Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Bribing The Top Students Not To Go To Charter Schools

Erin pretty much nails it when pointing out that at least in one district, as in so many others, the top students are not always a priority, and neither is an efficient use of "technology":

From the Arizona Daily Star

Nearly 900 eighth-graders have left the Sunnyside Unified School District since 2006 to attend private or charter schools - costing the district about $3 million in state funding.
And the Tucson Unified School District - the largest in the city - has lost about 8,300 students to charters over five years - some 3 percent of its enrollment. Such losses would have cost the district an estimated $36 million in state funding, although officials say some of the students have returned.

TUSD has tried for years to find ways to stop the hemorrhaging - bulking up its niche programs, studying who's leaving for where, and advertising its extracurriculars to parents and students. Last year, the district budgeted almost $420,000 for school-choice exploration. The initiative encourages schools to transform, offering a special focus or learning model that would draw in and retain students.
Now Sunnyside is thinking about how to stop the losses.

Administrators have come up with a $213,300 plan to keep eighth-graders from leaving by loaning laptops this summer to qualifying students and enrolling them in a college-prep program. Teachers will receive laptops and the district will begin an online learning program and look into providing area families free Internet service.

It's telling that the school district is looking at college prep as an afterthought and a stopgap. And it's sad that the loan of a laptop (over the summer! when it will mostly used for surfing and social networking!) is supposed to counteract the schools' failure to do their jobs during the school year. But the kids leaving the district schools aren't thinking about laptops or afterthoughts--they and their parents are looking for "smaller class sizes, innovative teaching and assurances that their children will become college graduates."
Some people have no clue.


Sandy said...

Our school district gave Mac laptops to all high school students this past school year, to take back and forth from school to home as they wished. 60% of the students are now failing at least one class.

Forest said...

It is an obvious fact that my school district focuses on low performing students. From our block schedule that has automatic interventions when students drop below a C to the money spent on our EL population compared to that spent on our programs aimed at high performing students like Honors and AP.

My purpose here is not to debate the value or priority of these programs.

It is to point out that parents of high performing students have something to contemplate when they choose where to send their children.

Would another school take more interest in helping high performers reach their potential?

allen (in Michigan) said...

I suppose if you're a district official of some sort you're probably predisposed to reject the notion of parental choice without an instant's consideration. Fortunately, where parental choice exists the prejudices of district officials are immaterial.