Monday, January 25, 2010

L.A. Leads Nation in Charter Schools

LA Times -- "Over the last decade, a quiet revolution took root in the nation's second-largest school district. Enrollment is up at charter schools, and overall, standardized test scores outshine those at traditional campuses.

Today, Los Angeles is home to more than 160 charter schools, far more than any other U.S. city. Charter enrollment is up nearly 19% this year from last, while enrollment in traditional L.A. public schools is down. And a once-hostile school board has become increasingly charter-friendly, despite resistance from the teachers union. In September, the board agreed to let charters bid on potentially hundreds of existing campuses and on all 50 of its planned new schools.

Charters are taking students not just from traditional public schools but also from private schools. Particularly as the economy has soured, many parents see no reason to pay for school if they believe that a charter might offer a similar education without tuition."

HT: Art Little


At 1/25/2010 4:41 PM, Blogger KO said...

I think the reason the school district has adapted is there have been many attempts by areas to break away from the City of Los Angeles over services. And in LA, people can just move to independent cities if they offer better services. Many, like Burbank and Glendale are closer to downtown than much of LA city.

My nephew is in an LA charter school. He has studied 4 languages (including Korean and I think Mandarin) and is taking calculus. He still has 1 1/2 years to go before graduation.

Pretty big improvement from when I was in the first calculus class offered at my high school. Previously students had to take it at a nearby community college.

Vouchers would still be a better way to go though. As noted in the article there are still wacky charter schools like teaching through dance. Those probably benefit from being better than the nearby alternatives. But probably wouldn't hold up to open competition.

At 1/25/2010 11:05 PM, Anonymous Repting said...

Charter schools are just faux privatization.

They are still controlled by the NEA and city governments. The better students and additional funding are funneled to these schools to make sure they are successful so politicians and administrators can tout success. Charters are the last gasp of the teachers' unions to keep their high pay and benefits and lip service of politicians to appear like they are doing something.

Then there are faux charter schools which purport to specialize in things like science or math but they produce outcomes which are little better than the schools which don't specialize.

All else equal I'd rather have charters than no charters, but ideally we would have vouchers which allow parents REAL choices with their tax dollars. Such a system could certainly include charter schools.

I see nothing wrong with vocational/technical schools or Art/Music/Theater schools as long as they teach the core subjects well.

Germany has educational tracks for college-bound students, vocational oriented students, and those in between. The result is a caste system which hinders income mobility. The children of college grads mostly go to Gymnasium to prep for college. The children of blue collar people mostly go to Hauptschule to learn a trade. Graduates of Realschule or Gesamtschule end up in paraprofessional or administrative jobs.

The net result is similar to the US but with artificial barriers to mobility. A student attending any brand of high school can take the Abitur to get into college, but few who did not go to Gymnasium are prepared for it.

If a student in the US goes to community college to learn auto repair, nothing stops him from finishing a four-year degree and becoming an Accountant. It may take an extra year to gain the pre-requisites.

In Germany, if you don't go to Gymnasium, your chances of getting into college are near zero.


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