Expenses Passed R 53.0% 47.0%
Wyandot Carey EV Bond (Building) & Passed N 64.4% 35.6%

Wall Street ♥ charter schools

Call them cynical, but the widespread involvement of financial firms in the charter school movement raises suspicion among many public school advocates.

The map below illustrates just a few entanglements of big league investors in national school-choice organizations.

[readon2 url="http://news.muckety.com/2013/05/05/wall-street-charter-schools/42601"]Continue reading...[/readon2]
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