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Posted by madfloridian in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Thu Sep 30th 2010, 02:06 PM
I wrote about a school board member who watched the Education Nation series, and it made him upset because he knew why charter schools were scoring so well.

He knew as we all do that the local charter schools and magnet schools keep extremely high scores because they get rid of anyone who doesn't score well. Then they attack the public schools in an ugly way.

FL school board member demands that charters account for kids sent back to public schools.

School Board member Frank O’Reilly wants district official to start tracking how many students are transferred from charter schools to public schools as a result of their grades, social economic status or behavioral issues. During a work session this morning, O’Reilly read a letter sent by Harold Maready, superintendent of McKeel charter schools, to a parent about their third grader who flunked the FCAT.

“Your child does not meet the criteria to be a McKeel student,” O’Reilly read.

If public schools were to reject students based on their academic performance, then they could be A schools, too, O’Reilly said.

“We must take every child that comes through that door whether we like it or not,” O’Reilly said. ‘‘That is a public school paid by taxpayers’ dollars, and I like to remind Mr. Maready of that.”

Well, Mr. Maready of McKeel Academy got his nose a little bit out of joint, and a writer with local ties stepped up the rhetoric against his elite attitude.

Class Warfare, McKeel Academy Edition

He quotes Mr. Maready:

Maready said there needs to be drastic changes made in education, just as the MSNBC program pointed out.

“Analysis of the data would allow for an open forum to work together in solving the education issues in Polk County,” he said. “If we do not recognize there is a problem, then there cannot be a solution.”

Seems that NBC's series empowered the elites in charter school management to gloat just a little bit more than usual.

The writer blasts him.

Let me translate that answer into big boy speak: "You’re damn right we dump our difficult kids. In great numbers. And we’ll do it again. That’s our culture of achievement. And then we’ll brag about how different we are from traditional schools. Oh, and the magnet schools do it, so there."

How many dumped kids are we talking about? And who are they? Well, check out this sheet produced by the School District. Pay particular attention to the table at the top outlining transfer figures for the three McKeel schools. In McKeel Academy, the junior-senior high in Lakeland with 1,042 students, 130 students left for regular Polk School District schools in the 2009-2010 school year. That’s 12.5 percent of its enrollment. South McKeel Academy, a K-7, rid itself of 77 kids, about 7 percent of its enrollment. That’s in a mostly elementary school, where kids are generally easier to deal with and American schools generally do pretty well.

Maybe their parents got a letter like the one Frank read at the School Board Meeting, stating, “Your child does not meet the criteria to be a McKeel student.”

The writer makes a startling comment.

I hear now that the McKeel empire is trolling local private schools – perhaps a Catholic school or two – for their best students and jumping them ahead of the large wait list for the plebes. The recruiting pitch, I hear, is hey, you get an exclusive private school for free. Please someone deny this on the record so I can go track it down. Because I’d like to.

See there? That is the natural outcome of making a high stakes test the most important thing of all. The fight for high-scoring students is on, and true in-depth learning goes out the window.

I know that the arrogance behind Education Nation made me angry, truly angry. I am thinking it might have had the same effect on more people than I realized.

So to Frank O'Reilly and Billy Townsend, a big thumbs-up and kudos.

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