Monday, July 28, 2008

Money Talks (Chinese)

Last year the Pioneer Valley Chinese Charter School was the only entity to receive a public school charter by the State Department of Education. This morning Congressman Richie Neal announced the school was one of only 8 public schools in the nation and the only charter school--to win a $1.5 million foreign language grant from the Federal Department of Education

The press conference, attended by a bevy of parents and children, was held in their new location the former KidSports health club in Hadley. The first year of operation the Chinese Charter School was located in South Amherst and consisted of Kindergarten and First grade. This coming September the school will add second grade, and every year add another grade until eighth, where full enrollment is expected at 300 children.


Anonymous said...

Charter School Good, Public School Bad...

Percentage of charter school students able to pass a drug test -- ~100%.
Percentage of ARMS students -- well??????

Number of bombs brought into the charter school - 0. Number of Anthrax scares in the charter school - 0. Number of times that the Vagina Monologue has (or ever would be) performed - 0...

I say have a charter high school....

Anonymous said...

Has anyone drug tested any of the PVPA students lately? If so, my guess is that this theory would get blown out of the water.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Not all charter schools are good.
Something in the back of my mind tells me that the PVPA had a bit of trouble with its recertification.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry but until somebody can show me stats that prove that economically disadvantaged people are getting the advantage of these private school educations funded by public dollars, I cannot support any charter schools.

I truly believe that our state would have done far better to go with the concept of magnet schools for all public school systems.

The charter system is stacked very heavily in favor of the upper class maneuvering through the bureaucracy, writing proposals, getting funded with much vested interest.

I know that's not something you really want to hear nor agree with but, as I stated in my first paragraph, the economically disadvantaged (in non Amherst speak: POOR, UNEDUCATED) do not have the same access.

Prove me wrong? You can't point to income solely cause we have a lot of technically poor folk in this town and valley who are educated and adept at getting lots paid for by other people. I'm talking about poor, uneducated kids whose parents can't traverse the charter system by writing props. and who don't have the ability to get their kids names into lotteries etc.

Magnet public schools can accomplish that; as each kid is required to attend public school and education professionals can evaluate and help kids choose appropriate schools.

My opinion certainly but so far my observations of these suburbia charter schools seem to support that opinion.


Anonymous said...

Charter Schools & Poor/Minorities

I would suggest going through the Pioneer Institute's website ( relative to the issue of charter schools and poverty. The valley is unique - as are the two charter schools here in that they have unique interests (arts/language). This area neither reflects the Commonwealth nor the country as a whole (trust me!).

Agreed that the poor don't have the ability to *start* charter schools (although rich activists could stop screaming about oppression and sit down and HELP THEM do it...) but the thing to remember is that (in Massachusetts) every student in the school's service area who meets the specifications of the school has an equal ability to attend. The school has to take students by lottery, they can't pick and choose (beyond the students of the founders). (No one has yet really quite figured out how to deal with the SPED students, and that is an issue, but outside my point.)

Remember too that most charter schools are more geared toward general academic excellence, often with emphasis on specific minority communities, sorta like the "North Village Single Mother's charter school." See

For example, when you call yourself the Benjamin Banneker Charter School, you kinda even identify yourself in your very name. (Remember who Benjamin Banneker was.) See

Agreed that the poor might not have many advantages but they can get up at 5 AM and stand in line the day that the charter school is accepting new students AND MANY DO. There are studies - Pioneer and elsewhere - that indicate that poor/minority parents see charter schools as something they want and that they not only want their kids in them but do fairly well in this attempt.

I remember the head of a Cambridge (MA) charter school -- this is the Cambridge where Harvard is located -- saying that the DoE's evaluation was problematic because while his students were averaging one grade level below age, they were doing better than their peers in the City of Cambridge schools. He also added that the vast majority of his students were minorities - and this is in Cambridge.

While one would think that the rich white parents would be the ones founding charter schools, overall this is not what is happening. The rich white parents can either move to communities where they like the schools, or they can afford to send their kids to private schools -- and they do. They have the money to pay for what they want...

They are not going to lower themselves to sending their kids to schools largely housed in abandoned retail establishments (Kidsports is a unique example, usually it is a storefront). They are not going to be willing to do such things as help mop the floors or shovel the snow - things that many charter schools require parents to help do because they can't afford to hire the staff.

Even the charter schools that don't require this often require the physical presence of parents to the extent that neither the rich white YUPPIES nor the welfare people are willing to do. It is like the Catholic schools (very popular with non-Catholic urban parents), they provide an option to poor parents who care about their children.

And the untold story in K-12 is the number of Baptist Black Parents who are sending their kids to Catholic schools -- and the reasons why. And the charter schools are largely attracting the same parents.

Sure there are charter schools with problems (including the aforementioned Cambridge one) but then again, how many female public school teachers have wound up pregnant from their male students? (And how many more remembered to take their birth control pills or at least were bright enough not to name the child's father????)

As an educator (and certified teacher) I do not consider the "poor denied access" to be a valid critique of the charter school movement. There *are* other concerns, but this is not one.

Ed Cutting, MEd, CAGS
School of Education, UMass Amherst