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Hank on the Arkley Public Records Request

Rob Arkley.

Hybrid media blogger Hank Sims analyzes Rob Arkley’s Public Records Request seeking dirt on his enemies list, including the Humboldt Herald.

[T]he [Arkley] request is aimed at uncovering who in county government did the dastardly deed of distributing a public document. On March 31, Sacramento lobbyist Kay Backer – the public face and possibly the sole surviving member of Humboldt Economic & Land Plan (HELP), a conservative “group” – wrote county supervisors and top staff with the au courant plea to slow down the general plan update process, which is over a decade old. (Ostensibly, the rationale for this is to allow for more citizen input; actually, it is to delay things until after the next election.) Backer’s letter, full of Tea Partyesque hyperbole and poor grammar, was gleefully published on the Humboldt Herald April 4.

Hank also offers unsolicited advice on how Arkley can cast a wider net.  Thanks, dude !

Gulp.

  1. Anonymous
    April 13, 2011 at 7:15 pm

    Yikes!

  2. anonymous
    April 13, 2011 at 7:18 pm

    Perhaps county government could create a committee to study this request with the intent of proceeding more slowly.

  3. Duh
    April 13, 2011 at 7:53 pm

    “Tea Partyesque hyperbole and poor grammar”?
    Redundant.

  4. Goldie
    April 13, 2011 at 8:10 pm

    Hank’s last paragraph was my favorite:It’s only too bad that we’ll never get this settled in time for the request that will deal with all of Arkley’s correspondence with local government concerning the general plan update, and that of his employees and allies. If by some miracle that request hasn’t been filed yet, it will be soon.

  5. Decline To State
    April 13, 2011 at 8:34 pm

    Hanks editorial was unexpected, insightful and spot-on (and he tricked me into thinking it was about something that it was not). It was thoughtful, much appreciated and by far and away his best work yet. I’m thinking his separating from the North Coast Journal, whether he was forced our or not, was the best possible career move he could have made. Well done sir!

  6. Plain Jane
    April 13, 2011 at 9:15 pm

    Imagine a PRA request for the private e-mails between politicos and Arkley / HumCPR / HELP / Security National, etc, etc. How would they know if a politician didn’t disclose all their e-mail accounts or falsely denied there were any that were relevant? Why isn’t it illegal for them to even use private e-mail for public business?

  7. April 13, 2011 at 9:20 pm

    Keep in mind that Virginia Bass doesn’t need to rely on email to communicate with HELP/HumCPR/Arkley. Her husband has a direct line. Same as it ever was.

  8. April 13, 2011 at 9:36 pm

    Hank :)

  9. Plain Jane
    April 13, 2011 at 9:44 pm

    So, hypothetically, if Lovelace sent the Backer letter to Heraldo’s e-mail using his county e-mail, so what? Is it a crime or just a political weapon to spin until election time?

  10. Plain Jane
    April 13, 2011 at 9:46 pm

    Makes you almost nostalgic for snail mail, doesn’t it?

  11. April 13, 2011 at 9:51 pm

    if Lovelace sent the Backer letter to Heraldo’s e-mail using his county e-mail, so what? Is it a crime or just a political weapon to spin until election time?

    Arkley would pee his pants with excitement if he uncovered such a thing. But it wouldn’t be a crime. As Hank points out, Arkley/Backer letters to the BOS are public documents.

  12. Random Guy
    April 13, 2011 at 10:01 pm

    Must be some big conspiracy. Much ado about nothing. Maybe he got death threats on april fool’s day. Didn’t HSU just get a bomb threat? Cyber terrorism…OoooOOOOooOoooohhh….

  13. wurking stiff
    April 13, 2011 at 10:01 pm

    Arkley, while clearly a raging fruit loop at certain levels, nevertheless wields a certain amount of power rooted in his wealth and, in his lack of any restraint or sense of decency he is dangerous.

    Nothing like a self-made gazillionaire (not counting the million dollars he got from his pops to buy his first bank).

  14. Plain Jane
    April 13, 2011 at 10:34 pm

    Let the PRA Wars begin.

  15. Reinventing The Wheel
    April 14, 2011 at 12:18 am

    It will be a great day when our finest local reporters extricate themselves from parroting the development community’s self-delusion of being “conservatives”.

    Continuing to advocate for an unsustainable development model of big boxes and sprawl, (as if the public’s infrastructure, economy, and politics, were their personal entitlements to dominate), is nothing short of radical, not conservative!

    Considering the weight of economic and political research, and a world rich in development alternatives, fighting to maintain this narrow agenda is greed-driven lunacy.

    Get it right!

  16. Hank Sims
    April 14, 2011 at 5:47 am

    I hear you. This should fit the bill.

    There are two broad currents in Humboldt County political life. They go by names opposite to those that classical political theorists would give them. Broadly speaking, Humboldt County left-liberals are dedicated to the proposition that nothing should ever change — no new development, no new people, new industry only with extreme restrictions. Any of these things will likely have some sort of measurable environmental impact, however tiny, and therefore can and should be opposed to the death. Meanwhile, the “conservatives” seek to tear up the entire rule book, freeing them up to construct suburban and/or industrial hellscapes anywhere they choose in the name of Mammon.

    But at some point you gotta accept that the meanings of words change over time.

  17. Richard Salzman
    April 14, 2011 at 7:24 am

    Yes that certainly fits the bill of hyperbole, since we liberals have mostly advocated FOR development in the form of “smart growth”, a term one half of which is, …growth.

  18. Plain Jane
    April 14, 2011 at 7:30 am

    “freeing them up to construct suburban and/or industrial hellscapes anywhere they choose in the name of Mammon.”

    Anywhere but Forest-Gill.

  19. "HENCHMAN OF JUSTICE"
    April 14, 2011 at 7:49 am

    “Smart-Growth”

    Response – Ummm, what does the State of California define Smart Growth as? Oh, that is right, there would need to be a legal or political definition recognized by the state for GP/Housing Element purposes. On the flip side argument, groupees come up with many definitions too, just ones the state has not conjured up yet.

    Jeffrey Lytle
    McKinleyville – 5th District

  20. Mitch
    April 14, 2011 at 8:00 am

    Hank’s self-quote at 5:47 suggests that Humboldt’s “left-liberals” think nothing should ever change.

    Some things I’d like to see change…

    – The tax system, to ensure that all can live healthy lives if they wish, at the expense of the wealthiest.

    – The road system’s funding priorities, to enable development less based on cars and gasoline.

    – The zoning and business laws, to enable diversity as opposed to monoculture to the extent legally possible. By this I mean I’d like national stores and franchises to be put at a competitive disadvantage to the extent they extract money from the local economy. I’d also like small enterprises and individuals to be cut a good deal of legal slack as long as they don’t clearly harm others. Want to build something to live in that’s not “to code?” Fine; just sign this document saying you’re over 21.

    – The education system, to convert worker-training schools into citizen-enrichment schools.

    I could go on, and Hank and others are free to voice their opinions regarding my sanity or the likelihood that the changes I’d like to see will actually take place.

    But to suggest that left-liberals feel nothing should ever change? Come on. We want everything to change. Part of that is wanting the environment to be preserved. As in conservation, not conservatism. Not that there’s anything wrong with conservatism, which is probably dead in United States politics, replaced with a greedy fuck-you libertarianism and worship of wealth.

    What Hank saw is that left-liberals don’t want change in the wrong direction. We desperately want and need change in the right direction, even if that up-ends his simplistic frame.

  21. High Finance
    April 14, 2011 at 8:11 am

    Arkley making this request makes him look as silly and paranoid as Heraldo and most of the posters at the Herald.

    And that ain’t good !

  22. "HENCHMAN OF JUSTICE"
    April 14, 2011 at 8:14 am

    Mitch – I changed your sentence to this as it would be better for everyone

    Change: – The tax system, to ensure that all can live healthy lives if they wish, at the expense of the consumer on non-basic needs/purchases.

    JL

  23. Mitch
    April 14, 2011 at 8:25 am

    Henchman,

    Exactly.

  24. Whizzer
    April 14, 2011 at 8:28 am

    OMG, If successful, this public records request could prove conclusively that some people, including public officials, actually disagree with Mr. Arkley’s agenda.

  25. Ross Rowley
    April 14, 2011 at 8:36 am

    “- The education system, to convert worker-training schools into citizen-enrichment schools.”

    Hey Mitch, can you explain that ideal a bit broader so I may grasp your concept? I’m not being snarky, really, I’m curious about this idea.

  26. Anonymous
    April 14, 2011 at 8:42 am

    I agree the right to do a PRA is a good thing. I disagree that williy nilly PRA requests are a good thing. As a tax payer I am offended that I am subsidizing a rich man’s witch hunt.

  27. Mitch
    April 14, 2011 at 8:55 am

    Ross,

    The government seems concerned with whether or not we are training workers with the skills needed for “tomorrow’s workforce.”

    To me, that mainly means two things: a minimum ability to communicate clearly in uncreative language, and an ability to do calculation to the extent one can tell when the number on the computer screen looks fishy. At its worst, it means making sure students can run Microsoft products on computers from a few years ago.

    We’ve been watching a transition for at least the last fifty years to a world where human brainpower will be nearly as irrelevant to ongoing production as human muscle-power has already become. (I think it’s been largely hidden by the creation of layer after layer of “managers,” and the creation of layer after layer of pointless paperwork.)

    The brainpower will still come into play in the design of the machines, but you don’t need a workforce anything like billions of people to design the machines. There are already computer programs that design circuits, for example, and it’s only a matter of time before the machines are designing their next generations.

    The need is going to be for an educated population, not a trained workforce. Our society is so completely immersed in capitalism that it is incapable of seeing this. We should be focusing educational efforts on arts, philosophy, logic, civics, history, the principles of scientific investigation.

    There will always be a set of students who find math fascinating, and they should be encouraged in their abilities. Math is a sophisticated form of creativity; algebra, for example, is not. To torture every high school student into learning algebra shows a terrible lack of understanding of what our society requires from people, even today. It also risks taking some of the most creative math students and killing their interest.

    Supposedly, one reason our military has been successful in the past is our individualism — America’s natural instinct to allow individual soldiers to figure out what’s needed HERE and NOW, without too much rigid regard for going up chain of command. We need that individual creativity in our economy as well; even more important, we need that individual creativity in our society as a whole.

  28. "HENCHMAN OF JUSTICE"
    April 14, 2011 at 8:56 am

    ARE PRA’s paid with 100% tax dollars? Or, does the seeker of that information pay? Departments have a policy for copying fees? So, is the request limited for the counter viewing; and, copying fees are later, if ever? It really is about the process applied at that particular moment.

    A saying……. Policies written in stone are merely dormant words on paper; whereas, action at the counter or action on the job is policy in execution.

    So yes, $$$$$$ is a good question to ask about the time and energy for staff to run around gathering up information for something they (staff) did not do wrong; YET AGAIN, if staff or elected official did something wrong, then the cost for such PRA is a non-argument. It is just an “until a later date” scenario, we won’t really know yet, exactly.

    By law, citizens, all citizens have the right to a PRA type action. The matter of PRA funding requests is a good matter to discuss, just as the reason for why PRA’s are being necessary to begin with (Govt. makes bad sometimes). If the request is for a Govt. wrong, rather than just to spite to drain energy from another(s), then that again is “a” basis for understanding that the request “may be” or “is” valid.

    JL

  29. Mitch
    April 14, 2011 at 9:01 am

    I think I can try to be more concise.

    Instead of training people so they will be able to make clever advertisements for useless things, our educational system should be educating people to be sufficiently self-aware that they ask themselves why they would want to make clever advertisements for useless things, when they could be creating something which gives them or others satisfaction.

  30. Learner
    April 14, 2011 at 9:08 am

    Mitch, what you are talking about used to be called a “Liberal Arts” degree.

  31. Mitch
    April 14, 2011 at 9:09 am

    I know.

    That’s even more concise.

    I never got one, but I can tell you shitloads about things that don’t matter.

  32. Mitch
    April 14, 2011 at 9:18 am

    Here’s maybe my final take on what an educated citizenry would look like: it would be the opposite of HiFi.

  33. Stay in school
    April 14, 2011 at 9:29 am

    Mitch says “To torture every high school student into learning algebra shows a terrible lack of understanding of what our society requires from people, even today. It also risks taking some of the most creative math students and killing their interest.”

    Algebra is necessary to do calculus, the most useful and enjoyable of the “maths”. Basic algebra is very useful for many endeavors.

    Unfortunately, we poo poo math and science in our society. People who excel in those areas are geeks and considered weird.

    Meanwhile, students in India and China (and many other up and coming nations) are out competing us, partly because their educational systems take these subjects seriously.

  34. Stay in school
    April 14, 2011 at 9:40 am

    BTW, Mitch, I agree completely with your response to Hank’s assertion that lefties want “no new development, no new people, new industry only with extreme restrictions.”

    Hank would have trouble finding support for that statement, which exemplifies why I am very skeptical of the Sims Sieve for reality. What trickles through that sieve is not truth.

  35. Mitch
    April 14, 2011 at 9:40 am

    Stay in school,

    You are correct. Algebra is necessary for calculus. Students who think there’s a chance they’d like to enter engineering, science, or medicine must learn algebra so they can learn calculus.

    What percentage of the workforce is going to use calculus?

    What percentage of those who now use calculus will be able to have a computer do their calculations?

    For students who have no interest in any of the above professions, do you believe the time spent learning algebra is time well spent, or might it be put to better use?

  36. Mitch
    April 14, 2011 at 9:46 am

    Also, just to be clear, the last thing I want to do is poo-poo math and science. I love both. But I seriously wonder whether the way they are taught as mandatory subjects in high school is appropriate.

    I haven’t taken a high school class in more than 30 years, so perhaps things have changed. I enjoyed every math and science course I took. But I also saw many students forced into taking subjects which would have no relevance to their lives, because those are the subjects that were deemed vital for high school graduates.

    Why does every high school student need algebra? In case they change their mind and decide to become an engineer? Wouldn’t it be possible to teach them algebra at the time they change their mind — when they might actually be motivated to learn it?

  37. Stay in school
    April 14, 2011 at 9:56 am

    Granted, a person who wants to be a journalist, or an attorney, or social worker does not need the same level of math and science education. I don’t know if Algebra is a required course for all high school students. It was not, the last time I was involved with schools.

    I think our country’s attitude toward math and science, which places these areas of knowledge in a rarefied atmosphere, is part of the reason people feel they can disregard science. People have almost no understanding of the scientific process. They don’t understand what a scientific theory is, or how science works. So when confronted with know-nothings who say evolution is a hoax, and climate change is not occurring, they believe it.

    Before earning a teaching credential in California, you must pass the CBEST test. The math part does not go beyond sixth grade level. Did you know that about 80% of the prospective teachers fail the math portion of that test? Most have to retake it several times before passing. Very sad. Very bad for our culture.

  38. Anonymous
    April 14, 2011 at 10:00 am

    Kids need to learn how to manage their finances, balance a checkbook, keep track of their funds and organize them so they can pay their rent, save some, and not get in credit trouble. That math needs to be taught to everyone. Algebra in some form is helpful, but basic math skills are what people need to survive, to measure, to cook, to be able to function in our world.

  39. Teacher
    April 14, 2011 at 10:07 am

    Mitch, if you want a well-educated, well-rounded citizenry, you have to make choices about what needs to be taught. Algebra teaches problem solving and is a crucial component to a math education. What if some people deem your liberal arts education useless? Should they be allowed to focus solely on math and science? Mechanics? I don’t think you are necessarily wrong, however, if this is what you think, then you should support charter and vocational schools which would put you in-line with the conservative platform on education.
    Stay-in-school, the CBEST is a pathetically easy test. Teachers who will be teach math have to pass the CSET which is a series of tests that, if you teach lower grades, covers all subjects, and if you teach high school, covers only your subject. The math that teachers must pass to teach high school math is extremely advanced. The math that teachers must pass to teach lower grades covers upper level algebra. Neither CSET test is easy and should not be compared to the CBEST.

  40. Mitch
    April 14, 2011 at 10:12 am

    Stay in school,

    I’m from the east coast. If I recall correctly, two years of algebra was mandatory.

    Anonymous,

    Agreed. Estimation skills are critical as well, as is the ability to tell when one thing is a tiny fraction of another.

    I wonder how many people realize what fraction of the U.S. budget is involved in a million dollar expenditure as opposed to one of a billion or trillion. To have every voter know that one simple fact would eliminate a whole genre of political posturing.

    I’d rather our electorate learned stuff like that than how to solve x+5=6.

  41. Mitch
    April 14, 2011 at 10:19 am

    Teacher,

    Thank you for seriously engaging.

    Algebra teaches problem solving. OK. Is it the best approach to teaching the problem solving skills you have in mind, or is it merely the approach that happens to have attained lock-in.

    I don’t believe in one size fits all, and I don’t particularly care which ill-fitting political label others wish to assign to that thought.

    Children are children and need some guidance in what they are to study. But education should not be squeezed into an assembly-line model, in which everyone tries to learns algebra in the ninth grade because that’s the way it’s always been.

    I’m not opposed to vocational training at all. But I think the opportunity for a true liberal education should be available to all, at no charge, and whenever a person is ready. I think our society has enough resources that if we wanted that, we could have it.

  42. Teacher
    April 14, 2011 at 10:53 am

    I think that I value math and science skills more than you do, Mitch. However, I agree with everything else. Especially the fact that children learn differently and math and science are not for everyone the same as a liberal education is not for everyone. I think this brings up an interesting topic that I menitoned previously, charter schools. The teacher unions hate the idea because the charter schools have continually out-preformed the traditional public schools. Obama supports them because they have proven to be highly effective especially in inner-city environments where traditional public schools have been failing for decades.

  43. Plain Jane
    April 14, 2011 at 11:05 am

    Comparing schools which can pick and choose their students to those which have to take everyone, including those who would be better served by special education and whose presence in the public school classroom interferes with other student’s ability to learn, is oranges to lemons. When the choice students are siphoned from public schools (along with money), public schools need increased funding, not less, to compensate for the increased percentage of troubled and learning disabled kids.

  44. Mitch
    April 14, 2011 at 11:08 am

    Teacher,

    Here’s where math, science, and logic skills are valuable, Teacher.

    You say charter schools out-preform public schools.

    First, let me confess ignorance on the subject.

    Then, let me point out that correlation is not causation, and ask the following:

    1) from whatever study you may have in mind, how were the researchers able to determine the impact of differing parental approaches in the children diverted to charter schools, so that whatever results they obtained actually reflected the different schools’ impact and not just skewed populations;

    2) how were the studies controlled for socio-economic status;

    3) why would lower-paid teachers, in general, provide more effective teaching than higher paid teachers?

    If you can explain 3, could you let me know whether you think this idea of decreasing the pay to other professionals would improve their performance? For example, do you believe that halving the pay of doctors would lead to better medical outcomes for patients?

    Let me offer another possibility about why teachers unions oppose charter schools. Perhaps teachers unions care about the quality of the educational system. Perhaps they don’t believe that a for-profit approach in which schools are allowed to compete by, for example, promising little homework, or, for example, buying parents a computer, is best for the education of children.

    As I said, I don’t know.

  45. Mitch
    April 14, 2011 at 11:21 am

    I agree with Jane’s points as well.

  46. Ross Rowley
    April 14, 2011 at 11:23 am

    “Instead of training people so they will be able to make clever advertisements for useless things…”

    Of course, you know I laughed out loud about this…After all, that is what I do for a living. HA!

    What do you consider useless things? Would making a commercial to promote a Rally Protesting Tax Dodgers be considered a useless thing or would making an advertisement to win a brand new car at the local casino be useless. Both are local ideas that honor giving back to the community. Only one of those puts food on my table.

    Did I learn in school how to make advertisements? Nope, learned it on the job. The job of my choosing, not the choice of any educational institution. But, schools taught me (or introduced me, at least)how to use modern tools to use my creative mind to produce such advertisements that sway people into believing whether or not an item or idea is useless. Who makes that call? Whether the idea is to rally the community to stand in front of a Eureka bank to protest corporate tax dodgers or guiding the community to enjoy the thousands year-old (and multi-cultural)joy of gambling via gaming.

    Advertisements, themselves, are a pretty democratic tool. Anyone can advertise an idea or product
    at any time and almost anywhere. How much money you place behind it, where you place it, and how often you place it is really the issue.

  47. Stay in school
    April 14, 2011 at 11:24 am

    Teacher, I was referring to the CBEST test. Yes, the math portion is very basic. Probably less than 10% of the questions are about algebra or trigonometry, and those questions are very simple. Yet the majority of people fail this portion.

    The same is true of the CSET test. Only about 20% pass the math test first time around. This test is for people who want to be math teachers. You would think such people would have some aptitude in math and would be better prepared to take the test. Not the case.

    I blame the attitude of our society toward math, and the schools for adopting that attitude. Sports are considered more worthy in most schools. Try cutting budgets in each department and see what kind of objections come from the community. Save our sports programs! Math? Who cares?

  48. Teacher
    April 14, 2011 at 11:28 am

    Mitch, most of what you said was completely off base. For instance, I worked at a charter school and was paid about 15% more than public school teachers with the same amount of experience in the same district. The charter school was able to manipulate their money so that they could pay teachers more. Thus, you had the opposite effect of what you suggested.
    As for the difference in parenting strategies and all of that, of course that plays a factor. However, if you look nation-wide, and once again at inner-city schools where the system has long been broken, the charter schools are making massive gains (check out K.I.P. schools- Knowledge Is Power- my school was a KIP school). We’re talking about charter schools adapting their teaching methods to better serve minority and impoverished groups.
    PJ, your point is well-made and that is a major sticking point. However, the problems the public schools will face does not negate the fact that many have been failing and are now being out-worked by charter schools. Charter schools are regular public schools and receive their funding based on ADA. Thus, they want as many students as possible. The only students who are not accounted for are the severely handicapped and that is because the charter schools do not receive the funding to accomodate severely handicapped. That does leave the public schools as a dumping ground and is a problem that needs to be addressed. Even president Obama, the leader of the democratic party, is out-spoken supporter of charter schools. He bases his views off of what he saw in inner-city Chicago.

  49. Teacher
    April 14, 2011 at 11:30 am

    Stay in school, I have taken those tests and find those numbers shocking. Where did you find those statistics?

  50. Mitch
    April 14, 2011 at 11:30 am

    Ross,

    “What do you consider useless things? ”

    What I consider useless things is not the relevant question. The relevant question is what you consider useless things.

    I’m sure many people in advertising promote things they believe in their hearts to be useless. Part of my idea of the goal of education is to prevent such sad waste of life.

    Our economic system celebrates such sad waste of life, because it adds to productivity. It celebrates disease, as long as the disease leads to economic transactions for expensive pharmaceuticals, and celebrates destruction in general, as long as the destruction (of forests, or gulfs, or prefectures) shows up as economic activity.

    The educational system I would like to see would be one that makes people aware of such odd aspects of life today.

    (BTW, I didn’t know you were in advertising. It’s just the line of business I consider the biggest waste of people.)

  51. Ross Rowley
    April 14, 2011 at 11:34 am

    To be a bit more concise, Mitch, focusing our educational efforts on arts, philosophy, logic, civics, history and the principles of scientific investigation are dandy. And those studies are used every day across this great land. But, like my mother said when I pursued an education in music, “be sure you have a skill you can fall back on” Coming from the Depression-era/World War II generation, she was indoctrinated to believe that having a labor-based skill that was useful in the building of America to be a great power was to be striven for. Hmmmm, sounds like China. All in all, look at us wasting our productive time working for “the man” to have this public discourse. Oh, the irony! But, “the man” provided me with this tool to hold this discussion with you. Too bad, “the man” is ultimately, you and me. (and PJ, too)

  52. tra
    April 14, 2011 at 11:37 am

    I hated math in high school, and stopped taking it as soon as I completed the requirements (Algebra, Algebra II, and Geometry). I figured that in “real life” I would never need the more advanced math courses and I even kind of thought Algebra and Algebra II were probably a “waste of time” (I no linger think so…see below).

    I didn’t go to college immediately after high school, so when I did go to college quite a few years had passed since high school, and sure enough I had never needed calculus or trigonometry, or even much algebra in those intervening years.

    But when I did start college I found that I needed to take a remedial algebra course as a refresher before I could even handle the quantitative courses required for my (not-hard-science) degree. But several of those required quantitative course were Statistics course, one general and one oriented to my major. At that point the need to actually be proficient in the statistics work showed me the importance of those previous math courses, especially basic algebra.

    In the end, those statistics courses have proved extremely useful, even indispensable, to understanding studies and reports that have been important in both my professional pursuits and also in being able to think critically about statistic-based claims made in the course of public policy debates.

    Bottom line: I do think Algebra should continue to be a required course of study. The main thing I would change would be to follow that up with a requirement for at least one basic course in Statistics for all high school students. Unlike Calculus and Trigonometry, we are all surrounded by statistics-based claims practically every day, in the form of marketing claims, health studies, political arguments, and so on.

  53. Mitch
    April 14, 2011 at 11:39 am

    Teacher,

    It sounds like you were at a good charter school.

    I don’t doubt that there are many good charter schools.

    I’d be curious what the AVERAGE rate of teacher pay is at charter schools, as compared with public schools.

    And I’d be curious about your opinion as to what educational benefit is produced by having a school run on a for-profit basis. Could the changes you applaud at the schools you are familiar with be implemented in public schools? If so, what’s stopping them? If not, why not? Would the changes which had a positive impact for your students have a negative impact for others?

    And then there are other issues as well. What is the impact of tenure on teaching quality? What happens to twenty-year teachers who are fired from charter schools when the management changes? What happens when the parents decide they don’t want evolution taught at the charter school, but a teacher feels it is their obligation to teach science rather than religion? And so on.

  54. Ross Rowley
    April 14, 2011 at 11:43 am

    (BTW, I didn’t know you were in advertising. It’s just the line of business I consider the biggest waste of people.)

    Mitch, I know you didn’t know I worked in advertising, I didn’t take it personally. And, I am laughing out loud on being considered a wasted person……laughing, that is, all the way to the bank. Ah, capitalism, sweet, sweet capitalism.

  55. Teacher
    April 14, 2011 at 11:52 am

    I was at a good charter school. We vastly out-performed the public schools around us with the same demographics. Our school was founded by an African American man raised in inner-city L.A. He said that in his experience the inner city public schools didn’t try to prepare African Americans for success. He started his school and shaped it to prepare African American and other minorities for success in school and in life. Because it was a charter school, he was able to tailor the education as he saw appropriate and do a lot of things that I’ve never seen at public schools. I went to charter schools in the Oakland and SF that were doing similar things and having similar results.
    The idea is competition. The public schools have never had competition and I don’t think they like it. You bring up good questions but don’t dismiss what it means to offer people normally marginalized a chance at a good education. If that means teachers jobs become less secure, maybe that’s the price I have to pay.
    Finally, why do you keep calling charter schools “for profit”?

  56. Mitch
    April 14, 2011 at 11:57 am

    tra,

    I agree that basic statistics is vital. If there were a way of motivating algebra by combining it with statistics, I’d be all for that.

    There’s a difference, though, between what’s needed to determine statistical significance using tools available today (or tomorrow) and knowing how to do the calculations. The important part is knowing how to prevent yourself from fooling yourself as to what you’ve learned, not knowing the mechanics of the operation.

    I wonder whether you might have picked up the algebra you needed, even if you hadn’t had it pushed on you in high school. I don’t think it needs to take nearly as long as it takes, but an accelerated course would require motivated students. I simply don’t know, but I wish questions like these were being asked widely. Perhaps they are.

    Ross,

    Yes, no doubt we’re all “the man,” even PJ.

    But I’d rather live in a society that tried harder to enable you to make a living through music than one which encourages you to make a living by pitching things you consider useless. (If you chose to make a living by pitching things you considered valuable, great!)

    There is mind-boggling wealth to go around, but a startling amount of our energy is devoted to redistributing it to the greediest. Other societies, where socialism is not considered an automatic evil, manage to support far higher minimum standards of living without completely preventing people from enjoying the fruits of their labor.

    I’d be all for capitalism if gains didn’t pass from generation to generation. The justification of capitalism is the very real “invisible hand” of resource allocation. But it allocates resources to dollars, not people. When some people start with hundreds of times the dollars as others, capitalism’s invisible hand no longer works as an ethical resource allocation mechanism, and it becomes very incompatible with democracy.

  57. Mitch
    April 14, 2011 at 12:00 pm

    Interesting morning, but capitalism calls. In fact, it shouts, and has been shouting for the last hour or two.

    Thank you to all for the conversation.

  58. Mitch
    April 14, 2011 at 12:07 pm

    Oh, and Ross. Just to be clear, I consider it a waste to the extent that a person needs to work in order to live and that person’s work life is devoted to something in which they don’t believe.

    I would never mean to imply that anyone’s life is wasted, but I do think that work done against one’s own beliefs as to what is right is work wasted.

  59. Plain Jane
    April 14, 2011 at 12:13 pm

    That is another factor, Teacher. Charter schools can specialize in specific areas while public schools, on the whole, can’t. When you actually look at the best schools, in California, at least, they all have a low rate of students in poverty (% who who qualify for free lunch) and the only charter schools that make the grade have a much lower student to teacher ratio than any regular public school. The topped ranked charter school in California, third from the top, Pacific Collegiate Charter School in Santa Cruz, has a 0% poverty rate and 15:1 student to teacher ratio. The top of the list for all schools in California is Gretchen Whitney High in Cerritos with a student to teacher ratio of 23:1 and 11% poverty. #2, Oxford Academy in Anaheim has a 24:1 ratio, 19% poverty. Lowell in SF (#5), with the largest student population of any of the top schools, is 18:1 with a poverty rate of 32%.

  60. Teacher
    April 14, 2011 at 12:24 pm

    Comparing charter schools with different demographics is not a useful comparison. A useful comparison would be to compare a public school and a charter school from the same area with similar demographics.

  61. Plain Jane
    April 14, 2011 at 12:26 pm

    What these admittedly limited statistics suggest is that smaller class sizes, especially in poverty stricken areas, can result in better schools. The fact that schools in wealthier districts receive more in parent donations of time and money also can’t be ignored.

  62. Stay in school
    April 14, 2011 at 12:28 pm

    Teacher, the quick search I just did turned up no statistics for the failure rate on the math part of the CBEST. My statement was based on what I was told by someone in the Teacher Education program at HSU at the time I took that test. I remember she said the majority failed the math part first time around. I also remember how apprehensive some of the Teacher-Ed students were about passing it, and was surprised at how many told me the had failed it.

    My cursory search turned up this article about the discrepancy in failure rates among whites and minorities. See the quote below. Seems they have made the test even easier since I took it.

    From http://www.dailyrepublican.com/cbest_test.html

    “In 1993, Judge Orrick ruled that the CBEST was not a state licensing examination but rather an employment test subject to federal laws requiring it to be related to performance on the job. As a result of that decision, the state revised the math portion, removing the more difficult geometry and algebra questions and leaving only items that required basic computation and problem-solving skills. The state also extended the time allotted for completing the test. ”

    Regarding the CSET test, this site does not give official results, but refers to an 80% failure rate on math test:
    http://forums.atozteacherstuff.com/showthread.php?t=31167

  63. tra
    April 14, 2011 at 12:29 pm

    Of course if even introductory Statistics was taught to all high school students, casinos and other gambling venues would lose a lot of the suckers they depend on to continue the rapid growth of their highly-profitable, but utterly unproductive (except as incredibly expensive “entertainment”) gambling “industry.” I could live with that.

  64. Ross Rowley
    April 14, 2011 at 12:35 pm

    Oh, but Mitch, I really do believe this kind of work doesn’t go against my beliefs. Otherwise, I would have been wasting away at working for the past 30 years. And, yes, I do have to “work” to make a living. That’s my choice, of course. But, I believe my “job” is pretty cool. Interestingly, I do think other lines of “work” some people do are a complete and utter waste. But, that’s what makes the world go round. And, I’ll gladly take their money to advertise their line of “work”, their product or cause. Remember, advertising is the world’s second oldest profession.

  65. Plain Jane
    April 14, 2011 at 12:36 pm

    Lowell is a public high school in SF, which has many charter schools, none of which equal Lowell in quality of education or test scores, so that sort of shoots down your demographics point, Teacher.

  66. Ishmael
    April 14, 2011 at 12:40 pm

    Ross Rowley says:
    April 14, 2011 at 11:23 am
    “What do you consider useless things?”

    Almost everthing we buy, including much of our food. When I am in K*Mart (a rare occasion), all I see is soon-to-be-landfill. Real soon. The mall, Costco, Wal*Mart; its all soon-to-be-landfill but that’s living in a disposable era. And the processed food they sell in markets, how ’bout that cancer rate? Then there’s the cars we drive which are killing our own habitat. If it kills your habitat, is it useful? If its unhealthy food, is it useful? Buy, buy, buy and run up your debt; an international, consumer-based economy depends on you.

  67. Stay in school
    April 14, 2011 at 12:40 pm

    tra, I agree about teaching statistics in high school. They should have a class that specifically makes the links between mathematical logic and critical thinking skills, as applied to every day life. Statistics can be a very interesting subject which could be made very lively and relevant to kid’s lives, while teaching them to evaluate the massive amount of information that bombards us these days.

    Likewise with science. Even students with no interest in pursuing a science or engineering career would benefit by understanding basic science principles. The number of people in this country who do not “believe in” the process of evolution is very alarming.

    We can’t compete in today’s global economy partly because our country has lower educational standards.

  68. Teacher
    April 14, 2011 at 12:45 pm

    I agree PJ but those are things we already knew. I’m not sure how they relate to the issue of public vs charter schools.
    I’m not sure what you are trying to say when you say that charter schools can specialize in things that public schools can’t. I agree and that’s my point on why charter schools can be effective and should be supported. Are we arguing on the same side for once?

  69. Mitch
    April 14, 2011 at 12:50 pm

    “And, I’ll gladly take their money to advertise their line of “work”, their product or cause. ”

    That’s fine. If you believe in what you are doing, it’s none of my business to suggest otherwise.

    I doubt the tobacco advertising “creatives” believe in what they are doing, except in the sense that they believe it will get them well-compensated. (Ha. There’s a telling word: compensation.)

  70. Teacher
    April 14, 2011 at 12:50 pm

    PJ, you are making horrible arguments. Lowell is a good school… so what? I think there are lots of good public schools and lots of bad ones. I think it’s okay for them to compete with charter school. That’s what I was talking to Mitch about. What are you trying to say with random posting of poverty rates and high performing schools in relation to public vs private schools?

  71. Plain Jane
    April 14, 2011 at 12:53 pm

    Where we differ is that I believe charter schools are looting public schools for funds and the best students, leaving those most expensive to educate behind. You claim that charter schools do a better job at education; but, in fact, they only do so by skewing their demographic to the best students and then further that advantage with smaller class sizes.

  72. Plain Jane
    April 14, 2011 at 12:55 pm

    And here I thought when you said PJ you were referring to me, Teacher. Who knew?? Mitch is debating with Ross about advertising, not education.

  73. Plain Jane
    April 14, 2011 at 1:03 pm

    It’s appalling that a “teacher” can’t grasp the effect of poverty on student achievement. Wealthy communities not only have a much higher rate of parental involvement and private donations, parents in those districts also tend to have a higher level of education and are able to not only help their kids more with school work, they are also able to provide more travel and cultural experiences which augment education.

  74. Teacher
    April 14, 2011 at 1:03 pm

    PJ, why do those students leave the public schools? Is it more important the public schools keep the students and thus the money (teachers then get cushy tenure, retirement, etc) or that students gain access to good education? That’s where we differ. My number one priority is the students. Yours appears to be the union and their lobbying and political power.

  75. Plain Jane
    April 14, 2011 at 1:05 pm

    Shame on you for grasping the straws and not debating the facts, Teacher.

  76. Teacher
    April 14, 2011 at 1:27 pm

    Are you serious? You provide facts that are unrelated to what we are talking about. You either don’t grasp the argument or don’t want to talk about the crux of the argument, competition. Charter schools are competition for public schools. The best students elect to go to the charter schools because the schools offer a better chance to learn. That should be our main concern. Ask parents why they send their kids to Jacoby Creek and Freshwater instead of Zane and Sunnybrae?
    You are defending poor performing schools at the students’ expense. That’s not grasping for straws that’s the point of the argument.
    PJ, I’m tired of your circular reasoning followed by you deriding me and shaming me. Your arguments are lame and not well-thought out. Cutting and pasting someone else’s thoughts isn’t impressive and/or fun for me to read. You are not good at arguing your point of view. You are simply insanely rigid in your views. I feel like I’m talking to a 90 year old former union worker who fought the liberal battles long ago and thinks this is still FDR’s party.
    Last question and I’ll read but promise not to respond to, if charter schools are what you say they are, why would the President of the US risk the ire of the teachers’ union and come out in support of charter schools?

  77. tra
    April 14, 2011 at 1:31 pm

    Stay in School,

    I agree with you about science courses as well as math (including statistics) courses being very important in teaching students how to think for themsleves, in a logical way, and therefore gain a better understanding of what is actually going on in the world around them (and the world beyond their own experience).

    I would be willing to bet that if you did a study that compared the hard-core climate change deniers among the general public with those who acknowledge that the preponderance of the evidence points to human-caused greenhouse gas emissions as a significant factor in climate change, you would find that members of the former group are far less likely to have taken at least one statistics course (and as a result, just to take one example, they have trouble distinguishing between blatant cherry-picking of data and a fair statistical analysis of that data), and probably have taken fewer science courses in general.

    I think you would even find that if you controlled for overall level of educational attainment, for example comparing high school students to high school students and 4-year-college students too 4-year-college students, and so on.

    So “innumeracy” can have negative effects that can be just as serious as the effects of “illiteracy,” when it comes to trying to have a public that is well-informed enough, and armed with the necessary critical-thinking skills, to successfully operate a democracy in the face of all of our modern-day challenges.

  78. Plain Jane
    April 14, 2011 at 1:37 pm

    Since I didn’t say a single word about unions, teacher pay, or why parents move their kids, you are the one making an illogical argument, Teacher.

    Most people want the best education for their kids, but only some have the ability to do much about it. They would be people who can afford private tuition or those whose kids qualify for scholarships or good charter schools which often require a parent available to drive and pick them up, out of reach for the poorest people who need the most educational help. Sucking money and the best students from public schools, as our economy is in the toilet and the people at the bottom are hurting more than anyone, only makes sense to people with no sense of social justice. I don’t care how many charter schools there are or who sends their kids to them. My point is that poor districts need more funding, a LOT more funding, to provide equality of opportunity. That you keep bringing up the strawman of unions, which wasn’t mentioned by anyone but you, makes it appear that you can’t debate the facts. If you are a good example of charter school teachers, good luck to those students.

  79. tra
    April 14, 2011 at 1:37 pm

    But I think the bottom line should not be more science and math with less arts, humanities, social sciences and so on — it should be more of both.

    Those who care about their children’s high school education shouldn’t have to be forced into the position of choosing between the availability of quality art and music and history and language classes, and the availability of quality math and science courses. All these should be readily available, and high-quality.

    Eliminating or shortchanging any of these is penny-wise and pound-foolish, with a loss of productivity — and general competence — in any generation of students who suffers the bad luck to be in school a few years into a recession, with its declining tax revenues and short-sighted budget cuts.

    The fact is, if we want a healthier economy, and in general a healthier society, we should be putting more resources into funding education at all levels.

    This would include everything from improving the quality of the, staff, faculty, administration, curriculum and teaching methods of our traditional public school system (not to mention upgrading the buildings themselves), to supporting innovative (and non-profit) charter schools that can have more flexibility to try promising new approaches that can later be adopted more broadly in the public schools, to improving he quality and status of technical and trade schools to supporting public higher education institutions to supporting higher education in general by reducing the extraordinary financial burdens that our system places on students themselves.

    Yeah, I know… we’ll probably see flying pigs and a hard frost in hell happen first. Still, all those things should be our goals, and we should never accept the argument that we have to screw our kids out of a good liberal arts education in order to get them an adequate math and science education, or vice versa.

  80. Plain Jane
    April 14, 2011 at 1:38 pm

    And what sort of school do you teach at where you can sit and post on blogs all day?

  81. Landlord
    April 14, 2011 at 1:51 pm

    Jane, Mitch, Teacher, etc, you DO know that charter schools ARE public schools, right?

  82. Plain Jane
    April 14, 2011 at 1:54 pm

    They are publicly funded but they are not public schools, Landlord.

    “Charter schools fit in a niche between private and public schools. They are funded with public money (except for their facilities) and they are an alternative to regular public schools systems. A private group of people can submit and get approved a charter to run their own school. Charter schools receive waivers from public school districts in exchange for promising better academic results. Charters are usually given for 3-5 years, where an eye is kept on academic performance. If academic performance lags behind comparable public schools, then the “charter” is pulled and the school is closed.”

    http://www.publicschoolreview.com/articles/3

  83. Landlord
    April 14, 2011 at 1:56 pm

    Funded publicly and open to all, they are considered to be public.

  84. Mitch
    April 14, 2011 at 1:58 pm

    Yes Landlord. And the Republican name for any bill gutting the environment is some variation of the Environmental Benevolence Act. What’s your point?

    Do charter schools admit all applicants? Offer public employee benefits to their staffs? Offer tenure to their teachers? Pay their share of special ed costs?

    I’d like to see competition in education, but only if there’s a level playing field. And if history is any guide, any time a conservative offers a level playing field, it’s time to watch for a switchblade in their palm.

  85. Landlord
  86. Plain Jane
    April 14, 2011 at 2:01 pm

    They aren’t open to all, Landlord and Mitch. While many are so hungry for students that they take what they can get, the good ones have waiting lists and can pick and choose who they want just like a private school does.

  87. Mitch
    April 14, 2011 at 2:05 pm

    Humboldt has had blind students confined to wheelchairs who have behavior problems and learning difficulties.

    Will your charter school accept them? If not, they’re not public schools.

  88. Landlord
    April 14, 2011 at 2:08 pm

    Having had my children’s school changed into a charter school, I can answer that “yes” Mitch, they admitted all kids in the district and as many as they could fit who came from outside the district. They paid theyr teachers benefits, as before the change. They offered tenure to the teachers. And their special education program continued as before. Your attack of me was quite Jane-like.

    The conversation went on comparing public versus charter schools. It sounded like you all didn’t know that charter schools are indeed, public schools.

    Sorry for posting a duplicate link above.

  89. Landlord
    April 14, 2011 at 2:10 pm

    I don’t know if my school will accept all kids with handicaps. I only said that charter schools are public.

  90. Mitch
    April 14, 2011 at 2:10 pm

    Flat out, Landlord, I don’t believe you. I’m sure others will correct me if I’m wrong.

  91. Landlord
    April 14, 2011 at 2:12 pm

    What don’t you believe?

  92. Mitch
    April 14, 2011 at 2:15 pm

    I don’t believe that this accurately and completely describes what happened:

    “I can answer that “yes” Mitch, they admitted all kids in the district and as many as they could fit who came from outside the district. They paid theyr teachers benefits, as before the change. They offered tenure to the teachers. And their special education program continued as before. “

  93. Landlord
    April 14, 2011 at 2:17 pm

    Call one of our local charter schools and ask them if they and their teachers are part of the public school system, and paid by the district they are in.

  94. Landlord
    April 14, 2011 at 2:19 pm

    The charter schools are given more free reign than the other schools in the district. They can have a “theme”- a learning area, like arts or sciences, or more freedom to work on their own. They have to be accountable but they don’t have the same exact rules as other public schools. It’s an interesting concept and has made the public school system more flexible and adaptable to individual kids’ needs, plus, no tuition like if they went to a private school.

  95. Mitch
    April 14, 2011 at 2:21 pm

    Fair enough. What’s your child’s school? I’ll call them this afternoon or tomorrow.

  96. Landlord
    April 14, 2011 at 2:23 pm

    I will give you a list of the schools in Humboldt County that are charter schools. My kids’ school is one of them:

    http://www.humboldt.k12.ca.us/schdist/charterschools.php

  97. Plain Jane
    April 14, 2011 at 2:28 pm

    I just spoke to the HCOE and they said that charter schools are not really public schools since they do not have to accept any student they don’t want. They are under the umbrella of the public schools which have to fund them, but they have different standards and set their own curriculum.

  98. Plain Jane
    April 14, 2011 at 2:29 pm

    Their number is 445-7000

  99. Landlord
    April 14, 2011 at 2:31 pm

    Believe what you want, Jane. Your taxpayer dollars pay for charter schools and the links I sent (like the NEA) describe them as public schools. Yes, they are allowed to have different standards. You yourself provide links to sites all the time and here is the time you are completely wrong with the facts staring you in the face, and you can’t admit you are wrong. Why should I care? I was trying to add to the conversation to set you all on the right track. You have so proven to me that your opinion is set no matter what.

  100. Mitch
    April 14, 2011 at 2:36 pm

    Landlord,

    People I trust are opposed to charter schools, but I don’t know enough about the topic.

    Here’s what CTA (the California Teachers Association) has to say:

    http://www.cta.org/Issues-and-Action/RTTT/Charter-Schools-Research.aspx

    CTA also refers to them as offering opportunities in “the public school setting.”

    Sorry to jump on you, Landlord.

  101. Landlord
    April 14, 2011 at 2:37 pm

    Mitch, I have tried to send a link to my child’s school three times. I believe there is a problem with this site and the link (moderation?) So, please google “Humboldt County Charter Schools” and it will show you the list of our local charter schools and what districts they are in. My child’s school is one of those.

  102. Plain Jane
    April 14, 2011 at 2:39 pm

    They are public in the sense that they are publicly funded but private in the sense that they can refuse students they don’t want. As stated WAY above, they are in the middle between private and public.

  103. Landlord
    April 14, 2011 at 2:40 pm

    Mitch, I appreciate that. I have to agree with the negatives of charter schools. They can be elitists and get around the rules, leaving many regular public schools in the dust, in depressed areas, etc, while the charter schools get the kids who have parents who will help them and fund raise for the school programs. And the charter schools get more funding as they are full of kids.

  104. Landlord
    April 14, 2011 at 2:43 pm

    There is no halfway, Jane. If it helps you to think that, fine. You pay for the charter schools with your taxes. They don’t get tuition. Private schools get tuition. They can accept donations, as can the public schools. You are amazing in your persistence. Now I know why a person absolutely cannot argue with you.

  105. Mitch
    April 14, 2011 at 2:46 pm

    For what it’s worth, here’s a link to an outfit called EdSource that has studied California charter school performance. Their 2009 study has a fee, but the link is to the associated FAQ:

    http://www.edsource.org/iss_cha_09report_FAQ.html

  106. Plain Jane
    April 14, 2011 at 2:51 pm

    They don’t have to accept kids they don’t want, Landlord. Your school may, but they don’t have to. Public schools have to accept every kid in their district regardless of the child’s abilities or problems.

  107. Teacher
    April 14, 2011 at 2:51 pm

    Landlord, I enjoyed your informative and well-intentioned posts. I was referring to “public” schools and charter schools to differentiate between the two. This makes it sound as if charters aren’t public but I didn’t mean to infer that. Charter schools are public as you have said. I worked at a charter school in another city and have worked locally at charter schools and was completely impressed. Mitch mentioned early that he didn’t like the one size fits all current school system and I began talking about the beauty of the charter school system.

  108. Teacher
    April 14, 2011 at 2:53 pm

    PJ, legally, charter schools can’t accept all kids because they can’t meat federal guidelines that stipulate that certain services be provided for certain disabled people. If they can’t offer the necessary services, they can’t legally accept the student. This has nothing to do with being a “public” school.
    I get it. You don’t like charter schools. Why even argue about it? You clearly don’t want to take any other point-of-view into consideration.

  109. Plain Jane
    April 14, 2011 at 2:57 pm

    So HOCE either doesn’t know that charter schools are public schools or they lied about it. They don’t have to accept ANY student they don’t want. I understand WHY people want to put their kids in charter schools, as I have said before. The problem is the damage taking funding from public schools that have to take every kid who wants to attend and leaving behind the most expensive. Why not let people with kids in fully private schools do the same? Let’s just cancel public schools, hand out vouchers and those who can pay the difference between voucher and tuition can get a good education for their kids and the rest can be in daycare.

  110. Landlord
    April 14, 2011 at 2:59 pm

    The charter school idea certainly has its positives and negatives. Jane, I don’t think your definition matters. These public school don’t have to accept every kid in their district. They have special themes and special rules. They are different from the other public schools. Whoever you talked to at the county office either got words put into her mouth or she doesn’t understand. I bet if you asked any principal in one of those districts they would be able to tell you more specifically, what it means to be a charter school. Wish I could stay, but it’s time for me to get in my car and go.

  111. Plain Jane
    April 14, 2011 at 3:13 pm

    If you read the thread, Landlord, you would have noticed that the issue came up because Teacher was claiming charter schools outperformed public schools, which was a half truth, some do and some don’t. Then the issue of demographics was brought up which clearly showed that poverty and class size were highly relevant factors. Teacher then changed the subject to unions and you brought up that they were public schools, which was never the issue, but which is also only half true, since they get public money but don’t have to follow public rules.

  112. Not A Native
    April 14, 2011 at 3:16 pm

    Its not that important, but Lowell High is a ‘magnet’ school. It doesn’t admit anyone who applies. Highly selective admission began there in 1966, because of a large increase in the number of applicants due to the start of integration in S.F. public schools.

    To me, Lowell is no different from a charter school, except its administered by an publically elected board instead of a privately formed board.

    Charter schools are strongly supported by parents who don’t like their publically administered school options and also believe their children have a right to publically funded schooling. And its not always about perceived elitism, its always about the management. Some charter schools enroll special needs(gifted or disabled) children.

    From Wiki:

    Lowell is one of the two public schools in the San Francisco Unified School District (the other being School of the Arts) that is permitted to admit only students who meet special admission requirements.

  113. High Finance
    April 14, 2011 at 3:22 pm

    Anyone who thinks charter schools as a group are better than public schools has simply fallen for the advertising.

    A large part of it is also caused by anti government and anti teacher’s union feeling of a lot of people.

  114. Plain Jane
    April 14, 2011 at 3:27 pm

    Yes, Nan, kids have had to compete for admission since 1962. Lowell is a non-districted academic high school designed to provide the brightest students with prep school-like education with public funds.

  115. Plain Jane
    April 14, 2011 at 3:28 pm

    That must be a HiFi clone or I’m dreaming. FFS HiFi!

  116. Plain Jane
    April 14, 2011 at 3:29 pm

    oops, 1966 not 1962.

  117. Reinventing The Wheel
    April 14, 2011 at 3:42 pm

    According to research by America’s leading expert on civil service, New York University professor Paul Light, “…outsourcing public services to private contracts diminishes institutional memory which creates the leverage that private contractors use for higher compensation and expanded bureaucracies”. “The Obama administration concedes privatization is ultimately more expensive”.(Sept/Oct. 2009, Mother Jones).

    To segue back to the topic:

    Public or private, it’s fascinating how we focus on teaching children to be self-sufficient, indeed, it’s the primary focus of the scouts and most youth groups.

    Then, the second decade of their education undermines what they’ve learned.

    Ralph Nader illustrated this to 2,000 HSU students in 1999 when he described their “degree in harmony ideology”; “lacking prerequisites in contract law, advocacy, comparative justice, labor history, diplomacy, negotiation, communication, activism, among other essentials needed to assert oneself in society”.

    We emphasize independence to our children, then launch them into an unsustainable culture predicated on imperial hegemony and perpetual wars dutifully discounted by media as “necessary for national security”, effectively censoring the uncomfortable reality of over-consumption, its actual costs, and inevitable collapse.

    We’ve deceived ourselves into thinking we could allow the most powerful corporations and military on Earth to harvest the world’s resources and expendable child-labor….and that they wouldn’t come “home” to similarly harvest the only capital most Americans hold…our homes!

    Our history explains the arrogance of local speculators like Arkley, who feel entitled to dominate the control of our rural community’s infrastructure, economy, media, and politics.

    This is a tyranny, like so many others, engendering a fear so real that we RARELY see our “free-press” delve into this abyss without thoroughly sanitizing it with entertaining hyperbole, (Hank Sims: http://www.northcoastjournal.com/news/2010/06/24/movin-on-up).

    Only a few times in our nation’s history has U.S. plutocracy been briefly inconvenienced by the “left”, and thanks to a complicit media, academia, and government, we have been rapidly losing those few, hard-fought compromises.

  118. Mitch
    April 14, 2011 at 3:52 pm

    So, FWIW, I’ve spoken with someone more in the know about charter schools. Here’s some of what they have to say.

    First, “charter schools” is a category that encompasses many schools of varying quality. Schools initiated by school districts may be high quality, and will indeed provide teachers with the same benefits as regular public schools. Other charters may pay teachers low hourly rates and offer them no tenure.

    Charters are paid per student-day of attendance, just like public schools. But they can keep what they don’t spend, and they don’t have to put their students through standardized testing the way public schools do.

    Thus, a for-profit charter school could, in theory, take the money set aside to educate a kid, buy the family a computer, spend a bit on the kid, and pocket the rest.

    The more profitable it becomes, the more the unscrupulous operators will want to attract students. That’s not to say that there won’t be honest ones as well.

  119. Plain Jane
    April 14, 2011 at 4:22 pm

    Schools without the rules! What’s not to love?

  120. Hank Sims
    April 14, 2011 at 4:27 pm

    … they don’t have to put their students through standardized testing the way public schools do.

    No way. Charter schools are subject to No Child Left Behind, just like everyone else.

  121. Mitch
    April 14, 2011 at 4:38 pm

    Well, I’m prepared to be wrong, Hank. But my source is a teacher.

  122. Hank Sims
    April 14, 2011 at 4:40 pm

    Plane Jane:

    They aren’t open to all, Landlord and Mitch. While many are so hungry for students that they take what they can get, the good ones have waiting lists and can pick and choose who they want just like a private school does.

    In the charter schools that I’m familiar with this is absolutely not the case at all. When there are more applicants than spaces, the school has to pick students by lottery. There are a couple of small exceptions. Younger siblings of current students will be given priority. Apart from that, it is absolutely prohibited — and illegal, I believe, for a school to “choose” its students by anything but chance.

    Also, the lack of resources for children with special needs is generally no excuse not to admit them. This admittedly isn’t the greatest source in the world, but it squares with my experience.

  123. Mitch
    April 14, 2011 at 4:42 pm

    Sigh. That’s what I get from listening to a teacher.

    From CA Dept of Ed:
    “A charter school is generally exempt from most laws governing school districts, except where specifically noted in the law. California public charter schools are required to participate in the statewide assessment test, called the STAR (Standardized Testing and Reporting) program.”

  124. Hank Sims
    April 14, 2011 at 4:45 pm

    Mitch, you beat me to it. If you like, you can go here, select “Humboldt County” and hit search. You’ll get a list of all schools in the county and their STAR test results.

    Believe me, the charters on that list would not participate in standardized testing if they didn’t have to.

  125. Teacher
    April 14, 2011 at 4:46 pm

    You’re wrong Mitch. Charter schools are evaluated based off their end of the year test scores. They then factor in demographics and give the schools an API score (all public schools do this). For charter schools, this API is crucial because it validates their school and is the main thing districts look at when deciding whether or not to renew a charter.
    Also, I’m the schools can’t just pocket left over money. They have budgets that function the same as regular public schools only they have more wiggle room when it comes to what to do with left-over money.

  126. Mitch
    April 14, 2011 at 4:53 pm

    Yes, (other) Teacher, I’m wrong. I blame society.

  127. Teacher
    April 14, 2011 at 5:05 pm

    I would blame you traditional public school for not teaching you how to properly research things.

  128. Mitch
    April 14, 2011 at 5:13 pm

    I think the statute of limitations has run out. I’ve tried to blame my “source,” but he just shrugged and smiled.

  129. Not A Native
    April 14, 2011 at 5:21 pm

    Mitch wrote: “The more profitable it becomes, the more the unscrupulous operators will want to attract students.”

    I see bias in your choice of priorities, an assumption that profits primarily attract unscrupulous people.

    Couldn’t you as accurately say: “The more profitable it becomes the more scrupulous operators will want to attract students. Thats not to say there won’t be some dishonest ones as well.”

    Doesn’t the prospect of oversized profits attract a lot of people into a business, increasing supply and lowering profits? I read all the time that big profits(and lax enforcement) in blackmarket pot encourages people in HumCo to grow pot and grow ‘better’ pot, not to rip off their customers.

  130. Mitch
    April 14, 2011 at 5:37 pm

    OK NaN, interesting point.

    Maybe I should have said this: because charter schools offer unscrupulous operators an opportunity to keep for themselves taxpayer money that was intended for children’s education, charter schools should only be allowed to operate under strict regulatory regimes.

    It’s been my experience that the higher the profit, the more bullshit comes into play. That probably has caused the bias you detect.

    I fear that I’m going to need an intervention for my Herald addiction. This has been, for me, nearly a full day lost to capitalist venture, and I expect severe retribution from my boss once he wakes up and discovers my transgressions.

    And for what? Merely to be revealed as ignorant with respect to charter schools, as a sucker to seemingly authoritative teachers, and heaven knows what else. It’s even worse than having my punctuation failures exposed.

    Heraldo, you are a problem.

  131. Reinventing The Wheel
    April 14, 2011 at 5:42 pm

    Our public schools, prisons, hospitals, housing, policing, welfare, roads, water services, and military, lack proper funding allocations, but it’s logical to allow less accountable, private owners to squeeze profit out of it?

    A generation of “free-market” ideology manufactured the public divestment failures being exploited by privatization.

    Divestment from public schools, higher prison recidivism rates, poorer health care outcomes, unaffordable housing, inadequate emergency services, roads, utilities, and perpetual war are all very, very good for business, and the campaign donations it generates.

    It explains a lot.

  132. Stay in school
    April 14, 2011 at 6:00 pm

    Blogger’s lament —

    “This has been, for me, nearly a full day lost to capitalist venture, and I expect severe retribution from my boss once he wakes up and discovers my transgressions.”

    Introducing laughter to another blogger’s day is not an unworthy venture. I laughed at this:

    “I think the statute of limitations has run out. I’ve tried to blame my “source,” but he just shrugged and smiled.”

  133. Landlord
    April 14, 2011 at 7:33 pm

    Charter schools are run by people with credentials and the same standards as any other public school, right? When you say “operators”, who are we speaking about? I am not sure about this aspect of it. Most charter schools used to be more typical public schools and when they went “charter” they keep the same staff and physical location. I am not sure though, about those charter schools that are started “from scratch”. Who runs those?

  134. April 14, 2011 at 8:10 pm

    Oh my God, is Arkley opening a charter school? Reading this thread, you would certainly think so. Imagine what he would teach. Temper tantrums 1A, Usery, Dominance 1A, B, C, and Capturing and Controling the public process. Buying Elections would be an Elective. Teachers could teach for tips. It’s a brave new world.

  135. High Finance
    April 16, 2011 at 5:46 pm

    It’s nice to see you posting under your own name for a change Mouse.

  136. SmokeMonster
    April 17, 2011 at 11:55 am

    Phone call went like this:

    HCOE secretary – hello HCOE

    PJ-hi,I’m on a blog arguing,internet bullying people to think like me and today its charter schools.
    They are not public schools are they?

    HCOE Secretary – ummmm I don’t think so but what do I know I’m just a secretary,would you like to speak with mr.boucher?

    PJ- no thanks, you have given me all the info I need thanks,have a great day

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