Monday, April 22, 2019

Guest Post: The True Cost of College

I've known Beth Pfohl for years. She was a top student in my Honors English class, and years before that I cast her as Annie in our community theater production. When she was a senior, I installed her as editor of the yearbook. She's an exceptional human being. Beth is currently finishing up her college education at Miami of Ohio, and it is from that vantage point that she wrote the following post for her own blog, which I am reprinting here with her permission.

I am heartbroken, and I am furious.

So you know what, I’m going to discuss the forbidden topic: money, and more specifically the absurd amount American students must pay for quality university educations.

You might ask, “Why today?”

Because today my heart broke, not for myself, but for someone I love. Today, she had to say goodbye to her dream school, not because she wasn’t accepted. Not because the reality when visiting the school was a disappointment. Not because it was too far away from home. Not because she is lacking support from her family. Not because she hasn’t saved up enough money.

Because college is too damn expensive.

This open letter isn’t meant to be about me, but I think it would not leave as great an impact if I did not speak in specifics.

I am a senior, graduating in May from Miami University (Ohio). I absolutely love this school and wouldn’t trade my time here for anything. However, I live in Pennsylvania, so I pay out-of-state tuition. Yes, I chose Miami because I loved the school, but also because it was one of the more financially reasonable options available to me.

Cornell would have been $60,000 a year with limited financial aid available as I am not an athlete nor a genius.

Penn State would have been $30,000 a year with an honors scholarship.

Christopher Newport would have been $27,000 a year with a performance scholarship, albeit one that they were forcing me to decide upon prior to the May 1st decision deadline and prior to hearing back about offers from some other schools.

And so on, and so on.

Miami costs my family and me (baseline) around $22,000 a year after the scholarships I was lucky enough to receive. Without these scholarships, I would have paid $44,000 yearly, and for new incoming students, the sticker price is closer to $50,000.

I graduated valedictorian of my high school. I currently hold a 3.96 GPA with a double major and a minor at Miami. I have had the honor of receiving two significant awards for service to my university. I also come from a middle-class family. I have worked through my time at school and over breaks. I took an average of 20 credit hours per semester so that I could take a semester off for a full-time internship in order to earn money to help reduce the costs associated with studying abroad.

Yet even with the all of the hard work (from both my family and myself) and all my scholarships, as of yesterday, I owe $19,762.49 to Granite State Management and Resources, and I consider myself much luckier than most. The average amount to owe after attending a four-year college is nearly $29,000.

The average. That means approximately 50 percent of people owe more than this amount.

Clearly this is not a Miami problem; it’s a systemic problem that stems from the out-of-state/in-state methodology. For the purpose of this open letter, let’s call in-state costs for state schools much more reasonable (This is despite my actual belief that this cost is also way too expensive. For example, Miami University costs $30,000 a year for in-state students.).

The philosophy behind the state system for higher education stems from taxes. Basically, you pay taxes in your home state which go toward funding public higher-education schools in that state, so when you decide to attend a university outside of your state, the cost goes up since you have not paid taxes to support the education system in that state.

Sure, an easy solution would be to say, “Only go to public schools in your home state,” but think of the talented individuals you are crippling with that idea.

Sometimes the best school that is the best fit for you just isn’t located where you happen to live.

That was the case with me.

Penn State would have been fine, but it was too impersonal for me and didn’t encourage study abroad to the same level I wanted.

Edinboro, Clarion and Slippery Rock would also have been fine, but I was hoping to go further away from home to broaden my horizons.

The other schools I looked at were either all private or out-of-state and therefore came with the associated hefty price tags.
So I chose a school that I loved, but also a school that wouldn’t see me paying off my loans well into my 50s.

Everyone deserves to be able to attend their dream school if they put in the work to get accepted, and even though this is not a Miami-only problem, I am calling Miami out. Let’s work together to come up with a better way.

Let’s work together to ensure that students who truly and completely embody the principles of love and honor don’t have to settle for the least-expensive option.

That $2,000 that will be left in my meal plan when I graduate that won’t be refunded: put it toward a scholarship. The $135 I pay every year to use the busses which I haven’t actually used since sophomore year: put it toward a scholarship. How about the stolen goods fee that every student pays regardless of whether or not they actually steal things? What about the $200 I pay for career development when I have utilized Career Center resources twice during my time at Miami? How about the scholarship money that Miami quits paying for the students who fail to meet academic standards?

This is no solution to the overwhelming problem facing this generation of college students, but at least it’s a start.

And just a reminder to all the nay-sayers out there; according to Forbes, from 1985 to 2011, average tuition costs increased 498 percent compared to the national inflation rate of 114 percent over the same time.

“Working your way through college” isn’t possible anymore. Trust me because I tried, and even then, I couldn’t get much beyond book costs.

To put it simply, there is no way to pay for my college education in its entirety, even if I were to hold a full-time, salaried job.

Just as a reminder, college graduates on average only earn about $50,000 a year at their first jobs. Remember that this is an average meaning that while some people make more, some people make much less.

I am calling on the school that I love to make a change. Show the world what love and honor means and lead the push for finding a solution.

As a school, we boast alumni like a President of the United States of America, a Vice-President of the United States, CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, a Speaker of the House, a Super-Bowl-winning quarterback, and on and on.

But I ask, how many leaders never made it here? How many did we turn away simply because they couldn’t pay?

That’s not what love and honor means to me.

Your move, Miami.

P.S. And should anyone out there want to give a more-than-deserving, kindest-person-ever a chance to attend Miami of Ohio, I know just the person.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

ICYMI: Easter Edition (4/21)

One of my favorite holidays is today, but whether you celebrate or not, here's some reading from the past week to feed your brain.

Against Metrics: How measuring performance by numbers backfires.

Not directly tied to education (though the subject comes up), this piece takes a look at the problems of people who think numbers are magical.

If we don't work on pedagogy, nothing else matters.

One of those "I'm not sure I'm 100% on board with this, but it's some food for thought" pieces.

Private Equity Pillage

The retail apocalypse is not about Amazon outselling bricks-and-mortar stores; it's about private equity funds draining the lifeblood out of the economy. This is not about education-- except that these are the same guys who want to get rich from privatizing education.

Why, yes, spending more money on schools does yield better results.

Every year in Pennsylvania, right tilted thinky tanks opine about how more money for schools won't yield results. Here's why they're full of it (and it probably applies to your state, too).

We're having the wrong conversation about the future of schools. 

A look at the broad picture of reform, and how it has done more harm than good.

Inside Maine's disastrous rollout of proficiency-based learning.

Maine tried to go all in on PBL and it was a freaking mess. Kelly Field writes the story for Hechinger.

Still Teaching  

The day of the Columbine shooting was his first day in the building. Now he's one of the thirteen teachers still there. A story of what it's like to work at That School, and safe spaces.

Florida Republicans choose guns over teachers.  

Florida. Again.

What Preschool Isn't  

Nancy Bailey looks at one of the stupidest ideas to refuse to die-- on-line preschool.

Austerity Comes to Canada

The Have You Heard podcast takes a look at some alarming ed reform trends (make all students take some courses on line?!) up Canada way.  

Saturday, April 20, 2019

When Local Control Turns Toxic

I am a fan of local control for school districts, but I'm not going to pretend that under the wrong circumstances it won't produce some terrible results.

EdBuild has just issued a report on a troubling phenomenon-- the secession of wealthy communities from larger school districts. This issue has been reported on before, but this is a report that collects instances of attempts across the nation.

EdBuild is not an organization that I'd ordinarily be promoting. Their reform credentials are deep, from Founder/CEO Rebecca Sibilia who used to be the COO of StudentsFirst to a board headed by Derrell Bradford of NYCAN (among other groups). They do have some actual teachers like Nate Bowling on their board of advisors, but mostly this is another group that runs deep with people without actual experience in education, and most of their policy positions are heavily school choicey.

But neither education experience or complex methodology is needed to collect this kind of data, and the results are not great. Since 2000, 128 communities have tried to secede from their school districts, and 74 have been successful.

A large chunk of those are not hard to explain. The map shows a huge group of seceding districts in Maine. For about a decade, Maine put big pressure on its districts to consolidate, with a plan to turn almost 300 school districts into 26. There were severe financial penalties for keeping your own district, until Governor LaPage eliminated the penalties; at that point, many districts headed for the door. The many secession fights in Maine represent an attempt by districts to maintain their original shape, not surprising in a state that is largely rural and it can take 90 minutes to travel a distance that is 30 miles as the crow flies. The state of Maine accounts for a full half of the 74 seceding districts and so allows EdBuild to inflate their total numbers.

Front of the big beautiful HS Collierville built its students,
once it got them out of Shelby County Schools
Still, the uninflated numbers and the stories that go with them are still pretty troubling. In Louisiana, Tennessee and Alabama, what we see are severe examples of school district gerrymandering, and the story, over and over, is of rich white folks trying to get themselves a district that doesn't include so many of those poor Black folks. The Shelby County school districts are a fine example of white flight, district secession, and the hoarding of resources so that wealthy folks don't have to spend tax dollars on Those People's Children.

I presume that this phenomenon can be used to argue that choice has to be implemented to rescue the students left behind, or as another example of the kind of choices that rich families have and poor families don't, though EdBuild does not go there in the report. To me, the phenomenon of secession and resource hoarding is a prime example of the worst of both worlds, showing in one ugly move how both school choice and local control can be used in toxic ways.

Sibilia says the school secession movement illustrates the problems with the way U.S. schools are funded. “Even when there is not explicit racial intent, there is this hyperlocalism approach to education that is driving these secessions,” she said. “Either way it’s emblematic of everything that is wrong with school funding and school borders in this country.”

Maybe, though some states have managed to put breaks on these kinds of shenanigans. But more to the point, choice and charter and voucher systems simply provide an alternative method for achieving exactly the same results. Whether I secede by creating a separate public school district or by a private school alternative to the public system, the effect is the same-- I don't have to send my money to educate Those People's Children.

Call it a side effect of the narrowed view of education that has been sold during the modern reform era-- public education is not an institution or public good that serves all of society by preparing all students to take their place as citizens, but is instead a commodity purchased by a family to benefit their children. Once you start thinking of education as a toaster or new car that you buy for your kids, it's a logical step to ask why you should be buying toasters for other peoples' kids, or why you shouldn't get to shop around till you find the very best toaster that your own money can buy for you. We'll offer a couple of toaster scholarships to deserving families to show we're not heartless, but otherwise I've got mine, Jack-- why should I be shelling out toaster money for Those People. It's the same ethos as the sports parent who insists his child is not there to serve the needs of the team, but the team is there to get his kid a scholarship or a contract.

Once you separate education from its value to the country as a whole and just keep talking about how schools are supposed to serve the families and the children and the money belongs to the child and the rest of the arguments that define education as an individual consumer good, then you can expect this kind of foolishness and resource hoarding-- a foolishness that is facilitated equally well by either school choice or local control of public schools.

It doesn't have to be this way. Consider this story from NYC, where parents have taken it upon themselves to push for de-segregating schools in their communities. District 3 and District 15 will take on more social and economic diversity this fall because of measures crafted and proposed by parents:

“Part of why we did this is we felt very strongly that you couldn’t improve just one school,” said Kristen Berger, who helped create the plan for Manhattan’s District 3, which includes the Upper West Side and Harlem. “That’s not very useful. It’s really a system. We really wanted to see movement at high- and low-demand schools.”

We can do better.

Friday, April 19, 2019

KY: DeVos, Bevin, Loving Vouchers, Hating Teachers

Betsy DeVos took her Education Freedom Voucher Tour to Kentucky, and things went just about as well as you could expect.

Secretary of Education DeVos has been crisscrossing the country in an attempt to sell her $5 billion voucher plan. Her latest stop was Kentucky, a state that has achieved a sort of choice limbo; there's a charter law on the books, but the legislature has so far refused to fund it, and so there are no charter schools.

But school choice has a friend in Governor Matt Bevin, a former investment manager and Tea Party fave who has oodles of ideas about privatizing education in Kentucky (including that stupid "retaining third graders who score low on a standardized reading test" idea). What doesn't Matt Bevin like? Well, see if you can pick up the subtle dig here.

Matt Bevin has had it with you. All of you. 
After the big education summit with Bevin, DeVos, and some other folks (more about this in a bit), Bevin was asked why the meeting did not include a single solitary human being who actually works in public education-- not a teacher, a principal, a public school leader. His response?

The people here care about the kids. Every single person who sat around this table cares about the children. Not about funding. Not about territory. Not about power. Not about politics. They care about parents and they care about students.

Okay, so it wasn't subtle at all (and if you watch him say it, there's no softening via context, either.)  All those people who actually have dedicated their adult lives to working in public education do not care about students. They're just in it for the money and the power.

So other than this rather dickish slam at public education folks, what came out of the day?

Well, that meeting gathered state officials including Wayne Lewis (Education Commissioner), Hal Heiner (Board of Education Chair), Derrick Ramsey (Education and Workforce Development), and Aaron Thompson (Postsecondary Education). Then throw in  representatives from EdChoice Kentucky, Catholic Conference of Kentucky, Kentucky Public [sic] Charter Schools Association, and Bluegrass Institute for Public Policy Solutions.

Does it seem that the deck is stacked? Well, here's more. You might think that the Kentucky Public [sic] Charter Schools Association might be an odd organization to exist when Kentucky has no actual charter schools. But it exists, and though its website gives little clue about who it is exactly, its 990 forms indicate that it has existed with a paltry budget of a few thousand dollars. Only three years of forms show up (2014, 2015, 2016). In 2014 and 2015, the chairman of the group was Wayne Lewis, now the education commissioner, and a hard-core charter promoter. In 2016, no chair is listed; the top name is Milton Seymore, retired Ford exec, Baptist pastor, and for a time, Kentucky Board of Education chair appointed by Bevin. Gary Houchens is also a KPCSA member and Bevin Board of Education appointee.

DeVos was there to encourage the folks at the table to "keep at it and keep fighting" even though they had suffered some "frustrations" (aka "defeats").

DeVos also took some actual questions afterwards.

She and Bevin framed the "opportunity" for workforce development (train those meat widgets) and pointed out that Democrat reps should be pushing this because education is totally not political (said the governor who has pulled all the political levers he can get his hands on to push his education policies, which are, in fact, business policies. Pro tip-- privatizing public education is a political act.

Asked to address the issue of how vouchers drain resources from public schools, DeVos skipped her usual answer ("It totally wouldn't") for a different non-answer. First, it meets the needs of kids who don't fit in public schools. Unless, of course, their needs are expensive adaptations or ELL needs or behavioral needs, etc. Second, "in every state" where charters have been installed, results in public schools "get better right along with" the chartered students. Except that, of course, not all charter students do better, and research certainly doesn't indicate that public schools near charters get better in every state. So, not actually an answer, and not actually true.

Another reporter asks about full funding for IEA to benefit students with special education needs, and DeVos starts with a non-answer then pivots to a spectacular tale about Florida and how their choice programs have allowed families to "customize" the education of those students. You can watch the clip at the bottom of this post, complete with Bevin's two-pointy-finger angry non-answer regarding the exclusion of public education folks. Also, is it just me, or does Bevin always look like he wants to punch someone? Judge for yourself in the clip.

Some public ed folks did have some thoughts about the summit:

"Today’s meeting was nothing more than a photo-op for a failed governor and a failed education secretary who refuse to listen to those who may disagree with their proposals," the Kentucky Education Association said in a statement. "In November, Kentucky voters can decide if they want two individuals like Bevin and DeVos who never attended public school to make policy for their children’s futures, or do they want local educators, school board members, superintendents and parents looking out for what’s best for their neighborhood school"

That seems like a fair assessment. Stay tuned for the next stop on DeVos's Doomed Voucher Proposal Tour.

Creating More Defective Children

This has always been a dangerous side effect of educational certainty. If I'm absolutely certain that my program is awesome, my pedagogy is flawless, my materials are on point, and classroom is just generally perfect-- and yet some students are not learning-- well, there's only one possible explanation. The student must be defective.

The defect effect appears to be cropping up in a new place. As reported in EdWeek, a new report published in the New England Journal of Medicine suggests that children who turn five the month before kindergarten starts are, as a group, being over-diagnosed with ADHD.

"Our findings suggest the possibility that large numbers of kids are being over-diagnosed and overtreated for ADHD because they happen to be relatively immature compared to their older classmates in the early years of elementary school," said study author Timothy Layton, and assistant professor of health care policy at Harvard Medical School.

Relative immaturity is one factor to consider here. But why would this start cropping up in recent years; why wouldn't the relative immaturity of August babies be so well-known and widely recognized from the last century of schooling that schools would simply set an earlier cut-off date? In Pennsylvania, 78% of school districts make the cut-off September 1. There is some anecdotal reporting of increased redshirting but the study above suggests that perhaps there should be more.

Are we looking at a correction to bad education policy being made at the grassroots level.

In other words, if kindergarten is the new first grade, are more parents concluding that 6 is the new 5. As we crank up kindergarten to be more academic, more sitting, less playing, less child-friendly, it's not surprising to find that more students are being diagnosed (probably incorrectly) with ADHD and more parents deciding their child isn't ready for the rigors of kindergarten just yet.

Is there harm in such an adjustment? Hard to say-- there can be issues with not getting out of high school until you're eighteen. But any problems caused by this new shift could be addressed by any district-- let first grade be the new first grade and let five year olds be five year olds. Developmentally inappropriate schooling will always generate problems, but this is a situation where the solutions are easy and readily available.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Why DeVos Doesn't Care About Charter Closings

During the recent House hearings, Betsy DeVos was confronted with some of the results of the Network for Public Education study of federal dollars going to charters, a huge number of which have closed or never even opened. She was unmoved:

Let me first comment on the study you’re referring to. I’m not sure you can even call it a study. We’re looking more closely at it of course, and anything that is truly waste, fraud, or abuse we will certainly address. But the reality is that the study was really funded by and promoted by those who have a political agenda against charter schools. And the other reality is that there are currently over one million students on wait lists for charter schools in the country. So, we want to see more charter schools, not fewer. More students that can access options that are right for them, not fewer.

This week Diane Ravitch and Carol Burris of the NPE wrote an open letter to DeVos further detailing some of the fraud and waste. Here's a collection of 109 charters in Michigan that took federal grant money and closed, or never opened at all. They amount to over $20 million in federal money that is simply gone with nothing to show for it (remember, this is only looking at the charter grants issued by the Department of Education-- if we start looking at all charters funded through various state and philanthropic money, the list gets much longer). Ohio, California and Louisiana are other bad examples. Ohio flushed away over $35 million-- 40% of the federally funded charters failed.

None of this is likely to matter to DeVos. Like many free market true believers in the reformster world, she is going to view the closing and churning of charters as a feature, not a bug. This is how the market they envision is supposed to work-- schools are opened, some thrive, some fail, the failed ones close to be replaced by some other enterprising entrepreneur. It is, I think, one of the great ironies of hard right conservative Christians like DeVos-- on the one hand, they reject the notion of biological evolution, but on the other hand, they absolutely believe in survival of the fittest. Propping up a failing business goes against the law of nature.

That's why the hearings also included an exchange with Senator Jack Reed about infrastructure. He points out that there are school buildings that need to be rescued and updated and mentions his plan to invest 100 billion in infrastructure, to which DeVos replies:

Well I think it’s an interesting proposal. A very costly one at that. I think what I would actually advocate for is giving more students and more parents more freedom and choices to find the right fit for their child’s education. I think we are going to make more progress and have more gains in student achievement if students are able to find schools and education environments that work specifically for them. 

Don't bail out the struggling public schools. Let them fail. Betsy "Public education is a dead end" DevVos has certainly tipped her hand before, and Valerie Strauss picks out what might be the critical quote of the hearing:

“We need traditional public schools to be held to the same accountability standards" as charter schools.

Which pairs up with this another response to the NPE report:

When you have experimentation you are always going to have schools that don’t make it and that is exactly as what should happen. They should close. And let’s also look at how many traditional public schools have closed because they are not doing well for their students.

I don't think DeVos is attempting a "Nanny nanny boo boo-- public schools close a bunch, too." Because very few public schools close compared to charters, and I think she knows that. I think her point is, "Very few public schools close and that's further proof that they're bad and wrong." When she says public schools should be held to the same accountability standard, she means that public schools should be subject to Death By Foot-based Voting. All parents should be able to walk away from a public school and take their money with them. That's her premise and her message; the unstated assumption is that right-thinking Godly parents will beat feet out of public school faster than an Amway rep racing a Mormon missionary to your front door.

It's also worth noting that this all fits with the idea of a portfolio approach, that latest growing-in-reformster-popularity governance model being pushed by the City Group. Under a portfolio model, charters and public schools are lumped together in a group that operates charter-style, with features like a universal application that lets the system sort out the students. The portfolio is supposed to churn, just as you would regular add and remove investments from your financial portfolio depending on their performance. Schools, both charter and public, would be shut down, opened up, transferred to new management, and otherwise churned. That churn could be based on "performance" indicators like test scores, but it could also be based on market share-- how many feet vote for or against.

This is one of the area where choicers have a fundamental disagreement with public education advocates. For public schools, stability is a basic foundational value. The school is a community institution, and like all institutions, part of its values comes from its continuity, its connections to tradition, the past. It means something to people to see their children and neighbors all passing through the same halls, having the same teachers, being part of a community collective that stretches across the years. For free market Reformsters, anything that gets in the way of their idea of free market mechanics is bad; there should be winners and losers and the market should judge their worth, ruthlessly culling the weak and undeserving.

Reformsters know they have a hard sell. That's why they don't try to use this as a selling point ("Don't forget-- the school your child chooses could close at any time due to market consitions! Isn't that awesome!") That's why they are adamant about calling charters "public" schools-- because it lulls the customers into believing that charters share some of the fundamental characteristics of public schools, like stability and longevity. They (e.g. Governor DeSantis of Florida) also want to hold onto "public" because the change to privately owned and operated market based schools is the end of public education as we know it; it truly is privatization, and almost nobody pushing these policies has the guts to publicly say, "I propose that we end public education and replace it with privately owned and operated businesses, some of which will reserve the right to refuse service to some of you, and all of which may not last long enough to see your child from K through 12."

The person who almost has the guts to almost say this is, ironically, Betsy DeVos-- the person charged with taking care of the public system that she would like to kill. What a wacky world we live in. So don't expect her to be moved by all the waste of tax dollars paying for failed or fraudulent charter schools; every time a charter school closes, a free market reformster gets their wings, and Betsy is a-fixin' to fly.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

The Charter Effect On Teachers

Unions, we have been told, have a deleterious effect on  teachers, forcing them to accept lousier deals than they could get in a free market where they each negotiated their own deals. In such a market, schools would compete for teachers, bidding up the salary offers. Teachers could negotiate from a place of strength. No teacher would ever want a union ever gain.

I confess that there was a time when I thought this might be true. Long ago, I thought that whatever their flaws, charter and choice systems would turn popular and successful teachers into sports stars, with schools throwing money and cars and lord-knows-what-else at them.

There were several factors I didn't reckon with, the chief one being the degree to which the charter industry would view teachers less like LeBron James and more like Pat the fry cook. I didn't foresee that charterpreneurs would imagine a system where the teacher was just a fleshy bot, a particularly lifelike animatronic content delivery device with a shelf life of only a few years. I failed to realize that a teacher's ability to walk away would be overshadowed by a school's ability to fire teachers for any reason at all.

Over the years the anecdotes kept rolling in to show me how wrong I was. But there was also some actual research, like this report from Public Source in Allegheny County PA (the county that surrounds Pittsburgh). I missed this report when it came out two years ago, but it's worth looking at now.

Public Source did a separate report about charter staff turnover. The turnover is high, and that's destabilizing for students, but charter operators have generally considered it a feature, not a bug. Is it related to teacher pay and job security? That's the question Public Source asks in this report.

They actually start with the question "Will charters and cybercharters honor Right-To-Know requests?" and the answer was mostly, kind of. But that was the data the report had to work with.

So do charter teachers in Allegheny County enjoy high wages, driven by competition? The answer is no. Charters are not filled with teachers who jumped ship from public education because someone waved big money at them. The report did find a correlation between teacher pay and student results, so there's that. But it also found that charter teachers could expect to make less money than their public school counterparts. Median pay for charter teachers was about $10,000 less than the public school teachers in the county.

Charters offered some explanation for low teacher pay, including the idea that charter faculty are mostly newbies, just starting and so gettin bottom dollar (so I guess the old reformy refrain about how fresh, new teachers are better to have than old, crusty teachers does not inform pay scales).

But some charters are coming up with creative ways to handle turnover...

To improve teacher retention at Propel Schools, financial incentives have been added in recent years, said Superintendent Tina Chekan.

They include pay bumps at the five- and 10-year thresholds and bonuses for teachers who participate in the Teacher Career Pathways program through which they seek ways to have impact beyond their classrooms by helping to coach or train colleagues.

So a pay scale that you move up as you stick around. Also, extra pay for extra duties. That is completely not revolutionary, and as noted before, seems to fly in the face of the reformy notion that zippy young teachers make a better staff than crotchety old ones. It's almost as if experience with the school population combined with the stability the school gets from staff continuity- it's almost as if that stuff has real value.

The study also found some charter staffs deciding that they did, in fact, need a union. Not just for issues of pay, but "the lack of job security and the desire to have a voice on issues like curriculum and best practices." As noted by said Carol Mintus, who served as the union president at the former PA Learners Online Regional Charter School [PALO].

When you have teachers who fear day after day for their jobs, they are not able to put the energy into teaching that they need to. If teachers aren't secure, eventually it's the kids who suffer.

The report does not mention the other issue here; if charters are the school of last resort, the school where teachers go to work when they can't find work elsewhere (and remember-- we're in the middle of a nationwide teacher shortage), what does that tell us about the quality of charter schools?

The golden age that charters were supposed to usher in for teachers still hasn't appeared; all indications are that we should not hold our breath.