Charter schools 'amassing' special ed cash?

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

Allentown, PA

#22 Jul 10, 2009
Fruit wrote:
<quoted text>
Apples & Oranges.
It's not apples and oranges...actually gifted kids too often end up falling behind their peers on work, because they are not challenged enough, and you have quite a few kids that ARE gifted that are never acknowledged, because no one ever "sees" it, or if the school does "testing" the kid falls one point below standards for admission into the gifted program - well, guess what? Even though that kid DIDN'T qualify for the schools program - they are still gifted and will require something more than others. Not to mention the fact that many kids with learning disabilities are often gifted (meaning that the learn at faster and comprehend things better), but are more than often missed because their disabilities hold them back. If these kids do not get what they need, then they end up feeling stupid (it is known that gifted child often feel isolated and lonely because they feel they don't fit in with their peers) and then they fall behind ACHIEVEMENT wise (academically). That is NOT to say that they are not still "gifted" (testing at a high IQ, meaning that they SHOULD have no trouble comprehending anything). So, gifted education is not what people think of it as being, and what's the statistic? I don't know, maybe someone can help out here - but, isn't it thought that more than half of high school drop outs are actually gifted "underachievers" - in my opinion this is what the schools are failing to realize, and therefore are failing their students at helping them achieve an education they are worthy of.
reality

United States

#23 Jul 10, 2009
The USA has all inclusive education of all students, regardless of their abilities. If you want MORE for a child, put them in enrichment programs. Special Ed costs money because specialized services are provided by people with expertise in specific areas. There is always waste. What needs to happen is closer supervision by principals, special education supervisors, and IU supervisors. The charter schools provide parents with an alternative, as do cyber and private schools. Thank goodness we still have these choices in America and our students aren't excluded from education that will train them for future career paths.
noway

Blandon, PA

#25 Jul 10, 2009
:''A school might get $15,000 to provide special education per pupil, but it only spent $10,000, so they are basically making $5,000 off that student,'' Race said"

It's not just the special education students. The Charter Schools are making money off EVERY student and taxpayer!
Mrs B

Selinsgrove, PA

#26 Jul 10, 2009
noway wrote:
:''A school might get $15,000 to provide special education per pupil, but it only spent $10,000, so they are basically making $5,000 off that student,'' Race said"
It's not just the special education students. The Charter Schools are making money off EVERY student and taxpayer!
Wrong, the charter schools only get funding for the students they have enrolled. It's the brick and mortar schools that are leeching off the taxpayers.

Defund all public school education, make it pay as you go, and then we'll see how quickly these people learn how to make due with what they have. Force them to stay within their means, just like private schools, and things will change rapidly.
hmmmmm

Ledgewood, NJ

#27 Jul 10, 2009
Big Sigh wrote:
<quoted text>
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.
Your kids are fortunate. Many parents do not work with their children. Working with children doesn't only mean helping with homework. It means reading to them, making sure that they get a good night's sleep, and a proper meal.
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.
I agree with you 100%. The problem is that many people do not want their kids "tracked" and feel that mixed classes provide a better education for all students.
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 a shame. 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.
I don't necessarily feel that the public schools are sinking fast. I've seen an awful lot of very good teachers. I feel that standardized testing has taken the creativity out of the classroom. Like it or not, teachers have to, at least somewhat, teach to the tests that determine school financing. It's impossible to to teach a classroom of 30 students and address the individual needs of each students. In upper grades multiply this by 5 or 6 classes. It's a daunting task. This is another reason that I feel tracking or grouping would benefit students.
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 accommodate 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.
Thank you for answering my questions about cyber schools. I really appreciate it.

This type of schooling, at least in the lower grades, requires quite a bit of parental involvement. How many parents can stay home and monitor their students? Obviously these parents are involved with their children. How will this alternative to public school education help children whose parents aren't involved? Those are the kids who are falling behind from day one.
hmmmmm

Ledgewood, NJ

#28 Jul 10, 2009
Big Sigh is right on the money about gifted students. When my daughter was in school special needs was restricted to students with learning disabilities and low IQ's. Gifted didn't figure into the picture. She was gifted and not challenged because of a lack of funding. There was a program but for some reason no one qualified. She has a high IQ and grades. What kept her out of the program? A "B" in handwriting. She had "A's" in everything else. By the time she got to high school where there are different levels of classes, she didn't know what to do if she was challenged. Everything had been too easy before.I'm glad that the needs of the gifted are finally being realized.
Upper Bucks

Quakertown, PA

#29 Jul 10, 2009
So are we to believe that school districts aren't wasting any money and make wise use of our tax dollars?
Pass the Koolaid!
Storm

Whitehall, PA

#30 Jul 10, 2009
Mrs. B:

You wrote:

Defund all public school education, make it pay as you go, and then we'll see how quickly these people learn how to make due with what they have. Force them to stay within their means, just like private schools, and things will change rapidly.

What do you mean by defund all public schools?

When you say these people will see what it is like to make do. Who are these people?

How do you force a school district as large as Northampton, Parkland, etc. to stay within their means. What do you mean by their means? Do you have any ties to private schools? Are these the schools that screen the applicants, have facilites to address special needs students, work with the below average intelligence children, and take care of the student who comes from a poor home and poverty?
Storm

Whitehall, PA

#31 Jul 10, 2009
Upper Bucks wrote:
So are we to believe that school districts aren't wasting any money and make wise use of our tax dollars?
Pass the Koolaid!
Upper Bucks:

When you say wasting money, I am sure you are referring to high teacher and administrative salaries. The remainder of school budgets are as tight as a drum, but remember when unforseen situations arise after the budget is approved, what do you do? Should we not fix the leaks, repair the buses, take care of the lawns, pay for the new student who just registered with multiple handicaps. How about the unexpected law suit that arises? The cost for one special needs student as I just mentioned can blow a big hole in your budget. I have been involved in many many school budgets. You sit and pray that none of the things happen because in order to pass that budget with the minimum of tax increase ordered by the board, all other contingencies have been eliminated to arrive at the millage.

Just as you and I do the same that our home does not need repairs. Supt. and business managers do the same. However this does not always happen. If it does we take from savings or take loans. Districts do the same or raise taxes because that is it only source of funding.
Marcus

Slatington, PA

#32 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
If we don't spend money on special ed kids, they'll end up like you.
ABE-5980

Mount Aetna, PA

#33 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.
I suspect that you do not fully understand the "protection" tenure gives a teacher. All that a teacher gains by receiving tenure is the right to a hearing in front of the school board before being fired, and the burden of proof shifts from teacher to school district. In other words, the district has to prove that the tenured teacher is NOT doing his job instead of an untenured teacher having to prove that he IS doing his job. It's really just what anybody accused of something in the country is guaranteed, a right to be heard and plead your case and the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty. Tenured teachers can be fired easily if the administration does its job and documents the charges well.
Truth can hurt

Nazareth, PA

#34 Jul 10, 2009
ABE-5980,

Thank you!

The tenure issue is always brought up as some sort of "outrageous" perk. Really, it's not.

As you point out, teachers can be (and are) fired if they are unworthy. As a matter of fact, MOST unworthy teachers are brought in for a conference with the building principal, presented evidence, than choose to RESIGN rather than force the tenure protection.

PLENTY of public school teachers are "removed" each year across Pennsylvania by means other than the tenure clause.
ABE-5980

Mount Aetna, PA

#35 Jul 10, 2009
"The state report also shows that the Vitalistic Therapeutic Charter School in Bethlehem spent less than one-third of the state money earmarked for special education instruction, reporting it used just $75,830 out of a $326,844 state subsidy.

Naomi Grossman, the school's executive director, said all of the state's money benefited special education students, who learn in an ''inclusive setting'' in general education classes. She said it's too difficult to separate spending on special education and spending on general education."

I could totally believe that Vitalistic only spent a third of its allottment on special ed if they teach them all in "inclusive" classrooms. For those of you who don't know what an inclusive classroom is, it's when you take special ed kids and put them in a regular ed class with an aide or other staff member with them (it's almost never a certified special ed teacher, either). Sometimes, the school doesn't even send an aide with the special ed kid. It's up to the regular classroom teacher to teach the special ed kid. So, the school can claim funding for a special ed kid while only spending a mere fraction of what it would cost if they were to place them in a separate class with a certified special ed teacher and all the associated services (speech, occupational therapy, etc.). In short, it sounds like a bit of a scam by Vitalistic to me. They have EVERY one of their special ed kids included??? That means no additional teachers, rooms, services, etc. to eat into the bottom line, right? On top of the questionable accounting by Vitalistic, is it really in the best interests of every one of those kids to be included? Inclusion isn't for every kid in every subject. Any competent special ed teacher will tell you that. Sounds like the Vitalistic school might be a good place for the Secretary of Education and the Attorney General to visit.
Common Sense

Fairport, NY

#36 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...your post is expressed in a cold and ignorant manner, but there is a grain of truth there. We spend entirely too much money based upon our feelings and wanting everyone to be the same (when, unfortunately, they cannot be), and wind up with too little money for educating everyone else.

I'm not willing to be cold and heartless and go as far as you do - Speical Education students need additional support, and it is our unquestionable responsbility as a society to provide this extra support to them. I will, however, say that more of our education spending should be spent in ways that logically improve society, rather than making us emotionally feel good. I've heard numbers that 35% of districts spending is for Special Education, which is certainly no more (and probably much less) than 10% of student population. That kind of ratio just cannot be sustained.

An old socialistic Star Trekkism that applies very well in this case..."The needs of the many must outweigh the needs of the few, or the one".
Big Sigh

Allentown, PA

#37 Jul 10, 2009
hmmmmm wrote:
<quoted text>
Your kids are fortunate. Many parents do not work with their children. Working with children doesn't only mean helping with homework. It means reading to them, making sure that they get a good night's sleep, and a proper meal.

**I know, I agree with you on that 100%.

<quoted text>
I agree with you 100%. The problem is that many people do not want their kids "tracked" and feel that mixed classes provide a better education for all students.

**Well, I can't speak for others, and perhaps some children would benefit from seeing what other children are doing to encourage them...but, it's not fair to the kids who get a bad wrap for having to repeat info.

<quoted text>
I don't necessarily feel that the public schools are sinking fast. I've seen an awful lot of very good teachers. I feel that standardized testing has taken the creativity out of the classroom. Like it or not, teachers have to, at least somewhat, teach to the tests that determine school financing. It's impossible to to teach a classroom of 30 students and address the individual needs of each students. In upper grades multiply this by 5 or 6 classes. It's a daunting task. This is another reason that I feel tracking or grouping would benefit students.

***Absolutely agreed it's a daunting task for teachers! I really do have a great appreciation for teachers who care enough that go that extra mile for the kids that need it. Unfortunately, not all are like that.

<quoted text>
Thank you for answering my questions about cyber schools. I really appreciate it.
This type of schooling, at least in the lower grades, requires quite a bit of parental involvement. How many parents can stay home and monitor their students? Obviously these parents are involved with their children. How will this alternative to public school education help children whose parents aren't involved? Those are the kids who are falling behind from day one.
***Agreed again. I really think we're on the same wave length here. The cyber and charter schools are in no way an "easy" solution, but at least they are there for parents who do care about their children, and give other choices. Much of a persons perspective deals with the school district that they are dealing in, and some really are shortchanged, in my opinion.
somebody else

Emmaus, PA

#38 Jul 10, 2009
I disagree. I think this story actually could have us pointing fingers in the other direction. Perhaps the public school districts spend way too much or should I say....waste too much?
Following the rules wrote:
It's another case of charter schools wanting the money, but do not want to give any accountabilty
Common Sense

Fairport, NY

#39 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?
Right on...Public schools (and the public in general) shouldn't look at Charter Schools as the enemy, but should look at them as examples. Learn from what they do, and deliver the necessary special education services in a much more economical manner.

My argument would be that the state should cut per pupil special education reimbursements to all schools to the level that the Charter Schools are showing they can deliver at. These schools are an example of what's right with the system, not what is wrong with it!
somebody else

Emmaus, PA

#40 Jul 10, 2009
In my hunble opinion YOU BETHCA!!!!
Fred wrote:
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?
Bobby

Allentown, PA

#41 Jul 10, 2009
Face it...some Public Schools and some Charter Schools are good schools, and some Charter Schools and some Public Schools aren't so good. But, the accountability for all students MUST be the same for both types of schools.
Common Sense

Fairport, NY

#42 Jul 10, 2009
ABE-5980 wrote:
<quoted text>
I suspect that you do not fully understand the "protection" tenure gives a teacher. All that a teacher gains by receiving tenure is the right to a hearing in front of the school board before being fired, and the burden of proof shifts from teacher to school district. In other words, the district has to prove that the tenured teacher is NOT doing his job instead of an untenured teacher having to prove that he IS doing his job. It's really just what anybody accused of something in the country is guaranteed, a right to be heard and plead your case and the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty. Tenured teachers can be fired easily if the administration does its job and documents the charges well.
Abe, by equating a criminal trial to a job termination, you are making quite a leap in trying to play down the importance of tenure. "Having your case heard" and forcing "the employer to prove that the teacher is NOT doing their job" are not rights that the vast majority of employees in this country have.

Tenure is best contrasted with "at will employment", which is the situation that a vast majority of non-unionized private sector employees are in. These employees can be terminated at any time, for any (non-discriminatory) reason, such as budget cuts, unforseen changes in business patterns, poor performance, poor attitude, etc.

Tenured employees, however, must go through the process you described, which is far from easy. Yes - the extreme cases can be handled fairly easily, but the tenure system makes in an absolute nightmare to get rid of mediocre teachers, as well as those who are really bad, but know how to game the system.

It also makes reductions in force just about impossible, and restricts districts hiring when they have a short term need. Most districts decide that, faced with a temporary need for a teacher, they would rather go short for a year or two than create a new tenured positing that pretty much can never be eliminated.

Tenure, and the job security it provides, is a major benefit to the employee, and a major impediment to most school districts, even if you choose to downplay it.

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