I found this slide deck on the web and thought it hilarious, because if there’s one thing you see a lot of in public education politics, it’s standardized test scores and statistics.
I guess the reason I found it so funny is because, well, it’s actually trying to be funny, but also because it gave me one of those, “Oh yeah, DUH!” epiphanies. Like when someone explains something simple that you’ve always known, but didn’t grok at a fundamental level until someone else spoke it and the words actually hit your ears. Hey, it happens!
In this case, it was the slides on how biases in your data corrupt any statistical analysis.
More to the point, if you sample a large population but the sample isn’t sufficiently randomized or representative of the total, you can’t run stats on the sample and say anything at all about the total population.
I’ve written before about SCCBOE’s October 2013 Charter Schools Study Workshop. I don’t remember seeing a meeting agenda. The discussion focused mostly on each of the SCCBOE members’ personal view of the role of SCCOE/SCCBOE vis-a-vis charters.
It’s not news to a frequent reader that I believe charter schools have always been intended as special remedies for traditional public schools or districts that suffer from intractable shortcomings and deprive students of a quality education.
The stated legislative objectives of the CA Charter Schools Act of 1992 never included establishment of a parallel system of quasi-private voucher schools operated under the aegis of ‘public education.’ It didn’t intend for charters to attack, undermine or replace California’s traditional school districts, yet sitting members of SCCBOE clearly feel it’s their duty to impose an aggressive pro-charter political agenda on our local districts.
When I listened to this audio recording from the meeting I was surprised by some of what I heard from each member. Here’s SCCBOE President Leon Beauchman’s quote regarding new charter petitions from the Oct. 2013 Charter Schools Study Workshop:
Former Santa Clara County Schools Superintendent Charles Weis (left) was relieved of duty when Xavier De La Torre (right) was hired as his replacement in June 2012. Weis had his share of problems at SCCOE (and at his previous gig), some of which are chronicled here.
De La Torre came to SCCOE after a three year stint as Superintendent of Socorro Independent School District in El Paso, Texas. At their April 3, 2013 meeting, less than a year after landing at SCCOE, De La Torre presented a ‘white paper‘ to the County Board developed in conjunction with CSCA. It’s an overview of the charter school landscape in Santa Clara County, with typical demographic stats and standardized test scores for each of the county’s charters.
What I found most interesting were the Superintendent’s recommendations:
I caught up with a friend recently over a beer, we spent a good amount of time discussing a topic we share an interest in: California Charter Law. (I know… *YAWN*)
Here in California, we’ve been experimenting on public school students for more than 20 years using Charter Law, so maybe it’s time to take stock of where things stand.
Maybe it’s time to rein in the mavericks, to return law and order to this wild west.