I’m assisting in a class on Systems Thinking and Decision-Making this semester and am putting together a simulation of educational systems for a little praxis in addition to the raw theoretical base of the class. Each student will be part of a small group representing a school system (public school, parochial school, standards-based charter school, innovative cooperative charter school, etc) that is interacting in the larger network of schooling in the city. Each school system has some shared and some distinct problems that they are dealing with, and so they are working sometimes along with, sometimes apart from, and sometimes in conflict with each other towards their own goals. As I’ve been doing research, I’ve been wanting to engage with better versed people on why some of the situations I’m discovering are the way they are. I’m trying to give them a reasonable starting state based on the current situation that they can research, but they will have the flexibility to make significant changes to their system’s structure if they feel the difference will be beneficial.
What factors do you think are most important in influencing educational systems in an urban environment? It’s a broad term, but by “system” I mean any intuitive grouping, so a school system is a system, as is the administration, the students, the teachers, the vendors of supplies and facilities, the public with children in the school, the public without children who don’t want their tax money to pay for schools, etc – everything that has an impact, and any one thing can be involved in many interrelated systems.
To just take their claims at face value, why are charter schools performing better than regular public schools. These claims are made regardless of school mission, whether standards-based or cooperative or just mimicing the traditional classroom. Similarly, in St Louis, the magnet schools are very successful even though they are under the same administrative control and have the same state and federal requirements as the public school. Any thoughts on this would be enlightening.
How much does student self-selection interplay into this: students that are willing to apply to a school or students with parents who will encourage them to apply? The MET charter school in Providence boasts the “highest parental involvement in the state.” Since I also work with kids in the state’s custody (who have no significant parental influence), such a statistic makes me very skeptical that it deserves comparison to the general public schools.
In what ways are teachers in charter schools different than in public schools? Are they outside of unions, or new teachers, or successful in a discipline and not necessarily state certified, or seasoned teachers self-selecting themselves because they are excited to try something different? Are they paid more up front but less in pensions? Are they promised better facilities?
On the practical side, I am confused about a couple facts and if you have knowledge of them, I’d appreciate it. Are charter schools required to follow the NCLB state testing requirements? Are they typically funded per-student at similar rates as public schools? How much profit do for-profit charter schools typically make and who gets the ROI?
Thanks for your thoughts!