Charter schools 'amassing' special ed cash?

Full story: The Morning Call

Through their local school districts, taxpayers pay millions of dollars to educate special education students enrolled in Pennsylvania 's increasing number of charter schools.

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Following the rules

Old Forge, PA

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#1
Jul 10, 2009
 
It's another case of charter schools wanting the money, but do not want to give any accountabilty

Since: Jul 08

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#2
Jul 10, 2009
 
I don't see anything wrong with this law. The charter schools feel they're getting picked on. If they're legitimately spending this money on special ed. needs they have nothign to worry about. If they're getting excess funds, then they should return it to the "home school district."

Charter schools do not build new buildings they set up in existing buildings and then renovate. They do not have the resources needed for a good education. If the childs' "home school" deems the "per pupil cost" to be less than another pupils-that is unavoidable. It's first come, first serve.Each school has varying amounts of funding coming in.

This law would definitely help the taxpayer. With this budget crisis we currently have we don't need anyone getting more than their fair share.
local mom

United States

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#3
Jul 10, 2009
 
Charter schools have less/different accountability because that was how the state set up the law. PDE should take more responsibilities for these schools because there are alot of crooks running some of them who are intentionally taking advantage. Also, it does cost charter schools more to provide special education services because they are able to provide more than a local district which in turn results in greater expenses. That is exactly why parents want to use these vehicles to educate their children-to get what they couldn't at their local school.
This article points the finger at the schools. Try checking out the charter school laws and the level of accountability from Rendell and his cohorts...that's where you'll find the real problems!!

“Howdy, Ya'll!”

Since: Feb 07

Allentown

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#4
Jul 10, 2009
 
Three times as much to educate the "special education" kids. Wow. I wonder what our return on investment is on this expenditure? What exactly are we hoping to accomplish with these expenditures?

It would seem the incentive for ANY charter school (or any school for that matter) would be to increase the special ed population so as to increase funding. Of course this system is going to abused. The fact that charter schools are complaining that it's too difficult to quantify special ed spending leads me to immediately think that something is definitely fishy with their accounting. Why aren't aids, teaching materials, etc. already figured into their special education costs?
Sam

Macungie, PA

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#5
Jul 10, 2009
 
WHY are we funding charter schools at all, ever, with tax money?
Wondering

United States

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#6
Jul 10, 2009
 
Since gifted children and considered "Special ed" I wonder how much of this money is being spent on them. Probably nothing.
whatever

Emmaus, PA

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#7
Jul 10, 2009
 
Parents are sick and tired of the run around they get at public school. Many teachers stink, but are secure in their jobs due to tenure. Charter schools and cyber schools are getting more and more popular. With cyber school, no need to build new schools and raise taxes. Teacher unions that supported "Fat Eddie's" campaign, are now looking for pay back, they are most likely behind this.
reader2

Bethlehem, PA

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#8
Jul 10, 2009
 
If the taxpayers only knew how inefficient the districts and IUs are in spending their $$ in special ed... Some of the laws need to be changed.
hmmmmm

Nutley, NJ

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#9
Jul 10, 2009
 
MonkeyMomma wrote:
Three times as much to educate the "special education" kids. Wow. I wonder what our return on investment is on this expenditure? What exactly are we hoping to accomplish with these expenditures?
It would seem the incentive for ANY charter school (or any school for that matter) would be to increase the special ed population so as to increase funding. Of course this system is going to abused. The fact that charter schools are complaining that it's too difficult to quantify special ed spending leads me to immediately think that something is definitely fishy with their accounting. Why aren't aids, teaching materials, etc. already figured into their special education costs?
Special ed costs are extremely high no matter what type of school the children attend. In my district Special ed costs account for about 35% of the budget for about 10% of the students. As MonkeyMomma asks, What is the return on this investment? Mainstreaming or inclusion may be best for some of the students but what about the regular education students? In many cases they are getting shortchanged. I know many people will disagree with me but I've worked in schools and I know what I've seen.

As long as Charter Schools take public money then there has to be some sort of accountability, both financially and academically. Their "creativity" is not the issue. The issue is how is my money spent.

If we go to a voucher system where tax payer money is going to private schools, both secular and parochial, there will also have to be some sort of accountability on their part. If not, then there is no way private schools should get taxpayer money. One of the reasons that some of these schools claim to do a better job for less money, is that they can turn away students that they don't want. They don't have to take in special needs students that require a higher amount of money to educate or who will disrupt the rest of the class.

Charter schools are a few steps ahead of a voucher system. The difference is that charter schools are run with tax payer money that is diverted from the home district. If that money is being taken from the home district, then the public school system has less to spend in it's students. The money has to be made up. Guess how. The charter schools have to be more accountable. It's costing us too much money.
Fruit

AOL

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#10
Jul 10, 2009
 
Wondering wrote:
Since gifted children and considered "Special ed" I wonder how much of this money is being spent on them. Probably nothing.
Apples & Oranges.
hmmmmm

Nutley, NJ

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#11
Jul 10, 2009
 
whatever wrote:
Parents are sick and tired of the run around they get at public school. Many teachers stink, but are secure in their jobs due to tenure. Charter schools and cyber schools are getting more and more popular. With cyber school, no need to build new schools and raise taxes. Teacher unions that supported "Fat Eddie's" campaign, are now looking for pay back, they are most likely behind this.
Many teachers are good teachers who are fed up with parents not doing their jobs as parents and expecting teachers to do it for them. If you think that these schools are going to prevent taxes from going up, think again. Several hundred students of varying grades out of 20,000 students aren't going to eliminate teaching positions, lessen utility costs, building costs, text books, and other learning necessities. 4 or 5 students in one grade in one school that transfer to a charter or cyber school will not eliminate a classroom. Who will supervise the children at home to make sure that they are completing their computer assignments? I would also like to know where the proof is that the student is actually doing the cyber work. I've asked this on other forums and have yet to get an answer.
Mary Pickford

Scranton, PA

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#12
Jul 10, 2009
 
Morning Call has once again out done themselves with a wonderful piece!
These circumstances have been allowed to exist for a long time. It is no secret to Administrators that Special Education is a CASH COW. I can relate a past and present analogy for those who do not understand me.
In 1964 I was deemed unable to read at grade level. The previous year I wore an eye patch over my good eye in hopes of forcing my lazy eye to function. In the second grade I did not participate in reading because I was legally blind -I became an excellent listener. In third grade I took remedial reading before school with 5 other students. The four students were from special education, some had down syndrome & other issues but all had marginal intelligence. With 120 kids for all of 3rd grade and 18 kids in Special Education class then 13.04% required Special Ed.
By what this article stated -
“…adding that 40 of the school's 112 students are special education students…”

That would equate to 35.71% students presently requiring Special Ed. Or better yet a 36.51% INCREASE over 45 years in students receiving special ed!

Now lets take a look at The Anchorage Cyber Charter School.

http://www.ourpoconocommunity.com/phpBB3/view...

I also have the first denial of charter by PA Dept of Ed
http://www.pde.state.pa.us/charter_schools/li...

Number 12 on page 6
Anchorage’s Bylaws state that the Board of Directors shall fix the compensation
of directors for their services, which violates Section 321 of the Public School Code. 24 P.S.§3-321.

Page 13 under discussion
Special Education
Anchorage states in its application that prior to enrolling in Anchorage parents and
students will complete an intake and evaluation process. This process determines the student’s
educational experience and competency, areas of strengths and weaknesses and identified
disabilities and learning needs. See, Application, pgs. 11-12. The Charter School Law (“CSL”)
prohibits discrimination in a charter school’s admission policies or practices on the basis of
intellectual ability, measures of achievement or aptitude, status as a person with a disability or
proficiency in the English language. 24 P.S.§17-1723-A(b). The information Anchorage is
requiring a student and parent to divulge prior to enrolling in Anchorage is problematic because
of the possibility that the information will be used for admission of students in a discriminatory
manner, particularly students with identified disabilities. Anchorage should not seek this
information prior to enrolling students.

By exploiting the flaws in the Special Education Rules & Policies and by not providing an adequate information of a Financial plan for TACCS leads me to believe an insider with extensive knowledge came up with this whole idea! I haven’t even gotten to the second letter of denial. That is here-
http://www.pde.state.pa.us/charter_schools/li...

Page 4 states
Anchorage failed to meet the requirement that it provide a financial plan for
the charter school. 24 P.S.§17-1719-A(9).
hmmmmm

Nutley, NJ

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#13
Jul 10, 2009
 
Fruit wrote:
<quoted text>
Apples & Oranges.
Actually it's a fair question and one that deserves an answer.
LVF

United States

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#15
Jul 10, 2009
 
reader2 wrote:
If the taxpayers only knew how inefficient the districts and IUs are in spending their $$ in special ed... Some of the laws need to be changed.
If the taxpayers only knew how much money goes toward educating special needs children, there would be a revolt. Check your local budget and funding from the state and feds. You'll be in shock.

MOM saw the light. Ask questions.
Taxpayer Revolution

Allentown, PA

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#16
Jul 10, 2009
 
At some point, people are going to be sick of the taxes and corruption in this state and rise up.

Nobody looks out for the taxpayer anymore. Not a one!
Fred

Schnecksville, PA

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#17
Jul 10, 2009
 
Maybe the real question should be, "Why do charter schools only get 75% of the per pupil expenditure from the sending district?" Does this mean that "regular" public schools are receiving 25% more than they need?
nicole

Philadelphia, PA

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#18
Jul 10, 2009
 
redneck wrote:
UHMM why spend ANY money on special ed people? it is not like they are going to be of any help in the future. they just **** up TAXPAYER money. the parents should take on this burden NOT the taxpayer. why should I have to pay because you gave birth to it? with all the other issues in this country why WASTE TAXPAYER money on this type of .... also why is taxmoney going to these make believe schools???? WTF
Wow..who peed in your cheerios this morning? I imagine your view would be different if you had a special needs child. My son goes to a charter school and is getting a fabulous education and is very advanced because of his teacher and my husband and I working together to further his education. I own a home and pay school taxes by the way and am very pleased with the school that gets paid for with this money. How do you know that a special needs child will not benefit you in the future. You have no idea what your future holds so I would be very careful about how you approach this subject.
Big Sigh

Macungie, PA

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#19
Jul 10, 2009
 
hmmmmm wrote:
<quoted text>
Many teachers are good teachers who are fed up with parents not doing their jobs as parents and expecting teachers to do it for them. If you think that these schools are going to prevent taxes from going up, think again. Several hundred students of varying grades out of 20,000 students aren't going to eliminate teaching positions, lessen utility costs, building costs, text books, and other learning necessities. 4 or 5 students in one grade in one school that transfer to a charter or cyber school will not eliminate a classroom. Who will supervise the children at home to make sure that they are completing their computer assignments? I would also like to know where the proof is that the student is actually doing the cyber work. I've asked this on other forums and have yet to get an answer.
I agree with you that there are many parents who do not do what they need to with their kids as far as learning, but lets look at the other side of the fence as well. I work with my children, a lot. But, then they get to public school and are covering the areas which they had covered in preschool two years ago, and then they get bored and act up. Then, that's my fault too, and the teachers call for every little thing that they need to be addressing in the classroom. Most years in public school, my kids have had very good teachers, but just one year with a mediocre teacher is extremely frustrating. Teachers should learn to address the needs of each individual student OR have two different "levels" of classes - one for kids who are where they should be, and one for kids who need to retrack some things. But, right away the school districts what to say that the kids who are bored in the classroom have ADD/ADHD. It's really sad and ashame. I feel sad for the kids who's parents don't catch on to this trend. Charter schools give parents an added choice as to their kids' education...if they are better, I have no problems with my tax dollars being raised to ensure that my kids get a better education...but the public schools need to revamp on some things, they are sinking pretty fast.

As far as the cyber schools - parents need to keep a log of activities that the kids are doing and report that to the school weekly. Children must sign in (a lot of classes are through the internet) each day and are marked with an absence if not. They are stricter with the kids through the cyber schools than they are at the public schools! Parents need to be there for their kids' lessons, and to answer questions, and you are given a teacher to correspond with via phone/email to get advice from or to help a student. Many of the cyber schools also offer tutoring (part of the tax $$) for the kids, and let's not forget that monthly you need to meet personally with your teacher while they "test" your child in the areas that you were working on to ensure that you and your child are working up to par and doing what you should be doing - or checking for gaps in learning so that they know how to accomodate your child. If they find the lessons are too easy, they will accelerate the program for them. If they find they are too hard, they take a step back down. Something that the public schools seem to be failing at.
Forks Gal

United States

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#20
Jul 10, 2009
 
If the schools are doing a more efficient job at educated special education students ... how about figuring out how they do it and applying it to the public schools and REALLY start saving money?
Big Sigh

Macungie, PA

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#21
Jul 10, 2009
 
Forks Gal wrote:
If the schools are doing a more efficient job at educated special education students ... how about figuring out how they do it and applying it to the public schools and REALLY start saving money?
I would LOVE an answer to that question myself! I think it all comes down to dollars and cents, AND the wonderful no child left behind act. The schools are concentrating so much on how to teach the kids how to test that the kids are missing out on other valuable areas of their education! They rarely get a chance to be creative in traditional public schools anymore. This sets a theme for boredom as well. I've seen some teachers try to incorporate some things into their classroom (and those were the good teachers) and some teachers are really just "instructors" and those are the teachers that seem to have trouble maintaining classroom discipline. If these kids weren't so bored in school they would WANT to do the work and wouldn't be such a disruption.

The school districts really should pay better attention to what these schools are doing. If they'd work together more they could accomplish a happy medium. Sometimes, I think, it's the school boards are just too pigheaded to realize that any changes are needed.

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