Bring in the Cavalry of Educated Educators

Tried to post this multiple times last week, but for some reason was unable to-so here are some thoughts on last weeks article:

When reading Betsy Hammonds article about the REAL charter prep school debacle, I was totally blown away. The one thing people seem to always be overly critical, and watchful of, is money–so when alf a million dollars is allocated for a school, one might think there would be a serious, and communicative process that is involved with each dollar spent.   She does note, however, that “Federal law specifies that grants to launch charter schools go to states ‘that ensure each charter school has a high degree of autonomy over the charter school’s budgets and expenditures,’ ” which I find to be an important aspect, but this is not were my trouble lays. My frustration is with the ” list of seemingly qualified board members the district had been given was a fiction.” The overwhelming, and recurring problem in many failing schools, and businesses, is with mismanagement, typically with poorly allocated funds. Schools, especially new ones that are attempting to offer something new, and push the envelope, need well equipped professionals that can do their best to ensure success in the school. Volunteers, parents, and teachers are all very much needed to make things run, however, in situations such as these, the money should be placed in more capable hands. I understand at the same time that those are the folks who might cost more, but I am reminded of a clip Megan shared on the Harlem Children’s Zone- they worked to be involved with members of the business community that had fine tuned skills they were willing to share. The future of our schools depend on the people that know how to make them run, and teaching the children what they need to know to keep the cycle spinning.

http://www.oregonlive.com/education/index.ssf/2011/09/how_real_prep_charter_school_s.html

The photo is Juan McGruder, shown at the school, who was named board president sometime this year.

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7 thoughts on “Bring in the Cavalry of Educated Educators

  1. It is quite astonishing that the person in charge Realprep Charter school were able to get away with receiving all that money based on lies. It just comes to show that there are loopholes with in the charter school system. The district who allocates the money to school should do a thorough check on who is involved. According to the article, the qualified board member list that was given was a work of fiction. I am not 100% sure how the whole process works but I just assumed that there would be at least a few in person follow ups. Is that not the case? When this amount of money is involved I would like to make sure the plan is concrete and the people are real.

  2. Hi Rebecca,

    What I find most astounding in this situation is that there were seemingly regular check-ins and progress reports on how the school was prepping to open. I think it’s easy for the public to point the finger at Erica Jayasuriya but, in reality, everyone in this PPS community was responsible.

    The most heartbreaking thing about this is that now there is damage to the trust that comes with venturing away from traditional education models and the next person who wants to give this a go is going to face opposition due to what happened in this scenario.

    Megan

    • Oh, absolutely. While what Erica did was not helpful, it was definitely a joint screw-up with everyone involved. I was just thinking that the”checking up” that was done should have involved a little more background checking, and legwork.
      And you are right, it is completely devastating that the ones hurt most are the ones trying to make change possible, and now the trust is broken.

  3. Rebecca,

    I’m really glad you posted this article because it brings attention back to our ongoing conversation about charter schools and how they play a part in the overall education system. In the article it says that according to Federal regulations, “The state must allow creators (of the charter school) to choose whether they want to track their own grant money or have the sponsoring school district provide oversight. After such a misusage of funds, I wonder if this regulation should be changed. Should charter schools be monitored more closely? Or would this hinder the people in charge of trying to create learning environments that stray away from the traditional school model that is currently set in place? It seems to me that there needs to be some kind of increased tightening or monitoring of the funds in order to ensure the money is going towards helping students. How this should be done however, I am unsure.

    Thanks,
    Amira

    • I think that monitoring charter schools more closely can be done without more involvement from the government. It would seem plausible that a committee, such as the one this one had, could do more informed checks on progress to be sure that funds were spent in the way that had been decided. These committees should probably be made up of people interested in the completion and success of the school, yet not on any payroll-possibly made up of parents, teachers, and the like…?

  4. Thanks for your thread Rebecca. I also thought of Harlem’s Children Zone when I read the article on REAL charter prep. I wondered immediately, how are these two situations that are working towards the same goal, prosperity in student education, concluding to two totally different outcomes? Money seems to be a common dilemma for lots of situations. Here, charter schools funding seems unsteady because committees are granted and are capable of spending it however as long as it falls between blurred circumstances. This spending policy definitely needs to be tightened up. I’m not sure if this is already in place but I also think that charter school funding should have regular audits to assure such spending abuse is not occurring. I think a lax in compliancy reinforcement attributes to these types of situations like Erica’s and needs to be overlooked more closely.

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