To US RP'ers . . .

vee_new

Please can you tell me what is a Charter School? A BBC TV prog on gardening/gardens in the US visited one in LA and showed the children learning about plants and growing, followed by cooking and eating the produce.

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yoyobon_gw

Vee, it's basically a government subsidized privately run school. This link will give a better explanation . It is a common thing in many parts of the world.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charter_school

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Rosefolly

And very controversial. Some people love them as offering choice where the regular public schools are miserable, while others see them as siphoning off funds better spent on the regular public schools.

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colleenoz

From what I was reading, Rosefolly, that’s a mistaken belief. Funding goes for each child whatever school they attend, so if all those charter school students instead attended public schools, while the school might receive more money overall, they’d be spending more on infrastructure and staffing, so it would work out about the same.

In addition, it appears that if you add up all additional funding for students, public school students receive more funding per student than charter school students.

I found the statistics on better results for struggling students who switch to charter schools interesting.

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yoyobon_gw

And yet many of our inner city public schools are so sub-standard that they are a disgrace and their success rate is lower than any other schools. Money thrown at schools doesn't solve everything.

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Rosefolly

You both make valid points. I don't know that I disagree. Nonetheless, I hear a great deal of grumbling about it.

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annpanagain

I think that the ability of teachers is very important. I went to a good school but a couple of the teachers were not good! One concentrated on the most able students and the other was leaving to be married and didn't concentrate at all!

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vee_new

Thank you for all your input. Are US charter schools in areas of higher poverty and where parental expectations are lower or where parents are more middle class but realise that the local public schools are failing their children?

And following on from the above can pressure be brought on the authorities/school boards to set up a charter school or can one be 'converted' from an existing public school? I'm assuming that the necessary funding comes from the local taxation/rates system . . . i don't know what you call it in the US!

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yoyobon_gw

The problem with charter schools is very complex. Recently a program discussed a highly esteemed school in NYC which was created for the students who were gifted in Math/Science. In order to attend, students had to apply and based on their academic record they were accepted into the positions open that term. What became evident was that the student body was predominantly Asian students due to their higher grades. Then local groups became irate and demanded diversity....and in order to do that the school was asked to lower their standards.

To give you an idea of the array of elite high schools in New York City alone :

https://nypost.com/2015/09/27/the-elite-eight-here-are-the-top-schools-in-nyc/

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Rosefolly

Special purpose public schools have existed for a long time, especially in larger cities. My own mother went to Girls' Latin in Boston (since merged with Latin School to form Latin Academy). A friend in college had attended Girls' High in Philadelphia. These were both single sex college prep schools. Both were altered or merged when single sex schools went out of fashion, to the chagrin of some women who thought that girls compete more vigorously in academics when there are no boys around to be impressed. They are mostly gone now so it is water under the bridge.

The magnet school movement of the 60's and 70's was intended to promote racial integration by way of offering arts, science or other specialized education in public schools. Many of the magnet schools provided a way out of dreadful neighborhood schools. I don't hear much about them now so I don't know if they are still a factor.

In Pennsylvania public school taxes can also be used for religious school, and that happened long before the charter school movement got traction. I suspect it was the gateway to the charter schools. There was pushback because many considered this particular funding a violation the Constitution which separates church and state. I haven't lived in Pennsylvania for a very long time but I assume it is no longer an issue.

Vee, you asked, funding of schools in the parts of the country where I have lived is based on property taxes. Homeowners pay directly, and renters pay indirectly through their rent.

As I understand it, the difference between all these alternative schools and the newer charter schools is that while both are publicly funded, the charter schools are privately managed while magnet schools and other alternative schools are run by the public school system as part of that system.


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georgia_peach

Our county has really beefed up their magnet school program. They had to, because the school system for at least the last decade has been troubled with all sorts of issues: dysfunctional school board, large percentage of economically disadvantaged with special needs (e.g., every public school in our county is a Title I school, which you can read about at Wikipedia), gangs and gang culture within the system, and teachers who just don't care and the ones that do not having the support they need to deal with troublesome students and parents. Our state also adopted the Common Core curriculum, which most agree is horrible (especially math as they teach it now). Parents who can afford private send their kids to private school, because who can blame any parent for wanting to send their kid to a better school. However, I personally believe this just further dilutes the public school system when only the bottom of the barrel and those who can't afford anything better are left to deal with its problems.

My daughter goes to a magnet high school because (a) she was interested in the visual arts program at the magnet arts school and (b) the problems with the regular schools in the public system I mention above. The magnet schools are run by the public school system, but their programs attract better teachers, IMO. Our county has two charter schools (if I remember correctly). It's by lottery only, so you have to sign up and hope you're one of the names that get randomly picked. Hundreds sign up, but I think only 50 (or less) names get selected each year.

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Rosefolly

I'm sorry you have such poor quality schools, Georgia. It's something no parent or student should have to face. It's hard to prepare for a decent life when the preparation itself is inadequate.

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vee_new

We have very similar problems over here between 'Comprehensive' schools (ie non-selective) the equivalent of your High Schools and the few remaining 'Grammar schools' where the brightest children of the area are offered places based on ability, giving those from disadvantaged backgrounds a first-rate education. Of course this means the more able kids are separated from the others who may often be left to 'sink' in substandard schools where staff show little incentive or give much encouragement.

There is also much criticism of subjects just being taught just to the 'exam' ie only dealing with the syllabus of English, French, History etc with nothing being discussed outside the narrows of what might be on the question sheet. This is possibly because teachers have little knowledge or interest in widening their own or their students horizons.

I am a firm believer in keeping politics out of education. As the various political parties come in or out of office so the various factions alter what they see as best for the child. So for many years it has been about building more universities so that half the population can attend (more about keeping the unemployment figures down?) or a plan during our last election, mooted many times before by the Labour Party that ALL private schools should be abolished and the students made to attend local state run schools . . . sometimes seen as a race to the bottom in the quest for egalitarianism.

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yoyobon_gw

Keeping politics out of education.............we are a mixed bag in the US. It has been widely discussed over the years how the Texas Board of Education overseeing textbook content has routinely deleted portions of books and lessons which do not agree with what they prefer to teach students about history etc.

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annpanagain

Vee, a teacher seventy years ago was complaining that we were taught subjects in "little boxes" when really they overlapped.

The Grammar School I attended had only just stopped being a private school the year before, under the Labour Government. The Head Mistress tried to make it less elite. The "House" system was abolished a year after I started and the Board of Honour of girls who had gone on to a University was taken down. There used to be only a couple a year but as the pupils were now there on merit, the numbers jumped!

Only the expensive school uniform stayed the same. My mother had to borrow from Dad's family to pay for all the items. My maternal grandparents wouldn't help, they thought going to an upper class school wasn't a good idea as I would be unhappy mixing with wealthy children!

In fact only three in the class of thirty were from the private sector and they kept to themselves anyway.

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vee_new

Annpan I went to a 'Direct Grant Grammar' where money came straight from central Govt rather than the local authority and we had a very wide range of pupil backgrounds. Some girls got in from the junior school via an entrance exam but most came after taking the 11+ exam. As the school was RC they were required by the Govt to take up to a third of non-RC pupils, or lose their 'status'.

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vee_new

yoyo, I don't think any school in England and Wales is 'answerable' to their local Council/city authority in the 'content' of what is taught. As far as I know the only trouble is now appearing in Inner City schools with large Muslim intakes. Parents often object to their children taking part in sex education classes or LGBT etc discussions, which is leading to problems.

Unlike in the US religious education takes place to a greater or lesser degree in all schools, plus an assembly, usually in the morning where prayers/hymns 'happen'. In many secondary schools this is becoming far less common, due to lack of space (to get perhaps 2000 kids into the school Hall) little time, a large group of non-Christian pupils . . . or just lack of enthusiasm on the part of the Head.

I don't know if this is still the case but Catholics used to refuse to attend morning assembly if they attended a non RC school . . . the same for Jehovah's Witnesses.

Our small village has a C of E junior school (very usual in the 'country') When our kids went there were only about 42 kids in the school and 13 of them were JW's . . . Their parents refused to let them attend morning 'prayers' or attend Xmas parties, take part in Nativity plays, have Easter eggs etc.

Over here JW's usually keep together and have large families. I must say all their children were very polite but led most constrained lives and were taken out of school as soon as old enough (16 years).

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woodnymph2_gw

Vee, from what I understand about the belief system of Jehovah's Witnesses, they do not celebrate Christmas or Easter and decry the trappings of Christian holidays such as Easter eggs, etc. because they consider these to be pagan in their provenance. I've known a few and they do tend to be very strict as parents and tend to keep themselves apart from those who do not subscribe to their beliefs.

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carolyn_ky

As a career first-grade teacher in a small, rural community, one year my mother encountered a family that insisted their six-year-old not participate in any holiday festivities. The mother rebuked her when she included their little boy in giving pictures of pumpkins to the class to color at Halloween. I asked her what she did for Thanksgiving, and she said, dryly, that she gave him another pumpkin picture to color. She couldn't stand to see the little boy disappointed and asked them to keep him home at Christmas when the children exchanged gifts and had a program to participate in.

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vee_new

Carolyn, that is so sad, especially for a small child who probably doesn't understand why he is being made to feel 'different'. Maybe pumpkin picture-colouring should have been labelled 'nature study'.

A friend who attended College (for teacher training) said how as an RC she was planning not to attend the course of lectures on Religious Instruction and looked forward to some extra 'down-time'. She and the small group of other non-attendees told the lecturer of their plans and he said that was fair enough, if their religious beliefs prohibited them from joining the group. Instead they would be required to write several long essays on deep philosophical subjects to be handed in at the end of term.

To a man they all decided to join the regular classes!

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colleenoz

Years ago, when I was asked to assist my daughter’s grade 5 class who were making simple confectionery for Christmas gifts, one child asked me what he should do with his “gift”, as his family didn’t believe in Christmas.

(Note, there are very few Jews in Australia, and most of them are on the other side of the country from where we live. Certainly in our tiny town there are none.)

Now, this particular child happened to be Aboriginal. I was puzzled by the “not believing in Christmas” (tbh not a huge percentage of Australians are practicing Christians, but still celebrate Christmas and Easter), and was just about to ask, “Why not? You don’t look Jewish...” when he added, “We’re Jehovah’s Witnesses.”

Ah. Mystery solved. So I told him to give it to his Mum, just because.

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annpanagain

Vee, I also felt very strongly about denying children Christmas presents as these were two of my relatives. Their mother had recently become a Jehovah's Witness and told us that the family would not be accepting gifts. She then relented as we were to be disappointed too by not seeing the children's enjoyment of our carefully chosen presents.

As, according to the Bible, Jesus was given gifts I can't see the logic.

The children's mother has since decided the strict religion wasn't whatever she was seeking so we are back to the usual practice.

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vee_new

Annpan, from what I understand the Jehovah's Witness's only celebrate wedding anniversaries.

Our next door neighbours (since moved) had five children and the wife had originally been a Quaker. When they moved here her husband, an artist, was still living in London and she became very lonely. The JW's doorstepped her and she joined them. She told me it was because Quakers were quite free-and-easy in their beliefs and attitudes and she wanted a much more structured religious way of life.

She also told me that when not doing 'the rounds' flogging the Watchtower they were only allowed to mix with non-JW's for so many minutes a day so they didn't become contaminated by outside influences. The whole organisation is very male-dominated.

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annpanagain

I enjoy celebrations and in Australia it seems like everything gets celebrated!

Introduced, there is Chinese New Year, The Blessing of the Fleet, Divali and many others. We get a lot of public holidays too! Then of course there is the Melbourne Cup, (the race that stops a nation) and Christmas in July, our own special celebrations.

A shame we miss out on Thanksgiving unless we have hospitable friends from the USA!

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carolyn_ky

Ann, I was once told that the British do celebrate Thanksgiving--on the Fourth of July.

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annpanagain

Very funny! But I don't believe that...

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