The LINE to apologize to Michigan CHARTER SCHOOLS forms to the LEFT!

November 4, 2017

(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

Regular Jayblog readers may recall the tizzy that some worked themselves into about Michigan charter schools after Betsy DeVos was nominated to serve as Secretary of Education. Oh they are horrible, terrible, no good, “Wild West” etc. Max Eden and others attempted to set the record straight, noting Credo studies and other evidence showing stronger performance for Michigan charters. Not everyone much cared to consider any of that evidence business, and rumors of horrible Michigan charter school performance linger on to this day.

Well it turns out that NAEP cohort gains reinforce the conclusions of the Credo study and two other studies finding positive charter results. Those look like respectable math gains and very strong reading gains for “the biggest school reform disaster in the country” to these eyes. NAEP cohort gains are not perfect or infallible measures, but they are pointing in the same direction as the studies. Moreover, cohort gains rank above merely looking at raw scores as measures of school quality, which is **ahem** precisely one of the mistakes that critics made.

If Michigan charters are a catastrophic failure, what are we to make of the majority of state education systems (aka the blue dots)? Maryland is getting nervous with all of this disaster talk. If Michigan charters are a reform disaster then the Maryland school system just might qualify as a non-reform post-nuclear zombie apocalypse extinction event.

Maryland need brainnnns…and SPF 50,000 sunscreen!

If Michigan’s charter school skeptics would like to take a crack at explaining the above data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress and the three studies showing positive results the comment section courteously awaits your visit. Otherwise the line to offer an apology to educators running Michigan charters and the students making academic progress in them forms to the left.



Patty Hearst and the Ed Reform Left

January 19, 2017

(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

So yesterday Elizabeth Warren read the six-inch Dark Lord of Nightmares’ letter at the DeVos confirmation hearing, and it got me to thinking about Patty Hearst. In the early 1970s heiress Patty Hearst was kidnapped by a radical left-wing terrorist organization, kept blindfolded and bound in a closet for weeks. She suffered terrible abuse. Eventually she grew sympathetic with the views of her captives, changed her name, and joined them in bank robberies and the creation of propaganda, eventually leading to her arrest and imprisonment in 1975. Hearst came to mind because MA charters are now effectively trapped, but have begun attempting to curry favor with their captors. President Carter commuted her sentence in the late 1970s and then someone bought a Bubba pardon for her on Ebay President Clinton pardoned her in 2001.

To my progressive friends in the education reform movement, let me respectfully suggest that this is not an example you wish to follow.

So Donald Trump will take the oath of office to become President of the United States tomorrow. I’m still shocked to write such a thing. To put things delicately, he’s not my cup of tea either. The American people however chose to elect him. They had other options available and the rules of the game regarding the Electoral College were known to all players in advance. I don’t know who hacked Podesta’s email but I’m pretty sure they didn’t force Hillary to avoid visiting Wisconsin and Michigan. Nor did they inexplicably direct millions of dollars to television ads in states like Arizona, Georgia and Texas in preference to more GOTV and efforts in the real swing states of MI and PA. If you are looking for the folks who lost this election for HRC, search Brooklyn rather than Moscow.

In 2008 I found myself attempting to assure my conservative friends that life would in fact go on despite the election of Barack Obama. Don’t get me wrong- I was no fan at the time and never became one. The world ended again in 2012…except it didn’t. I had liberal friends that were ready to move to Canada in 2004. I told them that I survived 8 years of Bill Clinton and that they would survive 8 years of Dubya. Sure enough they did. While Trump is unique in many ways, let’s try to remain open to the idea that the Founders prepared for scoundrels in high office and that this too just might pass.

Fear, loathing, triangulaton, whatever-Stockholm Syndrome is always bad look imo.



















Who’s a Little Massachusetts Charter School Fear Demon?

January 15, 2017

(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

So in a delightful episode of the television series classic Buffy the Vampire Slayer the Scooby Gang discovers that the demon terror du jour is approximately six inches tall. The demon babbles on about his fearsome power as the Dark Lord of Nightmares, only to have classy Giles admonish the good guys for taunting the boastful mini-monster in preference to a quick dispatching and well deserved stomp.

So…for some reason this scene came to mind when I read a letter that the Massachusetts Charter School Association sent to Elizabeth Warren opposing the nomination of Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Education.

Ok calm down-I know you have a lot of questions: Yes the same charter school association that helped burn through tens of millions of other people’s money only to lose decisively on a ballot measure to allow 12 new charters a year to open in the state. The same association whose sector is too small to meet the minimum reporting requirements in either Massachusetts or even Boston. Yes the same Elizabeth Warren that turned on them when they went to the ballot.

Well then, what do the wee-tiny Dark Lords of the Bay State’s safely contained charter sector have to say for themselves?

By all independent accounts, Massachusetts has the best charter school system in the country. We are providing high quality public school choices for parents across our state. Our urban schools are serving the highest need children in Massachusetts, and are producing results that have researchers double-checking their math. These gains held across all demographic groups, including African American, Latino, and children living in poverty.

(… according-six-year-study/hCpVGMeEQvNODUvB6bXhcK/story.html)

The cornerstone of the Massachusetts charter public school system is accountability. The process of obtaining and keeping a charter is deliberately difficult. The state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education is the sole authorizer and historically has approved only one out of every five applications. Once approved, each charter school must submit to annual financial audits by independent auditors and annual performance reviews by the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Every five years, each charter must be renewed after a process as rigorous as the initial application process. For-profit charter schools are prohibited by Massachusetts law.

Tremble before their fearsome technocratic awesomeness or they will DESTROY YOU!

Okay, so here is a new independent evaluation for you- MA charters are apparently effective for many of the small number of kids who will ever have the chance to attend them. That’s wonderful, but outside of that one can’t help but notice that very few people in MA, including Senator Warren, seemed overly impressed with either their bureaucratic compliance or test scores during the initiative. I can’t say I’m overly impressed with a sector that has approximately zero prospects for growth.

Moreover, if you find yourself stalemated at the legislature and crushed at the ballot box, does the scroll inside the “Break Glass in Case of Emergency” box say “Write a pompous letter to someone who was already a ‘no’ denouncing someone who supports your cause?” Let’s ask the 8-Ball whether it would be good to follow that advice:

Oh and by the way, the independent evaluations referenced in the letter that like Boston charters also like Detroit. As Max Eden noted:

The 2013 study of Michigan charter schools by Stanford’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) found that “charter students in Detroit gain over three months per year more than their counterparts at traditional public schools.” A 2015 CREDO study of 41 major cities concluded that Boston, Newark, Washington, D.C., and Detroit, “provide essential examples of school-level and system-level commitments to quality that can serve as models to other communities.

Some of these charter sectors-like Detroit btw- delightfully have the opportunity to grow and serve more students. Others apparently prefer to accept their containment and babble about their fearsome powers. Somehow it is not hard to imagine why Massachusetts voters administered a ballot box stomp.