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Old 03-09-2010, 08:09 PM
 
4,793 posts, read 6,270,038 times
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Would/could anyone out there with experience teaching in charter schools speak on the experience. The push is on here in Alabama to establish charter's and I would like to know the good, the bad, and the ugly about this form of education. The school I currently teach in, will most likely be the first in our area to convert. I'm interested in what changes will be involved for teachers.

Here are just a few of my questions:
1. If your school goes charter do you still work for your local school
district?
2. Do you lose your tenure or does tenure apply in charter schools.
3. What type of changes should we as teachers be prepared for?

Thanks in advance for any information imparted.
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Old 03-09-2010, 08:37 PM
 
Location: Whoville....
25,387 posts, read 31,362,472 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hey teach View Post
Would/could anyone out there with experience teaching in charter schools speak on the experience. The push is on here in Alabama to establish charter's and I would like to know the good, the bad, and the ugly about this form of education. The school I currently teach in, will most likely be the first in our area to convert. I'm interested in what changes will be involved for teachers.

Here are just a few of my questions:
1. If your school goes charter do you still work for your local school
district?
2. Do you lose your tenure or does tenure apply in charter schools.
3. What type of changes should we as teachers be prepared for?

Thanks in advance for any information imparted.
What is your school changing from? I'm in Michigan and I've only ever seen private schools go charter. Districts have gone to school of choice but they keep everything the same and just let in more students.

Here the issues for teachers in charter schools are the same for teachers in private schools. Lousy pay, no retirement plan, lousy benefits, no job security and no one to go to bat for you if they want to stick 36 students in classrooms too small for 24.

For the parents, charter schools mean options. Charters here tend to be worse than the district in which they are located but they draw their students from even worse districts. Compared to their feeder districts, they seem to do better.
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Old 03-09-2010, 08:41 PM
 
4,793 posts, read 6,270,038 times
Reputation: 9808
It is being presented that public schools that are low performing and continue to fail to meet AYP will be the first to be converted to charter schools. Our governor seems to desire to eliminate all public schools and be totally charter.
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Old 03-10-2010, 03:21 PM
 
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I have taught for three years in a charter school that was converted four years ago. Charter schools can differ in type, depending on whether they are conversion charters or newly created. In Louisiana, some charter schools are managed by the state takeover programs for low performing schools. Other charter schools are still part of the local school district. We also have charters that are managed directly by the state-- such charters generally are open to studnets from across parish (county) lines.

Many of the changes that you would experience would depend on how the school writes the original charter. There is no tenure system at most charter schools-- by their nature, charter schools pride themselves on local management, so the district gives them much more latitude in hiring and firing. Unfortunately, our teachers lost their sick and vacation days, also, and some benefits (but not retirement benefits.)

Despite this, most teachers (by a lot) still voted to go charter (at that time, schools needed a majority vote of existing staff to apply as a charter school). The loss of benefits can be offset by more local control and voice over things like curriculum, spending, disciplinary procedures, etc. Obviously, you need some faith in your administration to listen to the teachers and make good decisions that support the needs of the particular school.

Like most things in life, sometimes it is the same things that can be good and bad. More autonomy can be a real positive, but it can make you subject to whims of educational practice. I like that we have the flexibility to change things that aren't working, but we have changed some procedures multiple times in the last few years and it is difficult to keep track of all the changes.

Charters can often cap their enrollments, so there is not as much a problem with overcorwding. But charters do not always have access to district resources, so providing all of the services can be cost prohibitive. That is part of the reason that charters have a rep for not being as accessible by students with special needs.

Our principal reminds us constantly that many charters fail-- often due to improperly managed finances or improper record keeping. In our state, charters have a five year term. Charter renewal is definitely not automatic and schools have to show accountability for improvement goals. Being slack on paperwork is a quick way to get in a heap of trouble at a charter school, because schools can lose their charter without it. All of that focus on paperwork and legal hoop jumping does mean that administrators do not always have time/resources to support teachers, at least not so well in the first few years. But I think that many teachers like to think that their efforts make a difference, and at a charter school, you are more likely to see where all those papers go!

Because there are more hoops to get kids into a charter school, the parent involvement is better than at most regular public schools. Parent involvement does not always equal teacher support, of course. So, you may have more conflict-- which, in my opinion, is not always bad.

If chaos is your biggest stress about schools, then working at a charter could be challenging. If apathy is your biggest stress, you'll probably enjoy it!
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