89 posts categorized "Education Policy"

May 09, 2012

A big win in the battle against childhood obesity?

By Jessica Kelmon, Associate Editor

First, the sad news about America's childhood obesity epidemic: “Poor kids get fat for different reasons than rich kids, and they suffer from it more.”

That's the disheartening message from an LA Observed article by author Greg Critser, who’s written a handful of books about health and science. Critser argues that the biggest influence on children’s diet-related illnesses – diabetes, heart disease, hypertension – is not what they eat now, but their mother’s nutrition and health during pregnancy. In utero nutrition affects an infant’s ability to efficiently process sugars for life, Critser says. Childhood obesity begins before birth.

Equally dispiriting, it’s not that poor families lack access to healthy food. The less recognized but very acute issue is that their sources of income (everything from wages to food stamps and other forms of aid) can be so irregular. “Episodic income … ,” writes Critser “leads to an eat-as-much-as-you-can-now mentality that goes a long way to explaining why poor people are fat.” Suffering financial ups and downs makes families more likely to stretch their food dollars by buying more filling, starchy, and unhealthy foods putting kids' health, yet again, at risk.

Finally, there's soda, which Critser writes, “may also be the single most destructive element in the human diet.” From an evolutionary standpoint, he explains, we’re not equipped to process liquid calories other than breast milk. (Though this WebMD piece seems to negate his evidence, at least in part.)

I’ve written before that schools might be the wrong place to wage the war against childhood obesity, but Critser’s arguments and a promising new study have me rethinking my position. If Critser’s right about episodic income, then schools can be a more stable source of regular, nutritious meals. Soda and sugary drink bans at schools are at least a start.  

On this note, the encouraging news: a new study written up in a Washington Post blog today shows healthy school nutrition rules are making a positive difference. The study shows that California’s strict school nutrition standards (with fat content restrictions and calorie limits for school foods and yes, soda bans) are having the desired effect: Californian teens are eating an average of 158 fewer calories per day than teens in other states.

Researchers have previously estimated that, if children ate just 64 fewer calories each day, the obesity rate would fall 10 percent lower than where it stood in the mid-2000s,” writes WaPo blogger Sarah Kliff. So the 158 calorie reduction is significant – because unlike most school junk-food bans where kids end up eating the same bad foods but don’t get it from the school cafeteria or vending machine, the California state restrictions seem to be working.

If this positive trend continues, would you support California’s school nutrition standards being implemented nationwide?

April 22, 2012

Is this a joke?

By Jessica Kelmon, Associate Editor

For New York 8th graders and their teachers (both of whom will be measured against this and other potentially preposterous questions) it sure isn’t.

But perhaps that’s how it started: as a prank (or other statement) by an underpaid, disgruntled standardized test question writer.

Testing reading (in)comprehension

What I’m talking about are two reading comprehension questions based on an inane story loooooosely based on Aesop’s fable “The Tortoise and the Hare." In an article on the controversy over the reading prompt (which makes no sense), the New York Daily News quotes many a smart person and – remarkably – no one gives the answer. As an educated adult, I certainly can’t figure it out. But perhaps neither I nor anyone else was ever meant to.

A critique of high-stakes testing?

A while back, an education book written by a recovering standardized test writing and scoring professional landed on my shelf. It’s called Making the Grades, and author Todd Farley is candid about his former role in and his current loathing for the growing importance of these tests. The entire industry that’s popped up around writing and scoring tests – like the $32 million Pearson got for writing test questions like the possible joke in question (reprinted below, I promise – and no, I didn’t forget a decimal in that outrageous sum) - is “ludicrous,” Farley writes.

The self-described slacker who fell into a job writing test questions and scoring kids’ results (and sadly, helping to determine fates for kids and teachers far and wide) continues:

“If you knew what I knew, you’d agree: I have seen testing companies regularly forgo accuracy and ethics in the name of expediency and profit; I have seen psychometricians who barely speak the language making final decisions about our students’ understanding of English; I have seen hordes and hordes of mostly unemployed people being hired as temporary workers to give the scores that will ultimately decide the futures of our students, teachers, and schools.”

The craziest test question ever

So perhaps accuracy was forgone on this one – and maybe the person who wrote it just didn’t give a damn that day, was just trying to meet a quota, was making a statement about the inanity of standardized testing. Or maybe it’s a simple cut and paste error. Whatever it is, it’s not serving the kids or teachers of New York. So here’s the question – can you answer it? Like I said, I can’t.

The Pineapple and the Hare

In the olden times, animals could speak English, just like you and me. There was a lovely enchanted forest that flourished with a bunch of these magical animals. One day, a hare was relaxing by a tree. All of a sudden, he noticed a pineapple sitting near him.

The hare, being magical and all, told the pineapple, “Um, hi.” The pineapple could speak English too.

“I challenge you to a race! Whoever makes it across the forest and back first wins a ninja! And a lifetime’s supply of toothpaste!” The hare looked at the pineapple strangely, but agreed to the race.

The next day, the competition was coming into play. All the animals in the forest (but not the pineapples, for pineapples are immobile) arranged a finish/start line in between two trees. The coyote placed the pineapple in front of the starting line, and the hare was on his way.

Everyone on the sidelines was bustling about and chatting about the obvious prediction that the hare was going to claim the victory (and the ninja and the toothpaste). Suddenly, the crow had a revolutionary realization.

“AAAAIEEH! Friends! I have an idea to share! The pineapple has not challenged our good companion, the hare, to just a simple race! Surely the pineapple must know that he CANNOT MOVE! He obviously has a trick up his sleeve!” exclaimed the crow.

The moose spoke up.

“Pineapples don’t have sleeves.”

“You fool! You know what I mean! I think that the pineapple knows we’re cheering for the hare, so he is planning to pull a trick on us, so we look foolish when he wins! Let’s sink the pineapple’s intentions, and let’s cheer for the stupid fruit!” the crow passionately proclaimed. The other animals cheered, and started chanting, “FOIL THE PLAN! FOIL THE PLAN! FOIL THE PLAN!”

A few minutes later, the hare arrived. He got into place next to the pineapple, who sat there contently. The monkey blew the tree-bark whistle, and the race began! The hare took off, sprinting through the forest, and the pineapple ...

It sat there.

The animals glanced at each other blankly, and then started to realize how dumb they were. The pineapple did not have a trick up its sleeve. It wanted an honest race — but it knew it couldn’t walk (let alone run)!

About a few hours later, the hare came into sight again. It flew right across the finish line, still as fast as it was when it first took off. The hare had won, but the pineapple still sat at his starting point, and had not even budged.

The animals ate the pineapple.

Here are two of the questions:

1. Why did the animals eat the pineapple?
a. they were annoyed
b. they were amused
c. they were hungry
d. they wanted to

2. Who was the wisest?
a. the hare
b. moose
c. crow
d. owl

April 09, 2012

The dark and creepy world of "thinspiration"

Connie Matthiessen, Associate Editor

Before I take you into this warped universe, a warning: it's a bleak and frightening place to be. This online society is comprised of a variety of "thinspiration" (aka "thinspo") blogs and websites, and they're all slightly different, but all share a loathing for fat (even for a few extra pounds) and claim that their goal is to inspire people to lose weight. The sites feature admiring photos of emaciated women, and long lists of so called "mantras" (aka hectoring and often hackneyed advice) for becoming — and staying — thin.

Mythinspo, for example, includes a list of "Reasons not to eat," including:

"Starving is an example of excellent willpower."

"When you start to get dizzy and weak, you're almost there."

The site Skinnygossip offers a daily "Starving tip of the day." Here, starving is a good thing. Examples include:

  • "Think of your stomach pains in a whole new light. Your stomach doesn’t hurt because you are hungry, that burning feeling is fat melting off of you…."
  • "Learn to LOVE that empty feeling in your stomach. Trust me, you’ll feel disgusting when it starts filling up again."
  • "Pay close attention to other girl’s bodies. Pick them apart – try to find faults even with the best bodies. Then apply these high standards to yourself."
  • "Thinspo is your best friend. You think you’ve lost weight? Check out some fashion models or skinny celebrities online and you’ll realize that you can probably do better."

Some of the thinspo sites try to distance themselves from pro "ana" (anorexia) and "mia" (bulimia) websites, which frankly celebrate eating disorders. The blog, Proanalifestyle, for example, bears the slogan, "Anorexia is a lifestyle, not a disease, and offers "Thin Commandments" including these:

  • If you aren't thin, you aren't attractive;
  • Being thin is more important than being healthy;
  • Thou shall not eat fattening food withouat punishing afterwards; and
  • Being thin and not eating are signs of true will power and success

But all of these sites feature photos of pencil-thin models and celebrities, and lurid pictures of skeletal women — many of them scantily clad and provocatively posed, which give the sites a sleazy, voyeuristic quality. Most troubling of all, the thinspiration and pro-ana and mia sites all share an unchallenged assumption that appearance is all that matters in life. The authors of the sites (and, sadly, their readers, based on the comments) seem to consider looks — specifically a slender, model-thin body — the sole measure of an individual's worth.

It's tempting to dismiss this frightening world as just another bizarre online subculture — except that eating disorders are on the rise among children and adolescents, according to a 2010 report by the American Academy of Pediatrics. (Eating disorders are on the rise among older women as well).

And a CNN infographic, (based on research by the National Eating Disorders Association) points out that, from 1999 to 2006, the total number of eating-disorder related hospitalizations increased by 18 percent; among children younger than 12 years old, hospitilizations increased 119 percent. The infographic also reveals that 42 percent of first through third grade girls (yes — that’s ages 6 to 8!) say they want to be thinner.

There is also growing evidence that social media is playing a significant role in how girls view their bodies — and themselves. A recent study by the Center for Eating Disorders at Sheppard Pratt, for example, draws a link between Facebook use and negative body image.

On the website, Proud2Bme.org, which was launched by the National Eating Disorders Association to provide positive body image messages and support for teens, teenagers describe the connection between social media and negative body image in stark terms:

“When looking at images of girls in a magazine almost all of us know that they are altered electronically to appear perfect. When it comes to social media such as Facebook, most believe that they are looking at raw pictures, or ‘real girls.’ Whether this is true or not, they are ultimately used as a standard of comparison. –Mary

"People get positive attention in the world by losing weight. And you can do it to an even greater extent on Facebook.” --Anika, 18

“I think that social media platforms hurt because young people are now having their bodies judged online in addition to being judged in person, which causes them to feel trapped.” --Jen, 17

As awareness of the influence of social media on body image grows, popular social media sites like Tumblr, and Pinterest have taken steps to discourage "thinspo" content on their sites. (Although, as the Huffington Post points out, thinspo followers aren't going away — they're just migrating to different venues).

Discouraging thinspo content is a start, but I wish the "thinspiration" bloggers would clean up their act as well, or better yet, take their disturbing obsessions offline all together. Of course, eating disorders are the result of a complex host of factors; it's impossible to put all the blame on specific websites, or social media in general. But the thinspiration community is cheerleading a dangerous and growing epidemic, and I've seen the results in my own community. Over the last year alone, a friend's daughter was asked to leave her college because of chronic bulimia. Another teen I know, who’s always been funny and outspoken, has became pale and withdrawn, her spirit and teenage curves whittled away by anorexia. For a third girl, a bright, engaged high school sophomore, vomiting after meals has become part of her daily routine.

Every parent I know worries that her daughter may be next. My 13-year-old is conscious of her weight; she worries aloud about it on occasion and not long ago I found a note she'd written to herself and left on her dresser: "Don't eat after school!" But she has a strong community of friends, and many interests — including soccer, animals, art, reading, and writing, and I'm hoping that it is these passions — not the size of her waist or a number on a scale — that continue to comprise the measure of her self-worth.

I'd love to hear about your daughters and sons, and whether you see a link between social media and negative body image.

 

April 03, 2012

Is there an education bubble?

By Jessica Kelmon, Associate Editor

Remember when people debated the housing bubble? As a renter, it didn’t seem all that pertinent to me. Now we know that large-scale overvaluing, overconfidence, and under-evaluating touches us all. But when people (read: the media, 99% movement activists, and, famously, venture capitalist/entrepreneur Peter Thiel) talk about an education bubble, they’re comparing higher education to a free market system.

The concepts aren’t quite parallel in my mind, but a new infographic series by Education News makes a strong case for the analogy – and paints a scary picture of a system that’s out of control.

Do you see the parallel between high levels of mortgage borrowing to become homeowners and high levels of student borrowing to pay skyrocketing (up 439% in the past 30 years) college costs? And if so, do you think that it constitutes an education bubble that could pop? What might that mean: a significant drop in kids going to college, kids delaying college until they can pay cash rather than borrowing, a shortage of young qualified professionals, more trade schools?

With 20/20 hindsight, quite a few people probably wouldn’t have gone for the mortgages they did in ’05 - ’08. So if you’re a parent and you want your child to go to college, what, if anything, do you think we can or should do now (planning, saving, outsmarting the system, etc.) to best hedge our bets against an education bubble?

To see the full infographic, click here.

March 21, 2012

Is your child’s school a threat to national security?

By Jessica Kelmon, Associate Editor

Positive news this week about incrementally higher graduation rates was put in harsh perspective yesterday when Condoleezza Rice named our failures in education as a threat to national security. Rice is part of a task force on education and national security that released a scary report about how ill-prepared our students are – and the threat it poses to our national standing.

Part of the problem is that we’re not producing high school grads who can fill crucial posts in our military. According to the task force’s report published this month, the Department of Defense estimates that 75 percent of American youth are ineligible to serve in the military because they didn't graduate from high school, are obese, or have criminal records. And, of those who do graduate and might be eligible for the military, almost a third can’t pass the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery test.

But the list goes on, and it’s not just that kids aren’t finishing school – it’s that they’re not learning enough even if they do:

  • Only about 25% of U.S. students test proficient or better in civics.
  • About eight out of ten Americans speak only English (and fewer and fewer schools teach foreign languages).
  • A recent report by ACT found that only 22 percent of our high school students are "college ready" in all core subjects.

And, in case you’re thinking ‘well, it’s not my kid – my kid’s going to college’:

  • Even among seniors headed to college, the College Board reported that only 43 percent meet college-ready standards.

No matter what your stance on the military and national defense, the uncomfortable reality is that this isn’t just about our armed forces, we need Americans to fill crucial roles in government, intelligence, and foreign service. To this end, former Secretary of State Rice told Charlie Rose yesterday, "national security is much broader than what you can do with your military forces - but of course, even there we are falling short." The report synopsis tidily touches on five areas where our education system is failing to prepare students in ways that affect national security, they are: economic growth and competitiveness, physical safety, intellectual property, U.S. global awareness, and U.S. unity and cohesion.

Obviously, this is a national issue, and better education funding and prioritizing education as a cultural value would be crucial steps in the right direction. The task force supports expanding the Common Core Standards to encompass more subjects than just English and math as an effort to standardize what kids are learning (and raise the learning curve). But if and when such reforms will be adopted is up in the air (and it's hard to be optimistic that they'll happen any time soon, given the current budget-cutting climate).

But we don't have to wait around and hope for the best. If language programs at our schools have been cut, for example, we can work with other parents to push for their reinstatement, or, if that doesn't work, look for affordable programs outside of school. We can teach civic awareness at home around the dinner table. And we can take advantage of museums, libraries, and daily teaching moments to get kids used to learning outside the classroom, too. What else can parents do – right here, right now – to help their kids be educated, prepared, and competitive? What, if anything, are you doing?

March 15, 2012

GreatSchools investor and partner day

By Bill Jackson, CEOGS-81

Last Friday, we held our first-ever GreatSchools Investor and Partner Day in San Francisco. Thirty guests joined 10 of our staff members to explore ideas about how we can improve our services for parents. The conversation was wide-ranging and stimulating.

Some of the most interesting discussion focused on how we can better help parents and students explore school quality from different angles, including:

  • How much diversity does a given school have and how might families who attend that school benefit from that diversity?
  • What is the culture and climate of a given school? How do students and teachers treat each other?
  • How can we help families and schools find their proper match? Some schools are good for a certain type of child but not so good for other types. How can we help families understand these kinds of subtleties?

The guests shared their personal experiences and professional insights and challenged us to "raise the bar" and provide more and more value to parents.

GS-24Happily, with the support of the Walton Family Foundation, we are busy tackling these and other similar challenges. We took an important step this past week with the release of our Official School Profile, a new way for school principals to share in-depth information about the programs and culture at their school (see examples here and here). Stay tuned for many more announcements before the year is out.

What do you think are the top school information opportunities and challenges GreatSchools should work on? How would you like to see our school profiles improve? I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

March 14, 2012

Should kids treat school as their job? One new school takes this metaphor to a whole new level.

By Jessica Kelmon, Associate Editor

"We each have a role in our family," my dad told me repeatedly growing up. Mine was to do well in school. It was my "job" to listen, respect the teacher, ask questions, and do all of the work assigned. So when I read that same attitude quoted by a 15-year-old sophomore in yesterday’s Mind Shift article "At Flex Academy, high school mimics the workplace," it didn’t seem strange. The rest of the school’s setup, however, is a bit of a shock.

All 165 students experience this new hybrid high school the way many adults experience a 9 to 5 job: they sit in cubicles, use email to schedule time with the teacher, and log in each day to see what their meeting schedules look like. Each semester, kids take four core classes (math, English, science, and history) and one elective – and they take all of these courses online via K12, a for-profit education company. Their school is in an old building just off Union Square in downtown San Francisco. People work here; streets are uber-busy and lined with honking cabs (not trees) and panhandlers work the sidewalk. It’s the concrete jungle, not exactly a kid-friendly environment. Many an urban school faces similar challenges on the outside, of course. But what of the work environment inside?

There’s no grade segregation, so many students say they don’t know what grade their peers are in. If they have a question, kids are likely to stroll over to a peer’s cube to ask a question. The teacher tracks progress using on online system that’s like a master schedule, and is there all day, every day to help students with their work in a way that seems like a work supervisor. There are no extracurricular activities like teams or clubs, nor are there hands-on learning projects. Kids arrive, log in to learn, and finish their day of classes by 3:15 pm.

The English teacher quoted says teaching at Flex Academy isn’t all that different from the public school she taught at before, but I have trouble picturing that. And for all that I find shocking, the school’s workaday structure is all by design. As the school’s founder and CEO Mark Kushner told MindShift:

"'What do you do when you have a problem with a project at work? You seek out your colleagues or your boss and you work through it,' he said. 'That’s what these students do here.'"

What’s more, they’re growing: they just opened a new school in Silicon Valley.

Despite my being told that school was my job, it was still school – with brightly colored displays in classrooms, teachers who lectured and gave assignments, and lots of social time with friends and classmates not only to collaborate on school work, but also to socialize in different environments (like clubs, sports, and in the quad). But what happens when we strip out the extras – the physicality, the social interactions, the extracurriculars – and leave only the work? It hardly seems like school any more.

February 29, 2012

Are preschoolers too young to be labeled "gifted"?

By Jessica Kelmon, Associate Editor

I've always been amused by the response to Babycenter's mega-popular poll "Do you think your child is academically gifted?" Of the nearly 50,000 parents who’ve voted, 71 percent claim to have a gifted child. And another 19 percent say they aren’t sure – but their little smartypants probably is, too.

Jokes aside, gifted and talented education is important – and schools need resources and curricula to meet the needs of all kids, whether they’re ahead or behind. So I applaud the move, reported in the Washington Post Local this week, by the Maryland State Board of Education to push local schools to identify gifted children and design programs to meet their needs. Even in districts where it’s nothing but cuts, cuts, and more cuts, differentiated learning should be prioritized to keep kids challenged and engaged in learning. And who better to lead the way than the award-winning Maryland Dept. of Education, which has been named #1 in public education for four years straight by Education Week and College Board?

But that’s not where the real controversy lies: under this proposal, kids may start to be identified as “gifted” as early as age 3.

In fairness, advocates say kids this young won’t be tracked or labeled, merely observed. Jeanne Paynter, a specialist for gifted education for Maryland’s education department, was quoted as saying: “This is the process of observing students, just like we do for students with disabilities. We’re asking systems to consider students’ abilities.”

The new policy sounds fair enough, but the counter-argument, voiced by a Montgomery County group, is that it risks exacerbating the achievement gap – that is, that young kids not identified as gifted will be black, Hispanic, and English language learners.

Sadly, that possibility rings all too true.

It's especially scary since such a label may cause a great divide between students when no actual divide exists. In the 2009 hit Nurture Shock, authors Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman came out strongly against testing the preK set for giftedness. Their catchy claim: preK test results for aptitude and giftedness are wrong “73% of the time.” Why? Because young minds are still growing and not fully formed – and the tests at this early age don’t reliably measure squat. Bronson and Merryman quote Dr. Donald Rock, a research scientist for the Educational Testing Service, who says testing even in second grade is questionable. Third grade, he says, is when test results become meaningful. “Testing younger than that, you’re getting kids with good backgrounds, essentially,” Rock said.

So perhaps Maryland could lead the nation by refraining from testing, labeling, or even observing signs of giftedness until third grade. It seems like the right thing to do.

February 24, 2012

Playing the shame game: should the New York Times publish teacher data?

by Carol Lloyd

Executive Editor

Any hour now the New York Times is supposed to publish the "value-added" data on 12,000 New York City public school teachers following a court ruling yesterday ordering the Department of Education to release the scores.

In the world of education politics, there's not much everyone agrees on. The teacher's union goes to the ends of the earth to protect teachers (even bad ones sometimes), while the scorched earth reformers like Michelle Rhee have made it their stock in trade to blame incompetent, negligent teachers for ruining our schools and damaging the lives of our school children one ill-planned lesson at a time.

But the plan to release the names of thousands of New York City's teachers - and how much they did or did not raise student test scores - has created some odd moments of assonance.  Yesterday Bill Gates, who has spent millions of dollars to investigate teacher effectiveness and improve the teacher evaluation process, wrote an editorial in the New York Times arguing that shaming teachers would do more harm than good. GothamSchools explained why they would not be publishing teacher data with names attached: the statistics don't stand up to scrutiny - with margins of error that you could drive a truck through. Ed reform blogger Alexander Russo quotes Teach for America's Wendy Kopp and a spokesperson from Michelle Rhee's StudentsFirst speaking out against publishing teacher's names attached to their data.  

It's not the first time teachers have been forced to wear the scarlet number of value-added scores. In 2010 the Los Angeles Times published similar data for all public school teachers in Los Angeles Unified School District. Soon after that public shaming, one teacher who had been among those who felt demoralized by the airing of his low scores committed suicide.

Ostensibly publishing these scores should serve the public: people whose children attend our public schools. Do you want access to such information about your child's teacher?  Even if it might be wildly inaccurate? And if you object to the publishing of such information, would you refrain from using it to get insights about your child's teacher?   

Therein lies the rub. No matter how misleading I'm told the data is, I can imagine circumstances in which I'd take a peek. In fact, my kids have had teacher where I definitely would've looked. In those cases, I would've been too curious to keep from probing further than I really think is fair or right. In this era where data transparency is extolled as the highest virtue, it's worth remembering that sometimes it only exposes the worst in us. 

February 15, 2012

Charter schools fine students: Those chips are gonna cost you, mister!

By Jessica Kelmon, Associate Editor

How are charter schools different, you ask? They are public schools that get district money on a per-pupil basis but operate outside of district oversight. That means charter schools can design school policies that are distinctly different from traditional public schools. But what does that really mean?

It means punishments can be eye-popping, over-the-top – and even downright bizarre. Case in point: Noble charter schools in Chicago, where students are fined for behavioral infractions. At Noble schools, for instance, a high schooler who brings chips to school could be fined $5, as could a student who fails to make eye contact with a teacher. More examples: not tying shoes and running a pencil along the side of a desk. Students with multiple infractions are required to take – and pay for ­­– a $140 summertime class to learn how to improve their behavior.

Reports this week as a result of FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) requests by outraged student, parent, and community groups reveal that during the 2010-2011 school year, Noble’s 10 high schools earned a tidy $188,647 in fines from students. And since the 2008-2009 school year, they’ve collected almost $400,000.

From students. In fines.

Charter schools are known for strict policies. Many schools have uniforms – many others enforce dress codes. Some charter school, like the KIPP Charter Management Organization (CMO), are big on citizenship, with New York City schools issuing character report cards for traits like self-control, gratitude, and social intelligence. So against that backdrop, perhaps the Chicago CMO’s decision to fine students isn’t so surprising.

For all the outrage and the snickering that a fine for potato chips can (and does) elicit, there might be something to this. The article quotes Noble’s CEO, Michael Milkie, who confirmed the sums and said these large fees cover only part of the cost of detention. That argument I find not just weak, but lame. After all, student discipline has always been part of education – and making a buck here and there from student offenders just seems lazy – and greedy.

But Milkie had another, more interesting justification for the fines: “Many well-behaved students do not have a good learning environment in their high schools as their education is compromised by disruptive students. … In addition, their education dollars are diverted to addressing the improper behavior of those disruptive students. Noble has changed that inequity by asking misbehaving students to share in the cost of addressing their behavior.”

Now that’s an interesting way to look at it. It’s different, it’s unorthodox, but hey – isn’t that what charter schools are all about – improving education using new and untraditional methods?

On the heels of this report, the AP released a story (embedded below) about a charter school in Cincinnati that teamed up with Easter Seals and private donors to pay students to attend school regularly. This charter is a “drop-out recovery” school, and even though the payouts are small – $25 for a senior who attends school on time all week, and $10 for underclassmen who do the same – the principal says the brand-new program is already working.  Watch here:

What do you think of these charter schools’ discipline and incentive methods – shocking or smart?

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