From: Dan Drmacich <dandrmacich123@gmail.com>

To: David Long,Sean Smith,Dave Atias,Eileen,David Kurtz and 77 more...

Sat, Oct 15 at 10:46 AM

Oct.14 Rochester Coalition for Public Education Meeting Minutes

Attendance: Chojy Schroeder, Don Bartalo, Tricia Gonzalez, Joe Simson, Lila Alsheri, Lee Loomis, John Boutet, Howie Maffucci, Dan Drmacich

Discussion & Decisions:

1. We received written feedback from David Hursh & spoken feedback from Tricia Gonzalez on participation as members of the NYSED Blue Ribbon Committee, and the 10/11 meeting on New Graduation Measures & Standards. Among their comments were the following:

A. There are 64 members, equally divided, assigned to 2 committees, representing public & charter schools, teachers & administrators, parents, college education professors, Regents members, & others.

B. They will meet every other month over the next 2 years to develop & deliver their recommendations on what skills & knowledge students should be competent in & how it should be assessed.

C. Both David & Tricia were impressed with the comments made by many members regarding their concerns about high-stakes standardized testing obsession and the emphasis on memorization & regurgitation. Also, several positively commented on the Consortium schools model & the fact that Linda Darling-Hammond, a world renown author & speaker on progressive education research had recently spoken to committee members & others.

D. Tricia & David will interact with our Coalition members on a regular basis & seek our feedback.

2. Bart, Joe, Chojy, John and Dan commented on the progress of the RASE Education Recommendations Implementation Committee. Comments included that:

A. The next meeting is October 27th at 6 pm by Zoom. Let me know if you're interested in attending.

B. A collaborative presentation by RASE & RCSD REAL Team members concerning a "Common Language for Discussing Racism" will take place on November 17th @ 6:00 pm. More information will be coming.

C. Dan stated that he anticipates some conflict over the advancement of some of the original RASE Recommendations, including "Interdistrict, Desegregated Magnet Schools" and "Alternatives to High-Stakes Standardized Testing."

3. Dan shared that as a result of Kent Gardner's forwarding of the Fordham Institute's report on "Urban Charter Schools Out-Performing Urban Public Schools" he asked the NPE's Diane 

Ravitch, Carol Buriss & Nazareth Professor Shawgi Tell to respond to Kent & the other education leaders he sent the report to. Diane asked former Ohio Legislator & Researcher Steven Dyer to respond to Dyer, which he did, & which contradicts much of what the Fordham Institute reported. Dan also sent the Dyer report to Joe Morelle, who recently stated that he voted for a "robust increase of funding for national charter schools." Dyers report is below.

4. We discussed the request by RORE teachers (a group of RTA members, who advocate & work for progressive education reform) to collaborate with our Coalition on lobbying with our RCSD BoE to adopt an anti-charter school resolution, similar to what the Buffalo BoE did. We agreed to first review the RORE Organization organization's platform & then make a decision. 

Please see the copy below & review it before our next meeting. If there is more information describing RORE, please send it to our entire membership, using the email addresses in this email.

5. BART presented his vision for the RCSD having a K-12 “Culture of Literacy”, emphasizing reading, writing, listening & thinking skills for all K-12 students in all subject-area disciplines. 

Bart will develop a written detailed plan & share it with us for possible Coalition support.

6. There were several agenda items we did not have time to discuss including the following:

A. Possible collaboration with the Center for Govt. Research on student interest in exploring the issue of racism,

B. Increasing racial diversity in our Coalition,

C. RCSD Supt. Search possibilities,

D. Exploring Racism PD Proposal for RCSD, and

E. Meeting with Regents Norwood & Turner,

7. We agreed to meet again on Friday, October 28th at 4:00 pm

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Kent:

Diane Ravitch forwarded your email to me about some of the stuff Michael Petrilli was talking about with urban charter school performance.

For the Ohio-related stuff Petrilli mentions, the No. 1 reason Ohio charters close is they don't make enough money. We know this because the state tracks it. It has almost nothing to do with state policies demanding higher performance, which those policies assuredly do NOT do.

Here are some other tidbits from Ohio's closure law (2015's House Bill 2) that Petrilli mentions. First thing is that the law was not revolutionary. It just brought us sort of into a main tributary of the mainstream of American charter school oversight. It was much needed and was the most important charter accountability law passed in Ohio's history, but that is a very relative standard, as Petrilli grudgingly admits. And, in fact, it didn't lead to a massive influx of closed charter schools, as I wrote about at the time.

Here's what the data show:

Closed charter schools in the four years prior to HB 2 (passed in October 2015): 96

Closed charter schools in the four years after HB 2: 87.

So charter closings actually slowed after HB 2.

Here's another fact: 

Amount of money being paid to Ohio charter schools in the 2015-2016 school year (the year HB 2 passed): $955,229,434.96

Amount of money being paid to Ohio charter schools in the 2021-2022 school year: $1,030,244,377.32

Per Pupil State Funding of Ohio Charter School Students 2015-2016: $8,007

Per Pupil State Funding of Ohio Charter School Students 2021-2022: $8,946

Again, it was an important law, particularly on transparency (for example, prior to HB 2, we had no idea which for-profit CMOs were running which Ohio charters. Now the Ohio Department of Education tracks that). But it is just the beginning of what we need, not the solver of any major problems.

The major problems with all these Fordham evaluations (at least in Ohio) are as follows:

1) Fordham consistently cherry picks data points. For example, we have 24 different state tests given to students throughout their academic careers. Yet Fordham chooses to focus only on the ones where charter students could maybe seen to be doing better. Never mind the 22 where they're not doing better (those results are always buried in large appendices). 

2) Fordham discounts the performance of Ohio's awful e-school sector -- only comparing brick and mortar results. However, even in the urban core, a huge number of students attending Ohio charter schools attend online schools. Yet Fordham consistently only wants us to examine the smaller fraction of schools that make up Ohio's charter sector

3) Even if we take Fordham's word for it and only examine those schools, 20 percent of the students in those schools do not come from the urban districts.

Fordham has done this for years in Ohio. They demand we only look at what they want to look at -- not at the vast majority of schools in Ohio that really do poorly. As I've said many times, most of the money going to Ohio charter schools come from districts that outperform their charter counterparts on more Ohio state report card measures. 

Here's the bottom line on the health of Ohio's overall charter school sector:

Ohio received $71 million from the feds in 2015 to grow and develop high quality charter schools. Seven years later, that money has seeded 14 new schools and the state has spent barely 10 percent of the award.

If Ohio’s charter sector was truly brimming with “strong results” and HB 2 was separating the wheat from the chaff, don’t you think we’d have spent a little more than 10 percent of the money and opened more than 2 schools a year?

Here are the facts: more than half of all charter students leave districts that outperform charters over the 15 graded components schools and districts receive — and have so consistently

Since the A-F report card system was adopted, Ohio charter schools have received more F grades than As, Bs and Cs combined.

Here's the link to my blog where I did a 3-part series taking down most of Fordham's arguments about its call to spend another $150 million on Ohio charter schools: https://10thperiod.substack.com 

Feel free to share around, but my guess is Fordham isn't doing something in Ohio that's unique here. I'm sure they're using the same tactics around the country to cherry pick data to ensure the sector's continued expansion, despite the overwhelming evidence of its flaws.

Using crumbs to justify feasts at the public trough, if you will.

If you need anything else from me, please don't hesitate to ask.

Best Regards,

Stephen Dyer 

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