kitchen table math, the sequel: Michael Goldstein on teacher choice and micro-schools

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Michael Goldstein on teacher choice and micro-schools

terrific post by Michael Goldstein on teacher choice: teacher choice in the sense of teachers making choices

I like the idea of micro-schools especially:
Those who want to cut loose administration entirely, and run their own "micro-charter" -- which could be as small as two teachers and, say, 40 kids. Let's make up some numbers. A number of large cities spend $15,000 per student per year, and often allocate charter schools 20% less. So let's work with a number like 40 kids * $12,000 = $480,000 annual budget.

If two skilled buddy teachers chose to run their own little "log cabin school," they would: pay an organization to manage the "back office" stuff (everything from insurance to payroll to inspections to compliance); rent two single classrooms from a church; buy supplies and books and computers off Amazon; maybe snag a couple of student teachers from a nearby college; and perhaps pay themselves $100,000 per year.


Independent George said...

That is so brilliant, I would even change careers to join a startup for that. Not teaching - my people skills are too horrible - but all that boring, back-office stuff? I'm aces at that.

Allison said...

The notion is nice. The reality is something else entirely. The bureaucracy doesn't make it easy to open a school. The regulations you need to open even a private facility that has children in it are onerous. Safety inspections, food permits, etc. Getting the ducks in a row and keeping them there is expensive. But for a charter to negotiate the state law? Full time jobs for more than 2 people--you'd need at least 1 dozen people to make it happen. If unpaid, then you have new problems. Not to mention the lawyers. It's not the money that stops people. It's everything else in their way.

Hainish said...

Starting something like this has been a dream of mine for a long time, but I suspect that Allison may be more right than wrong about the obstacles in the way.

Catherine Johnson said...

Someone sent me what I think may be a great piece of advice: he said to start an after-school program using this approach --- then expand to a charter once the afterschool program is established.

Allison's right about the obstacles; they are MASSIVE.

We now have intense opposition to a charter school here in Irvington & no charter school has been proposed. A couple of us spoke positively about charters on the Parents Forum & now we have furious opposition.

Furious opposition with nothing proposed and nothing likely to be proposed!

Catherine Johnson said...

I've been thinking for awhile now that you might be able to have 'teacher practices' in much the same way you have law and medical practices. (Did I already say this? Don't remember.)

SteveH said...

" ...& now we have furious opposition."

What are their specific objections?

In our town, people think that charter schools take money away from our regular public schools. They think that because our schools meet the (low) state test cutoffs, nobody should be allowed to go to charter schools. Our regular schools don't want to see any charter school that draws away the better students. With full inclusion and low expectations, they already see kids leave for private schools. They don't want to see that happen for many more who would immediately jump ship if it didn't cost anything. The only things stopping it now are the limit on charter schools and the fact that the state won't allow rigorous charter schools that siphon off the best students.

Catherine Johnson said...

The objection is that a charter school will take money away from "our" schools.

The fact that some of us are having to pay out of pocket for direct instruction and a traditional college preparatory curriculum is irrelevant; these are "our" schools and we have to give all of "our" money to them.

I learned this week that 10 or 15 years ago 50% of property taxes went to the town and the other 50% went to the school.

Now 65% goes to the school and 35% to the town.

SteveH said...

We are at about the 2/3 for schools and 1/3 for town level. As I mentioned long ago, about 20-25 percent of the kids in our town go to private schools. For K-8, the feeling by many is that this is strictly based on elitist considerations. Those parents get no sympathy even though many know that our full inclusion schools don't give much consideration to the more able and willing kids. It is taboo to criticize our public schools in public. You just hear the stories at the local grocery store.

Ironically, it seems that the attitude about private schools changes for high school. The general reaction when I tell people that my son is going to the local high school is surprise. However, that will never translate into having the town pay for other schools. So, add 2/3rds of your yearly town taxes to your cost of private school and keep your mouth shut.

Redkudu said...

I like the idea of micro-schools as well. I'd like to take that $100,000 salary figure, cut it by $40,000 (Which would still be an astonishing salary for me) and put that money toward taking students all over the U.S., maybe the world, a la Rafe Esquith.

And better food. Definitely better food!

I've had *my* charter school planned for years. I even tell people about it and their eyes go wide and they want to "play along." But no takers yet on implementing it...

Catherine Johnson said...

I REALLY want you to have a charter school -----

Catherine Johnson said...

We are at about the 2/3 for schools and 1/3 for town level. As I mentioned long ago, about 20-25 percent of the kids in our town go to private schools.

How are they getting away with that?

If you've got 20 to 25% of parents sending their kids to private schools...who's voting in the tax increases?

Catherine Johnson said...

"really want you to have a charter school" - I was talking to redkudu!

Catherine Johnson said...

Criticizing the schools was taboo here, too.

Not so much now.

OrangeMath said...

Allison is right, but the problem is SOLVABLE:

1. Start a non-profit to handle the OUTSIDE bureaucracy for MANY MICRO-SCHOOLS.

2. Your micro-school contracts with the non-profit to make sure all of the forms are done, building inspections are scheduled, etc. Teachers must focus on teaching.

This is hard, but doable over a state or county, and money can be made by all of the parties.

VickyS said...

An outside bureauracy ala Designs for Designs for Learning ?