Academic journal article Phi Delta Kappan

Enhancing Quality through Distributed Education

Academic journal article Phi Delta Kappan

Enhancing Quality through Distributed Education

Article excerpt

ALAN T. SEAGREN is a professor in the Department of Educational Administration, of the Center for the Study of Higher and Postsecondary Education at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. He was involved in the development of the Distributed Doctoral Program and has taught several on-line graduate courses. SHELDON L. STICK is a professor in the Department of Educational Administration, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, and works with graduate students majoring in higher education and leadership through the Distributed Doctoral Program.

Concerned About For-Profit

Charter Schools

Thank you for publishing "For-Profit Charter Schools and Students with Disabilities: The Sordid Side of the Business of Schooling," by Nancy Zollers and Arun Ramanathan (December). As the Kappan has pointed out previously, public education receives little positive attention from the media and always receives attention for its failings. In Massachusetts, charter schools receive enormous attention just for existing, yet they were barely mentioned in the recent round of test results, which showed that their students did not perform particularly well in many cases. We at the Massachusetts Federation of Teachers are dismissed when we critique charter schools because we are "the union." But we remain concerned about the cost implications of charter schools over the long term, about the lack of objective evaluations of these schools, and about the lack of oversight by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Your journal legitimized all our concerns and made clear - once again - what many of us already knew about the problems in the for-profit segment of the charter school movement. We are glad to see that it is not just the unions that understand the complications. - Kathleen A. Kelley, president, Massachusetts Federation of Teachers, Boston.

The Untold Story

You are to be commended for publishing the recent study of for-profit charter schools in Massachusetts, by Nancy Zollers and Arun Ramanathan (December). Our coalition of more than 40 groups that support public education and education reform has communicated to public oversight agencies about loopholes in Massachusetts regulations and oversight of charter schools. We are concerned about the large number of charter schools in Massachusetts that are run by for- profit companies. We are also concerned that the administrative office that is supposed to facilitate new charter schools and monitor existing ones acts as a cheerleader for charter schools while neglecting its evaluation and monitoring roles. For some time, our attempts to publicize the type of information you have published have fallen on deaf ears. The popular press promotes charter schools in much the same way that our current political and educational leaders have done.

There are serious problems in our system of funding commonwealth charter schools, and most of them have been documented by Zollers and Ramanathan. In the next fiscal year, more than $100 million of public money in Massachusetts will be going to these schools. This article is very important if the citizens of the commonwealth are to understand where and how their tax dollars are being spent.

James Peyser, the new chair of the Massachusetts Board of Education - K-12 public education - is an outspoken proponent of privatization. As an advisor to the governor, he helped create the funding formula that gives charter schools a disproportionate share of school funds and hurts local communities. We appreciate the December Kappan for telling the untold story of the for-profit plunge into public education. - Marilyn Segal, Citizens for Public Schools, Boston.

Concerned About

Misconceptions

As one of Gerald Bracey's fans and a longtime supporter of the "inquiry method" of education, let me begin by saying that I really enjoyed the piece in his December Research column titled "Minds of Our Own. …

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