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New Harvest Charter School: Down in Flames; Ivy “League” Charter School: Illegal?

November 3rd, 2007

I don’t care so much for the charter schools. You may already know this. If the district decided to not open any new ones I would tell them, “Excellent decision!” If they decided to shut down the ones already in existence and tell parents, “Go to your neighborhood school or go private. No more charters” I would be content and would stop writing about this.

I don’t care for how the charters steal from the neighborhood schools and business community, even when they’re claiming that the bulk of their students have been homeschoolers, or will arrive from private schools.

I do not believe this, knowing several families who are not attending their North/Northeast neighborhood schools because a charter option was available. I do not like the way we are at war in my neighborhood, and in my city, over the public schools — or what is “passing” as a public school but is in actuality private and exclusionary.

I do not like being told by parents that my children’s school is a “bad” school and why am I continuing to be a “bad” parent by “forcing” my children to go there?

(My kids love their school. I do not always love their school, but my kids are happy there, learning, growing, and yes, yes, yes — happy.) (Also, I think what a lot of this contentiousness boils down to is this: “School Choice” and my God, do I hate that phrase, is now equated with “parenting styles.” So there is a lot of comparing, shaming, blaming, all of that going on. No, I’m not a bad mom, thanks for your concern.)

I am in favor of teachers’ unions. (I am pro-union, all the way.) I am in favor of teachers, aides and staff getting paid fair wages and receiving medical, dental, disability and life insurance. The Ivy School’s application includes health benefits for teachers and the school director. Health benefits are not included for educational assistants. The application says nothing about benefits for school administrative staff, food workers, maintenance people, custodians. The New Harvest School’s application states a “goal” for health and wellness: to “offer health services by licensed health care professionals for NHCS staff and families 2-4 times per year.” The report from PPS states: “The types of services and budgetary impact are not described there.”

Would that my family were only sick “2-4 times per year.” What a fantasy that is.

Yesterday, I went to the first meeting in a series involving New Harvest Charter School and the Ivy Montessori School.

I am underwhelmed — by their shenanigans, by their lack of curriculum, by the way they insult the neighborhood schools in the neighborhoods they plan to invade. The Ivy School wants to position itself in the Cully neighborhood — go Harvey Scott!!! (my alma mater) go Rigler!; New Harvest is hoping for a St. Johns location — go Roosevelt! Rosa Parks! James John! Sitton!!! Go, go, go — we have not forgotten that you are there).

Hockey God went over the reports presented at the meeting and summed them up right here.

OK — start sending the hate-mails. I can deal.

34 Comments

  1. Jenny McB says

    My Mom subs for a charter school in Massachusetts, just some thoughts from that, Nepotism is huge, teachers are young and the excellent teachers don’t stay long, pay is low and I want to know…who do they answer to? If getting in is by application, then of course the test scores are going to look good if you can handpick and leave out the SPED kids. I read Hockey God’s post, sounds like your board saw through the glitter for one of the schools.
    I agree with you.

    November 3rd, 2007 | #

  2. WackyMommy says

    Jenny,
    Thanks for weighing in — I have been wondering how charters have been working in other parts of the country. I’ve heard from New Orleans residents that it is not going well at all with the charters.

    November 3rd, 2007 | #

  3. Gabrielle says

    Thanks for the update. If my vote counted I would vote to have my neighborhood school back (Meek Elementary). Instead, I am sure I will see more casualties …more school closures before this war on education is over. And of course Ivy is just one more to pull from our school down to 40% enrollment.
    I just wish that my son loved Vernon the way your kid loves their school. So we have thought a lot about whether this makes us bad parents trying to convince him every school day, “it will be good today, it will be better then yesterday, you will get used to it, I respect that you don’t like it but can you try it again one more day for me? I know you don’t like being hit by other kids, or that you have this ridiculous reading program and the testing in pre-k”….but it isn’t getting better and now he is nearly in tears every day that papa comes to pick him up. So much for supporting our (redistricted) neighborhood school…we aren’t selling our home so now come the options….

    November 3rd, 2007 | #

  4. Steve says

    Gabrielle, we had a very similar situation at a private Montessori school for our daughter’s first year of preschool. She was barely three, and not at all ready to be away from her family. The school was a nightmare, but we didn’t know (we had nothing to compare it to).

    Our daughter was getting hit and spit at, and even had a bucket of sand dumped on her head. In retrospect, knowing what we know now, we never should have kept her there as long as we did.

    The good news is that she doesn’t remember any of it, and she’s thriving in third grade.

    November 3rd, 2007 | #

  5. WackyMommy says

    Gabrielle,
    It is not OK that your kid is getting hit and not feeling safe at school. Have you talked with the teacher and principal? This is a tough one, because you don’t want to let your emotions about what is happening to your kid affect him and make it worse. But you want him to know that it’s not all right, what is happening.

    Some kids do have a very tough time in even the best of pre-k classes, especially those who have not been in daycare. (Ours weren’t, so they were less prepared than some of the other students.)

    E me off list if you’d like — I have a few ideas for you.

    November 3rd, 2007 | #

  6. Mallory says

    I do not like charters, Sam-I-am. Most of them have huge gaping holes in their offerings, like no gym or no library, etc. Also I agree that they are union busters, not willing to pay teachers what they are worth and treating support staff like crap. My kids went to the elementary your kids go to. It is not at all a bad school; we loved that school. It had its problems but every school does. But it was overall loving and nurturing and my kids got a great start there. When my oldest had to go to middle school, I moved youngest at the same time because I could, it was k-8 and it was easier on me as a single mom to have them both in the same place. Also, the Boys and Girls Club brings a van to pick them up after school and take them to the club–for free! That is huge if you are working poor. Why don’t more schools offer that? That, more than the program or the test scores or the accelerated curriculum, drew me to the magnet school. I am so glad they are catching on a little and offering more programs at neighborhood schools. I think every school should be a SUN school. Use the money from NOT funding the charters.

    November 4th, 2007 | #

  7. megs says

    Sounds to me like that Pre-K teacher needs some help. Are there too many kids in the class? Is there only one adult, or does she have an aid? Perhaps there should be 2 or 3 parent volunteers in the room at all times. That might help solve the problem. Are there parent volunteers at the school? Just some ideas.

    November 4th, 2007 | #

  8. Gabrielle says

    Thanks for the insight. Yes, our son was in a great preschool that he thrived in for one year prior to pre-k (Friendly House Preschool, an absolutely wonderful school with excellent staff). In fact he loved it so much he was always disappointed on no school days.
    There is only one teacher in his pre-k class at Vernon and he is spread thin. He doesn’t seem eager to have volunteers either (he said a lot of parents disrupt what he is trying to do or leave huge messes for him to clean). Since this is only pre-k we have thought of just pulling him but his birthday is after the kindergarten cut off so he is already 5 and we were hoping this would prepare him for kindergarten.
    Wacky Mommy I tried emailing you off-line and it bounced back after a day.

    Gabrielle

    November 4th, 2007 | #

  9. megs says

    The teacher needs to learn how to utilize parents if the district won’t provide an assist.

    November 4th, 2007 | #

  10. WackyMommy says

    Gabrielle,
    Sorry! Try it again? It’s wacky mommy at wacky mommy dot org

    I tried yours and it bounced back, too!

    Poor teacher — he needs to learn how to work with the parents. Some of our teachers at school do volunteer trainings en masse for the parents — a 1-hour session, going over what they need, expect, etc.

    November 4th, 2007 | #

  11. InTheFastLane says

    The charter schools in our area do not seem to be any better than the bad schools that they are drawing kids from. He have had 5 students transfer from one charter school in the area to our school in the last few years and everyone of those students was behind academically and socially. I don’t know, however whether to blame the charter school or their school district or the economic status of that area. But, it certainly does not give me a good vibe for charters.

    November 7th, 2007 | #

  12. Daisy says

    Hey Wacky (and Steve) thanks for fighting the good fight.

    I resent how these charters play off the fears and prejudices of parents. I went to one open house and it was appalling how they kept referring to the neighborhood schools in derogatory ways, as if their charter was the only option for any loving parents, and anyone considering a public school must need a visit from CPS.

    What I really noticed too was despite all this hippy bs talk about “culture” there was not a single minority staff person, and no effort whatsoever to be diverse. Sorry, dancing around a stupid Maypole in your Hanna cotton smocks is not diversity.

    Charters are the hippy/liberal version of white flight. They can doll it up in all the progressive claptrap they want. They are still elitist, exclusionary, classist, and racially polarizing. Yeah, union busting too.

    November 7th, 2007 | #

  13. Steve says

    Come on, Daisy, tell us how you really feel.

    Heh. “…dancing around a stupid Maypole in your Hanna cotton smocks…”

    November 7th, 2007 | #

  14. WackyMommy says

    …and stripedy socks.

    I agree, it’s all an easy way to get a person’s own privileged white kids away from the “riff-raff” and feel good about it. The kids are being spit out of charter schools and coming back to the neighborhood schools, though, so that’s something.

    November 7th, 2007 | #

  15. gay says

    As someone who spent two years of their life starting a charter school, it makes me sad and puzzled that anyone with intellectual leanings could really maintain a charter-schools-are-bad posture. It’s 2007, 10 years after the law was passed and we are moving on, baby. Check out what’s happening in New York City-the era of school board and union control of education is in its twilight and not everyone is upset. Many more people are aghast at the results produced by the failing public school system and
    are quite glad to see it shaken up.

    November 12th, 2007 | #

  16. WackyMommy says

    It’s not going all that well in New York, or New Orleans. And in Ohio, the charter schools are being sued.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11.....odayspaper

    Gov. Ted Strickland said he wanted to carry out his own crackdown.

    “Perhaps somewhere, charter schools have been implemented in a defensible manner, where they have provided quality,” he said. “But the way they’ve been implemented in Ohio has been shameful. I think charter schools have been harmful, very harmful, to Ohio students.”

    November 13th, 2007 | #

  17. gay says

    Fine. So some people are misguided and incompetent, this is a problem everywhere, not just for fledgling charter schools. But the tired assumption that districts are the only organizations who should be allowed to run schools is just one more tenet supporting the status quo, which is a deplorable one. Reading rates are higher in Kerala, India, than they are in the lovely state of Oregon. You want better protections for laborers? Try protecting their literacy.
    And for a birdseye view of the future, try this link:
    http://www.economist.com/world.....d=10104912.

    I notice Portland’s high school graduation rate eerily similar to NYC’s.

    November 13th, 2007 | #

  18. WackyMommy says

    Gay,
    Fine back. I’ve decided that today is No Arguing With Assclowns on the Internet Day. Par-tay!!!

    November 13th, 2007 | #

  19. Steve says

    Harumph!

    Funny how charter schools advocates assume we’re happy with the status quo. Especially in light of how much we’ve been busting our collective hump to make things better for everybody.

    Their solution is to make things better for themselves in a manner that is destructive to the system that the majority of people are stuck with. And they’ve got the nerve to whine about all the work they’ve done for their own little elitist realm and throw stones at those of us who have worked far longer for the common good.

    Again I say: Harumph!

    November 13th, 2007 | #

  20. gay says

    Umm, if you read the economist link I wonder how excellence academy is “elitist”, exactly? Because it caters to poor inner city kids and gets results?

    November 13th, 2007 | #

  21. Steve says

    I wasn’t talking about your link. I was talking about the elitist charters (and would-be charters) in Portland, cozy little escape valves to keep middle-class white kids safe from those dirty public schools and the unwashed masses who send their kids there.

    Again I say: Harumph!

    November 13th, 2007 | #

  22. gay says

    Cozy little escape valves? Like SEI, McCoy Academy, and LEP, organizations that serve disadvantaged students? Like Opal, which has better diversity numbers than the most sought after Portland elementary schools (Winterhaven, Sunnyside, MLC, etc) which are overwhelmingly white and middle class, with the exception of Spanish immersion programs? Charter schools in Portland are not elitist. Why don’t you spend a day volunteering at Trillium? Shame on you for painting us as uncaring and selfish. I spend a great deal of my time teaching the under-served kids at our school and your comments really display your ignorance about who we are.

    November 13th, 2007 | #

  23. WackyMommy says

    Shame on me? WTF?

    Are you Gay Harris, the founder of the Waldorf Village Charter School?

    “We Are A Charter School — We Do Not Care So Much About the Other Schools in the Neighborhood.”

    November 13th, 2007 | #

  24. Steve says

    Wow, Opal has better diversity numbers… than the whitest schools in Portland.

    Is that all you got?

    Why don’t I spend a day volunteering at Trillium? Why don’t you spend a day volunteering at Vernon?

    Harumph!

    November 13th, 2007 | #

  25. Daisy says

    Gay, comparing SEI to charter schools such Trillium or Ivy is disengenous at best. SEI was created as an after school program for black kids, and has longstanding connections to community schools including Ockley Green. Tony Hopson has been one of the loudest advocates to improve the community schools in North and Northeast, not to lure parents and children away from them and bleed them dry of funds.

    What are the demographic at Trillium? I know only one black family who sent their kids there. From what I had observed as a neighbor, it is nearly all white, and this in an area which is diverse.

    There is a reason why most charter schools in Portland are racially segregated, and yes, elitist. One is a lack of programs for working poor parents, such as SUN school. Another is a lack of diversity among their own staff.

    The third is the way these schools are trying to appeal to parents by playing up the racially coded fears and biases against their community schools, such as your flip comment about illiteracy, as if all neighborhood school students are illiterate failure, while those who attend your school are better educated.

    I was educated in one of the most maligned NE schools myself (Woodlawn) and today my kids attend another maligned school (Ockley). I would much rather have my children attend school with a diverse population, experienced UNION teachers, and grow up with humility and life experience, rather than assume that by virtue of calling itself a charter, a school will offer a superior experience. What I see more of is a superior attitude.

    November 13th, 2007 | #

  26. BlackFriend says

    I would never send my child to Trillium. Nor be thrilled with any of the white children I love going there. My understanding was that Trillium got chartered to be a diverse school, yet the founders were exclusively white and middle/upper class, mostly tired of driving across town to SES, daVinci, MLC. Not people who routinely shared a meal around the breakfast nook nor dining table with people of color. A friend sent her kid there, was thwarted by white parents who ran the charter in her efforts to organize parents and students of color.

    All the charter folks know that they have to pay lip service to “diversity” to get a charter. My play husband Steve said it all when he said it’s about keeping their kids away from the unwashed masses of N/NE Portland schools. The location allows for one to claim some car-free props as well.

    November 14th, 2007 | #

  27. WackyMommy says

    Your play husband, oh you’re funny! This kid — OK. I won’t say where, but we were out and about. told me (all in one breath), “I-go-to-a-school-one-mile-from-my-house.” I was like, who programmed you, little dude?

    Turns out he was talking about the new Waldorf Village School charter. So yeah, “car-free! One mile from our house! See? Good, see?”

    Me: “Go to your neighborhood school.” (Broken record.)

    November 14th, 2007 | #

  28. Zarwen says

    Winterhaven may be one of the most sought-after schools in the district, but I doubt it’s one of the whitest. My son’s class is 36% minority. I know because I am in that classroom every week and I know every single child in it!

    I have heard that the founders of Trillium used to run the Family Co-op program at Sunnyside before it got dismantled–which was why they founded Trillium!

    November 14th, 2007 | #

  29. gay says

    Daisy,

    I do not feel flip about our literacy problem, and did not intend to sound so. I am not suggesting neighborhood schools in Portland turn out “illiterate failures”, as you suggest.

    I AM saying that the Oregon literacy problem is a critical
    issue. Our current model of education leadership is not working. Last year the Oregon eighth grade reading pass rate was 58%. These kinds of numbers are a social emergency.

    If the charter school law is the only way to experiment in new forms of school leadership, then it stands to reason that it will be utilized by progressives as well as by the reactionaries being harped about. on this site I see no evidence of reactionary leadership in the charter schools in Portland. Our school is a third minority and we have plenty of needy kids, both socially and educationally
    speaking. It is so sad that there is so much anger here against charter schools. It is really misplaced. This is not Ohio, Oregon has one of the lowest percentages of kids in charter schools in the country.

    November 14th, 2007 | #

  30. Gabrielle says

    I still believe that the that ultimate goal is to privatize education. This is a government expeirment funded by tax payers. If as is suggested that Charter schools are outpacing (percentage wise) their peers in regular public school on test, graduation rates, lower drop out rates, and all the other statistics used, then the government wins. Isn;t this an effective way to bust the teachers union? And isn’t this a great way to demonstrate to the public why all schools should be closed and converted to charter schools? But waite……what happens to the ESL students that I am not seeing enrolled in charter schools here, special learners, what about a school nurse? As the sister of a medically fragile brother, I had to watch as my parents sued in the 80’s for my brother to attend our neighborhood school. The school was refusing to provide the required nurse, but my parents prevailed. Where is that money going to come from once all schools are privatized as quasi-public charter schools for all the students that don’t fit the profile of our current charter schools? Speech tharapist? School Psychologist? Social Workers?

    November 14th, 2007 | #

  31. Gabrielle says

    WM-
    I sent you an email from my aol account since I can’t seem to send one from my work account (darn nonprofit budget!).

    November 14th, 2007 | #

  32. WackyMommy says

    Gay,
    Are you Gay Harris from the Waldorf Village Charter?

    November 14th, 2007 | #

  33. gay says

    Seriously, why would you care? Your opinions about me is so low and so fixed in stone I am surprised you would be interested. Calling me an Assclown doesn’t exactly want to make me cozy up to you on the couch, if you get my drift.

    November 14th, 2007 | #

  34. Steve says

    What’s amazing to me is that she feels the need to justify herself and her school to us. Whatever!

    …er, I mean, you’re right! Why didn’t I see this all along?

    November 14th, 2007 | #

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