The Bad and the Ugly of Charter Schools

By Curtis Kimbrell

Charter schools have been around for decades, but are now being discussed more and more in the educational and political space, due to the current administration. They can be described as “schools of choice,” but it’s becoming more and more clear that this isn’t the case. For the purpose of this particular piece, I want to focus on Clark County School District, located in the Las Vegas, NV area. Charter schools are absorbing disproportionate funds intended for the use of public schools, causing a decline in federal and state funding applied towards at-risk public schools within CCSD.  

As part of Clark County School District’s reevaluation, the school district categorized their underachieving schools into a sub group named Achievement School District, which is not a separate school district, but is labeled with the title anyway. Their objective, a rapid rejuvenation of performance outcomes, does not focus on the wellbeing of students’, but on the transition of public education’s transformation towards implementation of charter schools, and of its duties towards the community. Schools eligible for ASD status, according to doe.nv.gov, must remain in the ASD for no less than six years; a time allocated for principals to evoke dramatic changes in their school while satisfying continual assessments of increased performance across multiple measures conducted by ASD staff members. An ASD staff member’s primary duty is to match ASD schools with high-quality charter management organizations and to ensure a successful transition.

If a school miraculously raises performance standards across the board, then the school can remain in the ASD, convert to a charter school anyway, or return to traditional public school status; a decision left to the local principal alone. ASD requires a minimum number of traditional public schools to be transferred into the State-Sponsored Charter Schools Authority, which is given the status of a traditional public school district, a distinction the ASD is lacking. Since the worst schools are transferred out of the school district, a new set of yearly standards contrived from comparisons to the newly designated lowest achieving schools generate newly eligible schools, who were not qualified based on previously emplaced standards, for acquisitions by charter school management companies. Let us discuss the effects charter schools create with public funding and standards.

Last year, the Las Vegas Review Journal reported Nevada receiving approximately $3.8 million in funding from the federal government to apply towards underperforming schools. The Las Vegas Review Journal reported a month later that Nevada’s Department of Education allocated an estimated amount of $3.2 million to existing and potential Charter Schools. These potential charter school management companies, Celerity Schools of Nevada and Futuro Academy, will receive $854,000 and $822,000 to assist with startup costs. The potential charter schools, while absorbing a disproportionate amount of funding, applied for admittance to the ASD, which will result in a shift in priority for public fund allocation and overall standards the ASD will require of already struggling traditional public schools. On May 11, 2017, the Los Angeles Times reported California’s State Board of Education voted unanimously to close down two Celerity charter schools due to the corrupt nature of Celerity’s board members. Celerity is an education management company based out of Los Angeles, but due to the school district sanctuary created for charter schools by Nevada’s Department of Education, they became eligible for Nevada funding because legally, they are considered members of the community with a potential tie to the area.

With an understanding of the legal grey areas charter schools exploit, I wanted to discuss issues with the sociological problems inherently built into the charter school transition and ASD policies. Freedom of choice does not realistically exist for everyone because, slamnv.org reported that charter schools are not required to offer special education courses designed for mentally handicapped students, and parents of these students will be forced to enroll their student in a specific school which does offer the program. Ecs.force informs us that under Nevada law, charter schools are not required to offer transportation; which puts families without vehicles at a disadvantage because better schools may not be located in their neighborhood, and due to the wide urban setting of Las Vegas, certain schools will be impossible for them to reach.  

Using the previous information, single parents or parents with multiple jobs will be disadvantaged because they may simply not have the time to ensure their child’s arrival at school and make it to their job on time, forcing parents to make a decision to send their child to a better school further away, or potentially endanger their source of income. Decisions for charter school eligibility are not solely contrived from school performance, but also the neighborhood they are located in, which encompasses multiple variables such as income level, racial demographics, and crime levels. The policy goals of the ASD will be achieved while subjecting honest, hardworking citizens to alienation and discrimination. Children, who cannot control the circumstances of their birth, will be forced into schools that are not members of traditional public school districts; with their own policy, agenda, and expectations that differ from the school district they were originally a part of, this will intentionally create inequality among students born with the right as an American, to dignity and an equal education regardless of the status of their birth.

The takeover of public schools by charter school organizations will result in the consequences of moving schools into a separate school district run with private industry influences, and the unintentional consequences of alienating and discriminating disadvantaged segments of the population, making life harder and leaving them further behind than their fellow citizens.

Screen Shot 2017-07-29 at 9.11.27 AM

Advertisements

I Used to Want to Save the World

By Kadee Taylor

The captivating opening and closing monologue made the new Wonder Woman film instantly relatable for me. I’ve dedicated a lot of my time to nonprofit organizations that I’m passionate about. I’m pursuing a career in social policy impact. I’ve often felt that the world needs “saving”.

But, Diana learned two important lessons that altered her perception about wanting to save the world…

We Save the World One by One

It’s apparent that Diana would have done anything to fulfill her sacred duty to protect the world and mankind from snares of Ares and his detrimental influence. She’d left her home and went to the ends of the Earth. She’d even tried to follow the way of life in her new surroundings in hopes that it would be a means to a glorious end.

But what ultimately moved her to action? She encountered one person in need, one person pleading for help, one person on her path to “saving the world”. She knew that her efforts thus far would be futile if she refused to help carry the burden of this one woman and her child.

Continue reading “I Used to Want to Save the World”

Lessons from the United Nations

By Kadee Taylor

It’s All About Me

I’ve struggled to find words for what I learned by attending the United Nations. The Commission on the Status of Women can be a source of sensory overload. The need for constant discernment is mentally exhausting and left me feeling rather overwhelmed. I rarely take anything at face value as it is, so as I walked into the UN, my guard was up.

 Questions such as “What do they really mean? What are they getting at? Where is the agenda hidden in this message? Where are they getting these statistics from?” constantly assaulted my frame of reference.

The overarching message was hulking: It’s all about me. What do I want? What are my desires? What will make me happy? How have I felt oppressed? What rights do I demand? What consequences should I be exempt from? This mentality dimmed my soul and left me feeling hollow.

Continue reading “Lessons from the United Nations”

Life is Like a Box of Chocolates

By Tina Murtagh

You never know what you’re gonna get.

Needless to say, if you read the title, you know where I’m going with this: life as of late has gone in many directions for me, all unexpected–some good, some bad. Overall, the words I’m reaching for are chaotic and unprecedented. In 2015, I was ripped out of my college bubble and into the harsh light of day, also dubbed “the real world.” As I’ve attempted to gain my footing in an arena cold and unknown to me, all while hitting the ground running, I’ve learned some valuable lessons. Lessons that were painful, but nonetheless necessary.

One of the major decisions I’ve arrived at? You really won’t come to understand your true self (and I’m still trying) until the very illusion of the world that surrounds you has been completed shattered. Yes, you heard me. Until everything you’ve learned in life has fallen apart and you’re forced to pick up the pieces and build your own, new, educated perception, little pain will occur — but so will minimal growth. So, at the risk of baring my soul, allow me to tell you why Forrest Gump’s words ring so true to me.

Continue reading “Life is Like a Box of Chocolates”

How To: Be Happy in Your Late-Twenties

It’s hard to be happy. I often equate it with going to work. Somedays you wake up, and it’s easy. Simple as that. Other days, you hit snooze seven times and pray for a sudden bout of strep throat so you can have an excuse to call out sick. Those days are when you have to really remember why you’re doing this “responsible adult” thing in the first place. But you get up anyway, you put on your big-girl pants, and you go to work.

That analogy is not to say that I’m always happy. Anyone who follows me on twitter knows that’s definitely not the case, and people who are very close to me are probably reading this wondering what I’m talking about because the chances of me being “in a mood” are about 50/50 on any given day. The kind of happiness I’m talking about isn’t a constant, giddy happiness that, if we’re being honest, is kind of annoying. I’m referring to something that might better be defined as contentment. A state of happiness that runs deeper than just smiling a lot. Anyone can do that. What’s more challenging is being truly satisfied with life. Finding reasons to keep going, keep pushing, and keep smiling (a normal not creepy amount of smiling, of course).

I’d like to share with you 27 ways to be happy at 27, from my personal experiences. Some are silly, some are more serious, but all have been important to me. Keep in mind that everyone has their own path to happiness!

Continue reading “How To: Be Happy in Your Late-Twenties”

How To: Make the Most Out of Your DINK Years

DINK stands for Dual Income No Kids, and yes, it’s as amazing as it sounds.

Both of you are working full time jobs, the money is flowing in, you can buy a house, and fill it with furniture you don’t have to assemble yourself (although half of my house is still from IKEA). You can travel, you can buy concert tickets, you can go out to dinner three times a week. You can go to bed whenever you want, and wake up whenever you want. You have so much free time, which leads to so much sex, which eventually leads to…. a baby. And then the honeymoon is well and truly over.

Planned or not, the transition from DINK to having children can be a rocky one. But it’s made a little easier if you took advantage of that time pre-bundle of joy.

Recently having exited the DINK period of my marriage with the birth of our first child, I want to look back and offer some tips for how to get the most out of those years with your partner. And yes, one of the tips is having lots of sex (with protection).

Continue reading “How To: Make the Most Out of Your DINK Years”

Women Shall Inherit The Earth

“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5).

On January 21st, the Women’s March on Washington was held and it was the biggest inauguration-related/president protest in history. What was even more significant hours before it started in Washington, D.C. it was starting all around the world. The farthest reaching was probably Sydney, Australia. All around the world, in countries everywhere, women were marching to have their voices heard, all because the United States elected a man who is seen by many, including me, to be a predator of women, among many other things. That was the original idea behind the march. It morphed into something encompassing women’s rights worldwide, and included women of all statuses. At home, the new U.S. administration is a direct threat to women’s rights, rights that they’ve been fighting for for far too long. A favorite sign of mine was one that read “I can’t believe I still have to protest this sh*t”. It’s a sign that shows up at most rallies and protests when they concern women’s rights and its sentiment rings true. Why are we STILL fighting for equality? Why do so many people still dismiss it? If I had the answers, we wouldn’t still be fighting. I also know that the answers that people may have and arguments for or against the fight are far more nuanced and in the gray area

Continue reading “Women Shall Inherit The Earth”