As a former teacher, I've been reading with complete absorption and somewhat disbelief the plans and changes Indiana's government is prescribing as the "great fix" for our schools.
Utter dismay is a perfect word to describe my personal feelings. Since people seem to rely on facts so much, I spent some time today researching charter schools. I discovered a website called National Association of Charter Schools.
Readers might want to check this one out. I found that as of 2010, there were 61 charter schools in Indiana. Twenty-nine of these schools are located in the Indianapolis area. Twenty-three of these are sponsored by the Indianapolis mayor's office. Thirty-four are sponsored by Ball State University.
If I were to search a little deeper, I'm fairly positive I would find some major political influential connections. Not surprising. While I was at it, I checked four charter schools 2010 ISTEP scores. You can check these out on www.greatschools.org . (charter schools not being particularly synonymous with the term Great Schools).
I used schools from four different locations in our state. What I discovered here was not surprising. Charter School of the Dunes, grade three, four, and five posted the following scores:
* Grade Three, English/Lang. Arts, state average 79%; their students scored 63%.
* Grade Three, Math state average was 76%; their score 46%.
* Grade Four, science state average 75%; their students scored 46%.
* Grade Five, English/Lang. Arts state average 71%; their scores 50%.
I also checked the scores for the Joshua Academy in Evansville, Indianapolis Lighthouse Charter School in Indianapolis, and Aurora Alternative in Bloomington. The figures don't lie. Most of these charter school students are scoring 10 to 25% lower on ISTEP. By spending some time you too can discover some truths.
Yes indeed, there are problems with public schools. But, what I've seen as I substitute in various school systems is that teachers are dealing with some frightening and devastating behavioral problems. Much of the behavioral issues can be traced to the student's home life and parents. This has a huge affect on the other classroom students ability to learn.
Frustration, anxiety, and fear shut down learning. My son, Josh, who is currently teaching at Hoosier Hills Vocational Center in Bloomington, has talked with me at length about the problems schools are experiencing. He does see solutions and ways to improve. He believes that student's problems need to be identified, a plan of intervention developed, and working as a school community, these problems can be solved.
The result would be that students are able to learn in a classroom situation. It will take diligence and commitment by administrators, teachers, parents, and students. The results will be producing classrooms with students who can learn.
Public classroom teachers are doing what they were trained to do and trained well: Teach. If there is blame, it needs to be placed where the negligence is originating. It begins at home.
I would also like to own up to my "math" mistake in a previous article. As I replied to John Coleman who caught the mistake, no one is perfect, least of all me and I do make mistakes, a lot of them ... I did learn that gold is sold by the troy ounce ... the calculations actually benefited my comparison ... each assistant ended up being worth over two million ... so true ... whether this mistake affected my teaching abilities?