kitchen table math, the sequel: parents & charters

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

parents & charters

In the Wall Street Journal today:
This past week the NAACP, the National Urban League and other civil-rights groups collectively condemned charter schools. Claiming to speak for minority Americans, the organizations expressed "reservations" about the Obama administration's "extensive reliance on charter schools." They specifically voiced concern about "the overrepresentation of charter schools in low-income and predominantly minority communities."

[snip]

The truth is that support for charters among ordinary African-Americans and Hispanics is strong and has only increased dramatically in the past two years.

[snip]

For the past four years, Harvard's Program on Education Policy and Governance, together with the journal Education Next, has surveyed a nationally representative cross-section of some 3,000 Americans about a variety of education policy issues. In 2010, we included extra samples of public-school teachers and all those living in zip codes where a charter school is located.


survey results:
  • Support for charters among African Americans rose to 49% in 2009, up from 42% in 2008. This year it leapt upward to no less than 64%. Among Hispanics support jumped to 47% in 2010, from 37% in 2008.
  • Opposition to charters is expressed by 14% of African-Americans and 21% of Hispanics. Twenty-three percent of African-Americans and 33% of Hispanics take a neutral position.
  • Among the public as a whole, charter supporters currently outnumber opponents by a margin of better than 2 to 1. Forty-four percent say they are in favor of charters, while 19% stand in opposition. 
  • Parents in general are even more supportive of charter schools: 51% like them, 15% don't.
  • [P]arents in communities with charter schools favor them by a margin of 57% to 16%.
  • [C]harter support among public school teachers has slipped to 39% in 2010, from 47% in 2008.
African-Americans for Charter Schools
By PAUL E. PETERSON AND MARTIN R. WEST
I think the figure from parents is huge.

51% pro; 15% con

I don't know how to extrapolate from polling data, but my feeling about that figure is that charter schools are here to stay.

I hope vouchers will be next. I worry about charters killing off private schools.

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

Oops, you need to correct your comment on support from parents. It should read 51% pro, 15% con.

Crimson Wife said...

Vouchers are more controversial than charters because so many private schools are religiously affiliated. There is a significant percentage of the population that is down right hostile to Catholicism in particular. I don't think we'll see a widespread voucher program because of that prejudice.

ChemProf said...

Also, a voucher program might not be embraced by privates because government money usually comes with government strings. Could a Catholic school require voucher students to take a religion course? How about a Bible as literature course? Should vouchers be used to send students to madrassas if that's what the parents want? What about a young earth evangelical school?

These issues are already coming up with charters, and would be worse with vouchers. Plus when vouchers come up on the ballot, they are always put in terms of "stealing" money from public schools. Other than in really bad districts (DC for example), I don't see them getting very far.

Catherine Johnson said...

Yes, a Catholic school can require voucher students to take a religion course.

IMO

Doesn't Western Canada fund parents to send their kids to Catholic schools?

I think so.

Holland has a universal voucher system, and funding can go to religious schools; I believe Sweden funds religious schools as well as secular.

I keep thinking that the economy may change the landscape re: vouchers. As far as I can tell, we're going to be years getting back to where we were - which makes the fact that vouchers and charters are much less expensive than public schools salient in a way it never has been before.

Catherine Johnson said...

Anonymous - thanks!

ChemProf said...

Europe doesn't have separation of church and state. While I'd personally argue that is a mis-reading of the first amendment (which they also don't have), the courts have put a lot of limits on religion in publicly-funded schools. With vouchers, suddenly most schools are publicly-funded, and our experience with private colleges is that this public funding has all kinds of unintended consequences.

Allison said...

--Yes, a Catholic school can require voucher students to take a religion course.

In what state in the US?

Let me ask you a hypothetical:

Are you in support of state or federal vouchers that pay for someone to send their children to Islamist Sharia schools? Islamist Sharia schools that advocate Sharia law replace the current state and federal statutes?

palisadesk said...

Whoops, I posted a respnse to Catherine's and Allison's questions -- but accidentally on the Arthur Whimbey thread instead of this one. I don't know how to move it over.

Anonymous said...

Allison,

I'm pretty sure that Zelman v. Simmons-Harris applies to most/all states. It certainly applied to Ohio.

But it also isn't clear if you are asking for Catherine's opinion of what the law currently *IS* or if you are asking her opinion of what the law should be. Your hypothetical suggests the latter. Is this correct?

-Mark Roulo

ChemProf said...

Here's an example of the kind of things I wonder about with widespread use of vouchers. Let's say that a state introduces a widespread voucher program. What is to stop the state legislature from mandating that all schools that are eligible to accept vouchers (which are government money after all) must have certified teachers? Or must use textbooks approved by the state?

We've seen this already in higher education. In the 90s, colleges were required to put into place rules about alcohol on pains of losing any federal funds. Private colleges had to comply, or give up (as an example) their NSF grants. There is a real risk that vouchers would lead to less diversity in education, not more.

I'm also not convinced that Zelman v. Simmons-Harris would stand if Kennedy retired in the next couple of years...

Allison said...

My first question was about her comment, since she claimed it was true in US law, and then cited only foreign countries. I don't even know if the law at this point is state or federal re: various aspects of education, and looking at DC doesn't help, since it's special.

My hypothetical was a hypothetical about what she thinks the law should be, because it's all well and good to apply it to cases where we are comfortable, but how would we apply it in cases where we aren't comfortable?

If the law dictates (whether already or in the future) that vouchers only go to Catholic schools if they also are permitted to go to Islamist schools, then I personally say no to vouchers.

More generally, I'm entirely in agreement in ChemProf. How far away is the day an administration would say "okay, we create *national vouchers*, but only if your teachers are certified, or your textbooks are certified, ..."

And then what if the certification for teachers comes from the teacher's unions, and has tenure requirements? Or what's certified in the textbooks has to match Title IX? or Disparate Impact? Or whatever is acceptable? For people who agree with this administration, what happens when another comes in? What if the textbooks were then required to teach Intelligent Design?

There is only one college that takes no federal funding in the US: Hillsdale College. That's where privates would be in K-12 rather quickly.

Anonymous said...

"Let's say that a state introduces a widespread voucher program. What is to stop the state legislature from mandating that all schools that are eligible to accept vouchers (which are government money after all) must have certified teachers? Or must use textbooks approved by the state?"

As nearly as I can tell, the answer is "absolutely nothing." Them that pays the piper calls the tune and all that.

Which is one reason that there is a lot of skepticism/caution in the homeschooling community about getting government financial "help" to teach their kids.

I am one of those skeptics. There exist programs I could use (maybe ... I haven't looked into them in depth) that would, I think, allow me to retain *most* of my choices when educating my child. I ignore them. I'll do what I think is proper, thank you very much.

But if I'm taking money, that money can/will come with strings attached. My guess is that vouchers can go in this direction (and probably will). And lots of people won't like it.

-Mark Roulo

Anonymous said...

"I'm also not convinced that Zelman v. Simmons-Harris would stand if Kennedy retired in the next couple of years..."

Well, okay.

So now we have three forms of the question:
1) What *IS* the law?
2) What do we expect the law to be?
3) What should the law be?

(1) is *fairly* easy, although I can see some state laws trumping the court ruling (e.g. if some states had more restrictive state/church separation constitutions).

(2) is lord only knows!

(3) will vary from person to person.


For Allison: "I don't even know if the law at this point is state or federal"

My understanding is that one of the attacks on the Ohio vouchers going to religious schools was a 1st amendment one. The Supreme Court said that the Ohio voucher plan did not violate the 1st amendment. As ChemProf points out, this can change very quickly with new personnel on the Supreme Court.

-Mark Roulo

Catherine Johnson said...

she claimed it was true in US law

I don't say it's true in US law; it's not true as far as I can tell.

I say that it's consistent with the Constitution and would - or could or should - survive a constitutional challenge.

Catherine Johnson said...

But if I'm taking money, that money can/will come with strings attached.

yes and no

The public schools we have are taking vast quantities of money and the 'strings' are just strings, not ropes. How many laws have been passed now requiring accountability and increased student achievement in exchange for taxpayer money?

Many such laws have been passed and yet we don't have accountability and increased student achievement.

What needs to be factored in is 'path dependency' and culture. Homeschooling has its own path dependency at this point & (I believe) its own culture.

It's not easy to force a different culture on a social institution or practice.

Just as public schools do what they do, homeschoolers do what they do & private schools do what they do.

People and institutions are extremely resistant to change as far as I can tell; you can't buy change with money. It's very difficult even to legislate change.

Catherine Johnson said...

she claimed it was true in US law

Sorry - I should have edited before posting.

What I meant to say was that I think vouchers for religious schools could - or should - pass Constitutional review.

Catherine Johnson said...

We've talked about the sharia question before.

I personally don't have a problem with vouchers being used to send kids to an Islamic school where teachers advocate sharia law.

I don't know whether that's the position I ought to have but that's the position I do have.

Catherine Johnson said...

Does France fund religious schools??

I'm thinking no....

France has a much stricter separation of church and state than we do.

As I understand it, we don't **actually** have 'separation' of church and state.

I think the Constitution guarantees freedom of religion; I'm thinking it also says that there is to be no state church.

In France, as I understand their law, religion has been legally defined as private: as belonging to the realm of the private and personal.

That's why it's legally valid in France to pass laws forbidding students from wearing headscarves, yamulkes, and crosses, etc.

In practice, French people are free to wear religious symbols, pray in public, etc; I'm not sure exactly where the public/private legal distinction is enforced other than inside public schools.

Allison said...

I take it you've not been following the banning of the burqa issues in France right now?

France hasn't yet banned the burqa, but is moving in that direction. Their lower house of parliament voted 335 to 1 for a law that would prohibit wearing the burqa in public.