The board was copied on the following letter via email today:
I’m writing in response to your recent communication about the Dell Foundation grant. As a DPS parent, I’m staunchly against the privatization and corporatism of schools. The aim of the Dell Foundation grants is to privatize public assets. In your letter, you state, “Research is clear that a high-quality principal is critical to school success”. This is true. But, you also know that there is no evidence that charter schools are higher quality than traditional school. The Stanford study on charter school performance showed there is no quality difference between charter schools and tradition school. In fact, charter schools performed slightly worst. A quick look at the performance of DPS schools for last year clearly shows that charter schools were some of the poorest performing schools in the district.
To limit the principal one-year residency to only charter schools is simply pandering to the money interests behind charter school. It is nothing short of moving public assets to private, corporate control. This transition of public assets to corporate control must stop. The control needs to remain squarely with the parents and community. No matter how much you try to dress up charter schools as helping kids, the fact remains that’s about corporations snapping up public money.
Superintendent Tom Boasberg’s email to the community is here.
And my response? First, let the data about DSST, for example, speak for itself:
Class of 2011 – DSST Stapleton
9th grade – 140 students
10th grade – 127 students
11th grade – 100
12th grade – 102
# Students eligible for graduation: 90
Graduation rate: 88%
DSST Stapleton claims an 88% graduation rate even though there is an overall student attrition rate of 28% from 9th grade to 12th grade. Therefore, the adjusted graduation rate is more like 64%.
Consider that Kennedy High has an 80% graduation rate.
Consider as well that the CSAP (called the TCAP this year) is not taken after 10th grade. That’s when the data indicates that DSST’s population stabilizes.
I also responded:
This grant was sought without the approval of the democratically-elected board that is responsible for making such broad policy changes as these. In fact, this grant will likely cause greater spending than our district can truly afford as a result of the consultants and infrastructure we will have to create to support its weight. It has happened before with other grants of this nature.
So, is a well-timed student attrition rate part of what we’ll be teaching public school principals to manage, all funded by the Dell Foundation grant? Are these the “best practices” referred to in the district’s press release?
Hopefully the board will get some information in retrospect.