Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Will the Dunwoody schools be able to operate enmass as a Charter School System?


SB 457: Empowers a high school cluster to petition the local board of education to become a conversion charter. Requires a 60% favorable vote by parents and faculty in all the schools in the cluster and approval by the local school councils.  

Kudos to Dan Weber and Fran Millar who both pushed this legislation and it appears to be very close to being on the Governors desk for signature.

20 comments:

Dunwoody said...

I advocate a Dunwoody Charter Cluster. For an example of the flexibility and local control possible, see what Decatur City Schools have done. They posted their Charter on the schools website.

Since the Georgia legislature prevents Dunwoody from having our own school system, a Charter Cluster is the next best thing. The hurdles are high and the bar even higher for State approval, but it's well worth it.

Lindsay said...

We should start working on the immediately, if not sooner. I officially raise my hand as a volunteer behind this effort.

Rick said...

would the new Cluster have its own Board or still be under the DeKalb Board

Dunwoody Mom said...

Rick, my understanding is that this bill applies to Conversion Charters - so the schools would still report to DCSS.

Since there already exists 3 Charter Schools in Dunwoody, we certainly have the expertise to begin this process.

parents said...

So, what are the practical implications of being a charter school system? What would be the expected beneficial outcomes?

Wishbone Nolan said...

Thank goodness all my children are out of the DeKalb County school system, successful contributing members of society that pride themselves in their tolerance and sense of humor.

I shudder to think how they would have turned out had a Dunwoody Charter Cluster come to be in their milieu, controlled by right-wing conservatives that would even want to censor a grade school holiday musical program because it had too much of an African-American slant.

Good luck in this and hopefully a few courageous watchdog citizens won't allow this to happen - by not wanting their children raised to be close-minded jaundiced hidebounders, which surely a Dunwoody Charter Cluster will engender.

Kim Gokce said...

More liberty is good! I'm all for local control and encourage all citizens to take an active roll in supporting their public schools.

Should Dunwoody citizens have the right to charter the cluster? Absolutely. Should the citizens of Dunwoody expect something magic to happen to their school performance after chartering? Absolutely not.

From what I've been able to learn in a year or two of making an avocation of K-12 education policy and performance, chartering provides no panacea for the ills of public educational institutions.

For example, the Charter at Chamblee High hasn't changed the fact that the school is far behind in terms of physical plant and amenities. And while there is no arguing with the performance of the High Achievers Magnet housed there, this is attributable to the program, not the Chartering.

Ask parents who are not in the Magnet what they think of Chamblee MS and HS overall - I'll think you'll find they are very much like Dunwoody parents in their perspective on their local schools.

The case of Decatur was brought up above. While I'll grant that Decatur has an enviable facility at the new athletic complex at DHS (the other DHS!), I'm not sure I would attribute this particular success or others in Decatur to chartering but rather to their complete independence as a small Board of Education and the expense of a whole lot of money and effort.

The fact is that the Decatur community has been in a years long campaign to rehabilitate and nurture their public schools. This is starting to pay dividends in their reputation and appeal. I think that they would have been successful as a charter or not - the fact is, their Board of Education is independent with a small number of schools to manage with a relatively larger expense per pupil. If Dunwoody can pull THAT off, you'd have something.

In a more general sense, those who want more information and less of my anecdotes, should take time to review this data compiled by the folks at Stanford that I stumbled on last month:

4 out of 5 Charter Schools Are No Better Than Traditional Public Schools?

This data combined with what I have learned first-hand about chartering lead me to believe that Dunwoody will continue improving public education with or without a chartered cluster. I'm betting that the "1 in 5" charters that showed improvement according to Stanford were located in districts like Dunwoody that were experiencing an upswing in community engagement/support before the charter.

Dunwoody Mom said...

My children attended Charter Schools both at the Elementary and Middle School level and I can assure you there was no right-wing conspiracy at work at either venue.

Totally agree with Kim....

Kim Gokce said...

Wow, I can't stand for that kind of agreement, DunwoodyMom. Surely, we can find a way to disagree? Coke or Pepsi? Tastes great, less filling?

Joking aside, I think that Chartering seems to be a whole lot of energy and $$$ for debatable benefits. But, that's why they call'em debates, I suppose ...

Best wishes to the Wildcat Nation (Pride???) in any case.

Jan said...

If it doesn't get the schools out of DCSS control, is it realistic to expect it to really make much of a difference?

Dunwoody Mom said...

Well, Kim, as a native Atlantan (yes, we do exist) Coca-Cola is it.

PolitiMom said...

If we were a charter cluster, could we redistrict ourselves? My guess is no, so I agree with Jan. Our existing charter schools are doing well within the limitations of DCSS mandates, but so are our non-charter schools. I still think step 1 should be redistricting. It's great that this legislation makes it possible to charter a system, but I don't think it will make as much of a difference as redistricting would.

Wishbone Nolan said...

Well, DunwoodyMom, I based my earlier comments on Jose Ortega y Gasset's anticipation of this type of outcome and the Eurydice study which indicated that once a charter school system is implemented the more morally and politically conservative parents wrest control (i.e. some of your biggest far-right nut cases - Spiro Agnew, Sarah Palin, etc. pushed for these similar arrangements).

My opinion was also based on an anecdotal Dunwoody experience where a local far-right conservative blogger, who if he had his druthers would have censored a public grade school music program considered to be too "looney liberal" and is now chomping at the bit to be part the of the establishment of the Dunwoody school charter cluster.

Wishbone Nolan said...

Additionally, the St. Procopius administration utilized the charter system as strategy in order to ATTRACT more conservative parents into their schools.

Wishbone Nolan said...

Like I indicated earlier, thankfully all my children were the beneficiaries of a DeKalb County public school system education - and all are financially and spiritually successful as well as contributing members of their respective communities.

So, if you all want to stand by and watch a far-right conservative cannibalization of your little ones' collective minds go unchecked, that's your prerogative.

Bob Fiscella said...

I've tried to education myself on charter clusters and what it could possible mean to our schools, but detailed information is hard to find.

Bottom line, we would still be under the guidance of the DeKalb County School System, a system much too large to effectively and efficiently run our schools.

www.dunwoodyusa.org

Lindsay said...

Agree with most of the comments here. The designation of 'charter' will not solve all the issues, if any. The main thing we could expect is a slightly better seat at the table. That may be all we need to get more Dunwoody parents involved. Many do not participate much now because of they assume they can't get much done within the system we now have.

Again, we need to determine exactly what we can and can't do with this new 'Chart Cluster' designation. It would be a shame if there was nothing behind the recently passed legislation

Lindsay said...

Should have said 'Charter Cluster' designation. Sorry.

Kim Gokce said...

Lindsay re: "involved parents" ... well, you have a reasonable point there.

A Charter as a rallying point for parent and community involvement or even just buzz is a defensible reason to Charter. I suppose my question would be, how can Dunwoody accomplish these same goals without the time, expense, and sometimes involvement of 3rd party providers?

There isn't a school in DeKalb that couldn't benefit from more parental involvement and community support.

Kim Gokce said...

By the way, did you all see the ominous-sounding press release from the DeKalb Chamber? See:

DeKalb Chamber of Commerce to Announce Important Education Initiative for DeKalb County School Board

With a tone like this, they better have an impressive announcement next week ... stay tuned!