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Tech Billionaire-Backed Charter School Under Fire In Chicago

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the at-least-the-old-system-was-perfect dept.

Education 326

theodp writes "'As a nonprofit venture philanthropy firm,' boasts the billionaire-backed NewSchools Venture Fund, 'we raise philanthropic capital from both individual and institutional investors, and then use those funds to support education entrepreneurs who are transforming public education.' One recipient of the NewSchools' largesse is The Noble Network of Charter Schools, which received a $5,300,000 NewSchools 'investment', as well as a $1,425,000 grant from NewSchools donor Bill Gates. One way that Noble Street College Prep has been transforming education, reports the Chicago Tribune, is by making students pay the price — literally — for breaking the smallest of rules (sample infractions). Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel defended Noble after a FOIA filing revealed the charter collected almost $190,000 in discipline 'fees' — not 'fines' — last year from its mostly low-income students, saying the ironically exempt-from-most-district-rules charter school gets 'incredible' results and parents don't have to send their children there. Beyond the Noble case, some are asking a bigger question: Should billionaires rule our schools?"

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326 comments

Of course the rich should give to charity (5, Informative)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 2 years ago | (#39110299)

Should billionaires rule our schools?

No, but I don't think they are (well, at least no more than they rule everything else). The summary makes two HUGE jumps here. It starts by saying that the NewSchools Venture Fund is giving grants to charter schools. Then it attempts to smear the very idea by criticizing one particular practice of one particular group of charter schools in Chicago. Then it makes an even bigger jump by equating this with billionaires "ruling" our schools (as if individual donors to this fund created this one controversial policy, or even had any idea that it existed). I think that whoever wrote this summary is being unfairly critical of charter schools, and even more unfair to those rich donors who are actually *trying* to help (as opposed to those who just hoard their money and or just their wealth to buy new Ferraris).

In an era where the rich are able to get by paying so few taxes in the U.S., I think that those who still CHOOSE to help our ailing schools should be praised, not chastised, for the policies of one particular charter school (and I don't even find their policy that egregious in the first place). It's nice to know that not *all* rich people are just greedy pricks who would say "fuck all" to the poor.

Ideally, the U.S. would have a system where this kind of charity isn't necessary in the first place. But until that day, I don't think we should turn away any help just because it comes from Bill Gates.

Re:Of course the rich should give to charity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39110465)

"I think that those who still CHOOSE to help our ailing schools should be praised, not chastised"

It's questionable whether running schools like a business is helpful.

"It's nice to know that not *all* rich people are just greedy pricks.."

You think they don't make a profit off of these charter schools?

Re:Of course the rich should give to charity (5, Interesting)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 2 years ago | (#39110651)

It's questionable whether running schools like a business is helpful.

That's true, but most of the areas where these charter schools are being implemented are neighborhoods where the existing public school system has been an abysmal failure in the past. A debate over how to best change the existing system may be warranted, but it is unquestionably clear that the existing system MUST be changed. And with teacher's unions and political interests strongly invested in the existing system, sometimes charter schools are pretty much the only option for any change.

Ideally, you wouldn't need that. A principal could just go into a failing school, fire all the bad teachers, hire better ones, and make the changes needed to make a better school. But under the existing system in many of these districts, you simply can't do that.

You think they don't make a profit off of these charter schools?

Well, the NewSchools Venture Fund certainly doesn't. AFAIK they're a non-profit and give grants, not loans.

Re:Of course the rich should give to charity (3, Insightful)

Defenestrar (1773808) | more than 2 years ago | (#39110949)

You think they don't make a profit off of these charter schools?

Well, the NewSchools Venture Fund certainly doesn't. AFAIK they're a non-profit and give grants, not loans.

You made some good points. In the area of these additional charges, I'd just like to add that these "fees" may drive parent interaction with their children more than the mere inconvenience of arranging backup transportation (in a public transit rich area). A parent's responsibility doesn't end with food and shelter, but by and far most seem to completely abdicate responsibility for education to the state. I assume that the parents in this case are already marginally involved in their children's education as a charter school is involved, that at least should be applauded. This may mean that these parents will be even more encouraged to intercede with the education process as they will want to make sure the school does not become unaffordable through payment of the additional detention services.

Re:Of course the rich should give to charity (1)

Moheeheeko (1682914) | more than 2 years ago | (#39111179)

I think the "fees" make following the rules something that they will actually do. Most of the rich little shits I know that go to charter schools just wave their money around and do what they please. Getting sent to the principal means nothing to them, getting their checkbook sent means a whole lot.

Re:Of course the rich should give to charity (2)

iamhassi (659463) | more than 2 years ago | (#39111543)

I think the "fees" make following the rules something that they will actually do. Most of the rich little shits I know that go to charter schools just wave their money around and do what they please. Getting sent to the principal means nothing to them, getting their checkbook sent means a whole lot.

Also the "fees" are nothing: $5 for chewing gum? $5 for being tardy to class more than 3 minutes? [suntimes.com] Completely worth $5, and isn't this more like real life? You're not automatically thrown in jail for minor infractions when you become an adult, the system nickels and dimes you to death. Speeding? $200. Red light camera? $100. etc

Re:Of course the rich should give to charity (1)

fezzzz (1774514) | more than 2 years ago | (#39110475)

Bill Gates is working hard to create a very efficient school system where the good teachers are rewarded. As seen in a recent TED talk, head masters require an appointment to visit a teacher's class and may not demand to sit in more than one day a year. Without transparency there is no incentive for a teacher to become better at teaching. They are busy changing this.

Re:Of course the rich should give to charity (5, Insightful)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 2 years ago | (#39110525)

Yeah... and I don't know if I trust "billionaires", but I don't know if I trust City Hall a whole lot more, either. Especially when the existing teachers unions are making campaign contributions.

Re:Of course the rich should give to charity (3, Insightful)

ArsonSmith (13997) | more than 2 years ago | (#39111121)

Exactly. Billionaire/corporate greed is easy to understand, rooted in money. Political greed is the scary one. Rooted in the domination and megalomania of ruling over other people because they are smaller than me and I know better than them.

Re:Of course the rich should give to charity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39111567)

You're worried about the teacher's unions?

Try the school book publishing industry. Try the grounds maintenance companies. There's a lot of problems with politics.

Re:Of course the rich should give to charity (2, Insightful)

ultranova (717540) | more than 2 years ago | (#39110589)

In an era where the rich are able to get by paying so few taxes in the U.S., I think that those who still CHOOSE to help our ailing schools should be praised, not chastised, for the policies of one particular charter school (and I don't even find their policy that egregious in the first place).

So you're fine with private organizations imposing fines on a whim? And that a school teaches its students to submit to such arbitrary authority?

And the rich pay less than their fair share of taxes because they have used the power their riches bring to bring it about. They deserve no more praise than a mugger who calls an ambulance for his victim would.

It's nice to know that not *all* rich people are just greedy pricks who would say "fuck all" to the poor.

The rich are like politicians or lawyers: there might be a few who are honest or even decent, but as a group, they have earned their reputation.

Re:Of course the rich should give to charity (1)

Zerth (26112) | more than 2 years ago | (#39110873)

So you're fine with private organizations imposing fines on a whim?

Ever park in a pay lot?

And that a school teaches its students to submit to such arbitrary authority?

Pretty much every regular school does, why give this one shit about it?

Re:Of course the rich should give to charity (1)

LordLimecat (1103839) | more than 2 years ago | (#39111405)

Ever park in a pay lot?

Thats not a fine, its a business transaction: you are paying for a service.

How is this all relevant again?

Re:Of course the rich should give to charity (4, Insightful)

DrgnDancer (137700) | more than 2 years ago | (#39110907)

So you're fine with private organizations imposing fines on a whim? And that a school teaches its students to submit to such arbitrary authority?

They're not imposing fines on a whim. You sent your kids to their school, their rules were agreed to. I disagree with some of the rules (they get fined for hot chips? really?), but if I chose to send my kids to that school, I chose to make it so that every bag of chips my kid brings is expensive. Any organization can impose fees and fines on member who agree to abide by certain rules. You can avoid those fees and fines by severing your affiliation with the group. In this case by enrolling your kid in a normal public school.

And the rich pay less than their fair share of taxes because they have used the power their riches bring to bring it about. They deserve no more praise than a mugger who calls an ambulance for his victim would.

You're making several assumptions here. The first and most important is that every rich person agrees with what every other rich person does. Let's say you and I are both billionaires. I spend a lot of money lobbying to make sure that the fourth jet purchased by any single person is tax deductible. You buy a fourth jet and your accountant deducts it from this year's taxes. Does that make you culpable? Maybe in some ways, but in all probability you didn't even know the damned thing was deductible when you bought it. You might have been perfectly fine just paying the extra taxes. Warren Buffet has been rather vocal that he feels he should be paying more taxes than he is. Does that make him culpable for a tax rate he didn't have anything to do with setting?

The rich are like politicians or lawyers: there might be a few who are honest or even decent, but as a group, they have earned their reputation.

But again, does that mean we shouldn't reward positive behavior? Maybe if enough rich people receive enough positive feedback, more of them will be more willing to help. Even one billionaire parting with even 5% of his/her fortune is able to make more of a difference than I could if I gave away everything I ever made.

Re:Of course the rich should give to charity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39110915)

Ultranova will obviously never be rich.

just wow (3, Insightful)

luis_a_espinal (1810296) | more than 2 years ago | (#39110977)

So you're fine with private organizations imposing fines on a whim?

It is troubling that we have to get to this to impose discipline, and it sure raises a few eyebrows. But on a whim? They aren't. These are infractions. Yes, not having your shirt buttoned or chewing gum, those are behavioral infractions. Fining over them can be argued to be questionable, but flagging these kind of things as infractions is perfectly reasonable. You need to get off your cornbread boundaries and visit other countries with more successful education systems than ours - wearing a proper school uniform is typically one of their common features. There are many reasons why this is so, and it is not rocket science why it works and why it is necessary.

And that a school teaches its students to submit to such arbitrary authority?

It's called discipline, something that apparently you were never exposed to during your primary and secondary education.

Re:just wow (1)

unami (1042872) | more than 2 years ago | (#39111589)

no, wearing a school uniform is not a common feature in countries with a more successful education system. just take a look at the scandinavian countries (which arguably have one of the best school systems in the world). uniforms are a sign of totalitarianism - like rules concerning carrying hot chips or red bull or having a "school police".

Re:Of course the rich should give to charity (1)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 2 years ago | (#39110799)

It will be a great day when our schools get all the money they need and the air force has to hold a bake sale to buy a bomber. -Robert Fulghum

Re:Of course the rich should give to charity (2, Insightful)

arpad1 (458649) | more than 2 years ago | (#39111127)

Fortunately, that day will never come.

It's impossible to "fully fund" public education because however much funding public education gets the result will be that it's not enough. The proof is in this question: how much money constitutes "all the money they need"?

The answer, never given explicitly, is always "more".

Re:Of course the rich should give to charity (2, Insightful)

Orne (144925) | more than 2 years ago | (#39110815)

> In an era where the rich are able to get by paying so few taxes in the U.S., ...

What, as opposed to the 47% of citizens that now net zero federal taxes [nytimes.com] at all? That the top 1% already pays 40% of the national tax burden? I'm not in either group, but even I can see that's not exactly "fair"...

Re:Of course the rich should give to charity (1)

LordLimecat (1103839) | more than 2 years ago | (#39111373)

Then it makes an even bigger jump by equating this with billionaires "ruling" our schools (as if individual donors to this fund created this one controversial policy, or even had any idea that it existed).

And then it attempts to act as if the financial status of someone has any relevance when evaluating the worth of a school, or their ability to run it.

If Bill Gates opened up a university that started churning out top-notch MBAs who by and large ended up successful entrepeneurs, who the heck cares that Gates himself is successful?

Class warfare indeed: Aparently where it was once the practice to discriminate on other inherent characteristics, we have moved beyond that kind of prejudice to one based on someone's income, all other factors be damned.

Attacks on public education (1)

miletus (552448) | more than 2 years ago | (#39110327)

There's a good video [vimeo.com] of a talk by public school teacher on this subject which is worth watching.

Re:Attacks on public education (5, Informative)

sideslash (1865434) | more than 2 years ago | (#39110515)

Certainly to the teacher's unions, any movement toward charter schools, homeschooling, vouchers, etc. is an "attack on public education". Fortunately, many people (read: parents) have the best interests of the students at heart and recognize when either public institutions or individuals within public institutions are failing to serve that prime objective. The cries of "racism" are typical of the left whenever the money isn't flowing their way, whether or not it has anything to do with race intrinsically.

Better Billionaires Than Public Sector Unions (3, Insightful)

RobotRunAmok (595286) | more than 2 years ago | (#39110927)

Actual, better pretty much any group than Public Sector Unions.

Fix the System:

1. Triple every teacher's salary
2. Eliminate Collective Bargaining and Tenure, replacing with individually negotiated Employment Contracts with a maximum 3-year term.
3. Teachers without Employment Contracts have their salaries available for merit-based increase biennially.
3. Eliminate Pensions.

In short, make teachers' jobs like most every other valued job for which you want constant strong competition among skilled employees and potential employees.

Re:Better Billionaires Than Public Sector Unions (5, Interesting)

greap (1925302) | more than 2 years ago | (#39111139)

This was tried in DC with Rhee. The teachers were offered a contract which would have seen their starting salary rise from $32k to $72k with performance related bonuses capable of taking it up to $185k (previously the cap was $79k and was based on seniority). In exchange tenure, rubber rooms and seniority pay had to go and there has to be a process for firing underperforming teachers that didn't take a year. They rejected the contract, apparently keeping bad teachers is more important to them then good pay.

Re:Better Billionaires Than Public Sector Unions (4, Informative)

Pumpkin Tuna (1033058) | more than 2 years ago | (#39111391)

The problem with Rhee's "plan" was that it was all based on test scores. The teachers were basically being asked to agree that they could be instantly fired if their kids didn't do well on a standardized test that they had no part in creating. If you aren't a teacher, you wouldn't know that sometimes no matter how hard you work and how well you teach, you get a bunch of kids that doesn't score well on tests. This is because the main factor in a student's performance in parental engagement and involvement. Rhee's plan was to fire all these "bad teachers" and hire shiny new ones, who she would then fire the next year. How about instead, do what good teachers do and look at what works and what doesn't and use that to improve next year?

Re:Better Billionaires Than Public Sector Unions (3, Informative)

greap (1925302) | more than 2 years ago | (#39111679)

The performance related bonuses were related to test scores, the firing would have been up to the principals so problems with bad students would have been part of the consideration. This is no different to what occurs in the real world, if you have a legitimate reason why you can't meet targets then you generally won't be fired for not meeting those targets, if you don't meet those targets because you were slacking or are incompetent then you get fired.

Re:Better Billionaires Than Public Sector Unions (1)

Pumpkin Tuna (1033058) | more than 2 years ago | (#39111429)

Fine, some of those are good ideas. They would get rid of the small percentage of egregious teachers. But how do you measure the merit-based increases when so much of a student's performance depends on their parents? Teachers can only work with the material they get.

Also, why would you want to encourage competition among teachers. The Finns don't do that. Instead the foster cooperation and it works.

Re:Attacks on public education (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39111669)

Way to simplify and alienate teaches unions and public education as the root of all evil. This is the kind of thinking that has caused such a ruckus in Michigan. Let's just trust CEO's, let's take away money from Public Schools and expect them to improve. Let's keep the Teacher's in constant Chaos, trying every new thing under the Sun without even letting a year go by before the next change. Also Parents are never to blame, they all have perfect children and have always provided the most support and inaction with their children's progress and constantly helping the teachers with in sight on how to help out. Yes, we're all to blame for the mess and let's start their before we start pointing fingers to possible solutions. Yeah, trust the Banks, CEO's and all the other 1%'ers to help us out, because yes they all care. If that offends and seems like a blanket statement so do the attacks on current systems with no offer of aid or improvement, just another way to make it cheaper.

Re:Attacks on public education (2)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 2 years ago | (#39110777)

Pft. Considering the state of public education these days, fuck'em. And I say that in the nicest way possible. About 3/4's of the kids in the neighborhood where the wife and I are are either home schooled or go to a private school, simply because parents don't believe that they're being taught correctly. Then again this is Ontario, no the US. But the more flappyheadeness that comes from a teacher and unions over 'attacks on public education' the further I come to believe that there's something fundamentally broken.

I still remember the happy-go-lucky fun times of attempted indoctrination and pressuring, though I actually didn't understand it until I was much older. As far back as grade 5. When the teachers here would push students to pressure their parents to vote for political parties like the NDP or we wouldn't get paper and pencils.

Re:Attacks on public education (2)

greap (1925302) | more than 2 years ago | (#39110941)

There is also http://www.waitingforsuperman.com/ [waitingforsuperman.com] and http://thelotteryfilm.com/ [thelotteryfilm.com] which is a look at charter schools in DC & NYC as well as the problems in the system itself.

Part of the problem is that people (such as yourself) keep framing the charter/voucher issue as an "attack" on public education when its nothing of the sort, people are not advocating for shutting down public schools and the only way charters & vouchers will "take money away" from public schools is if they perform better. What people are advocating for is choice, if the current system really is superior then it won't face any problems with charters or vouchers, if it is endemically broken then reform will be forced or the system will simply die.

For people who claim we can reform the current system what evidence is there that this will even happen? Reform has been promised for decades but every year the system gets more and more expensive while delivering poorer results, this is absolutely no evidence the system is even capable of being reformed. Administrative overheads in schools are absurd, and absurdities such as the fact it costs $300k and 11 months to fire a teacher in NYC (assuming it is not blocked by one of the dozens of boards and comities involved), to the extent that the average cost to send a child to a single year of K-12 is now $13.2k, the average private school costs $8.7k.

Since the politicians and unions who run the school systems are unwilling to fix the problems charters and vouchers are the best option.

No (0, Flamebait)

sl4shd0rk (755837) | more than 2 years ago | (#39110339)

We've got enough problems in the US with the systems currently under corporate influence. Why give them another?

Re:No (3, Interesting)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#39110419)

We've got enough problems in the US with the systems currently under corporate influence. Why give them another?

Govt and corps have merged, so all public schools are already under corporate dominance. The non-public schools aka private schools are also corporate controlled by definition. Not seeing the issue here.

Re:No (2)

Baloroth (2370816) | more than 2 years ago | (#39110571)

We've got enough problems in the US with the systems currently under corporate influence. Why give them another?

Yeah and look at how great a job the government has done running those public schools! Some of the students might even be able to read by the time they graduate!

/sarcasm

So, from the article... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39110365)

Chewing gum.

  Carrying visible “flaming or hot chips.’’

  Tardy to class more than 3 minutes.

  Forgetting your belt.

  Carrying a Sharpie or other permanent marker.

  Forgetting to place quotation marks around another writer’s words.

  Having visible Red Bull, other energy drinks or pop.

  Not wearing dress pants or the school shirt.

What's the problem here? These seem pretty straightforward and hard to fuck up, less the Tardy to class one, but you know what? A lot of workplaces aren't cool with that either. I think it's not a bad thing.

get rid of the food rules and it's fine (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 2 years ago | (#39110459)

Maybe it's have a rule saying no food in class.

As for gum make the fine about if you make a mess

Now maybe in a few classes you may need a permanent marker so maybe retool that rule.

the dress code rules are fine as well as being late.

Re:So, from the article... (1)

EasyTarget (43516) | more than 2 years ago | (#39110479)

Problem is, consider two groups: The Popular Jocks. Us Geeks.

Now.. which group do you think freely flouts the rules but hardly ever gets 'charged' (in the most literal sense) for it. ...and which group gets all the 'enforcement' attention.

Re:So, from the article... (1)

greap (1925302) | more than 2 years ago | (#39110973)

While they are still cliquey charters generally don't have a focus on sports like public schools so you don't end up with "untouchable" jocks.

Re:So, from the article... (3, Insightful)

Noughmad (1044096) | more than 2 years ago | (#39110499)

What's the problem here?

1. Children who think they can do anything.
2. Parents who make sure their children are not wrong.

Re:So, from the article... (1)

PlatyPaul (690601) | more than 2 years ago | (#39110791)

Attendance of non-public schools is not a right. Failure to comply with rules can (and, I would argue, should) result in punishment for failure to obey known policies and rules.

Re:So, from the article... (5, Funny)

zill (1690130) | more than 2 years ago | (#39110545)

Forgetting to place quotation marks around another writer’s words.

These seem pretty straightforward and hard to fuck up

Oh, the irony.

Re:So, from the article... (1)

firex726 (1188453) | more than 2 years ago | (#39110763)

The problem is some of these do not normally warrant a detention.

Forgetting to use quote marks, is an academic issue which should be dealt with in class, at most by a deduction of points from the grade. If it gets to the point of plagiarism then that is a different matter and should be dealt with accordingly, but there is no qualifier to that extent.

What wrong with possessing those food items?
Often time backpacks are required now to be mesh or clear, so even if you kept it in your bag the whole day and never took it out it would be visible. If there is an issue of the student eating in class or in the halls then make that the rule.

Re:So, from the article... (3, Interesting)

PlatyPaul (690601) | more than 2 years ago | (#39111055)

If these are the rules, then they do warrant a detention, by definition. You disagree with these detentions. I disagree with your disagreeing. Regardless of our opinion, these are the rules.

I strongly encourage bans on junk food in schools, and harsh punishment of potential plagiarism. If you want good behavior later, you have to encourage it.

Re:So, from the article... (1)

firex726 (1188453) | more than 2 years ago | (#39111639)

And if breaking the rules meant that the student should be expelled on their first offense? Will you defend that by saying "Dems' the rules".

I have no issue with the rules themselves, just the severity of the punishment.
Paying real money and spending time in detention for what could have easily been a typo does not "fit the crime" by any stretch of the imagination.

I assume you work. What if every time you made a typo in an email or here on /. your boss deducted money from your check? Based on your previous response I assume you would have no issue with that practice.

If you can't pay the fine don't do the crime (5, Insightful)

stiggle (649614) | more than 2 years ago | (#39110369)

If paying these fines is a problem, then make sure you don't get hit with them.
If you don't want your kid to be educated with a strict set of rules in the school, then choose a different school.

Re:If you can't pay the fine don't do the crime (-1)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#39110395)

If paying these fines is a problem, then make sure you don't get hit with them.
If you don't want your kid to be educated with a strict set of rules in the school, then choose a different school.

The most important rule taught, is if you have a lot of money, you can do whatever you want regardless of rules. What a surprise that life lesson comes from a 1%er billionaire.

Re:If you can't pay the fine don't do the crime (3, Insightful)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 2 years ago | (#39110511)

The most important rule taught, is if you have a lot of money, you can do whatever you want regardless of rules

The summary indicated that the student body in these schools is made up almost entirely the impoverished. So I seriously doubt there are any Richy Rich's in these schools buying their way out of anything. I suspect the fines are just a way of punishing the kids without resorting to old school techniques like spanking them, or disruptive techniques like suspension (which would take them out of class and disrupt the whole goal of their education). It's a bit unconventional, but considering how poorly the traditional system has worked in Chicago in the past, I can hardly blame them for trying something different.

Frankly, I suspect the whole impetus behind these complaints isn't coming from the parents of these kids so much as from the teacher's unions who want to smear the very idea of charter schools.

Re:If you can't pay the fine don't do the crime (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39110531)

It says clearly that the students are low-income.

Re:If you can't pay the fine don't do the crime (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 2 years ago | (#39110535)

The most important rule taught, is if you have a lot of money, you can do whatever you want regardless of rules. What a surprise that life lesson comes from a 1%er billionaire.

I'm pretty sure that the intent was to make sure the kid and/or parent has immediate and measurable "skin in the game" and they naively went with cash fines because that was a simple and obvious means to that end. But, as you pointed out, it has unintended consequences and on the next iteration they could probably do better.

I think it was the freakonmics guys who showed that cash rewards for desired results in school worked pretty well too - that might be a better way to go as it would indirectly teach that those who do right get paid instead of those who have money can do wrong with impunity.

Re:If you can't pay the fine don't do the crime (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39110549)

I don't recall reading anywhere that the fines are the school's only form of disciplinary action.

Re:If you can't pay the fine don't do the crime (2)

Baloroth (2370816) | more than 2 years ago | (#39110615)

Not true. The students end up in detention (probably a couple of hours long) in addition to the fine, or in the behavior class (during the summer) they have to pay for if they get too many demerits. The lesson there seems to be "even if you have money, you are still going to sit in detention."

Re:If you can't pay the fine don't do the crime (2)

PlatyPaul (690601) | more than 2 years ago | (#39110837)

I'd say the lesson is more like "parents are monetarily disincentivized from supporting behavior that results in detention". Detention is not free childcare.

Re:If you can't pay the fine don't do the crime (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39111003)

It's like buying your way out of trouble with money. Sure, the detention can still be there, but if you don't have the opportunity to pay the fines/fees, you lose out anyways.

Look at it this way. Example...
Let's say 1000 students total with half being low-income.
Let's say 10% of low-income students get in equal trouble to 10% of non-low-income students.
So, 50 low-income students and 50 non-low-income students get in trouble in an equal manner.
Some of those low-income students, or maybe most if not all, may not have the means to pay the fines whatsoever.
Those students who don't have said means, leave the school.
However, those non-low-income students may very well have the means to pay the fines, and they can choose to stay with the school if they so please.

So even if families are opting into this fine/fee disciplinary thing with this school, a greater percentage of non-low-income students can choose to stay with the school whereas low-income students will be financially forced out regardless of their choice.

Yeah, I know. It would have been less confusing if I said "rich" instead of "non-low-income", but rich may be misinterpretted as something else.

While I think it is better to find out why they are acting out, and I use "acting out" loosely given that it could be a simple as not putting quotes around something cited (according to the article), there has to be better ways to deal with these issues.

More old fart idiocy from a low user ID. Yay! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39110965)

Just a note: anyone invoking 1% or 99% is basically assumed by actual thinkers to be a nonthinking entity parroting propaganda.

Way to miss the point, the whole story, the facts, objective reality, the real world, and, oh, anything that doesn't fit into your unassailable, prefab, historically scrapheaped pig ignorant ideological view of Things. Go roll another blunt and take a long toke, dummy. Your world view is expired, tired and never worked.

This system is actually working better than what is there now, but Mr. Ideological Scum can't accept reality. Read the article at least and see that there's no rich kids at the school. It's a good school for kids who were failed by your Holy System, but, no, Mr. Ideological Filth has to focus on one isolated thing and get all high and mighty. Good god, people like you are just the most worthless forms of life in existence.

Re:If you can't pay the fine don't do the crime (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39111529)

The most important rule taught is that inappropriate behavior, and breaking the clearly defined and unambiguous rules will cause real an noticeable pain.

To avoid the pain, parents will correct the behavior of their child.

Re:If you can't pay the fine don't do the crime (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39111443)

Sounds an awful lot like preventing crime is not the goal.

If you can pay the fine do the crime?

Don't worry... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39110423)

I'm sure the government will provide subsidies to these kids any day now so they have an equal opportunity of growing up into complete fuckups like the most of the inner city Chitown youths.

Diversity in systems (0)

autocracy (192714) | more than 2 years ago | (#39110437)

This has a very military / boot camp feel to it, and it is obviously have some sort of affect.

Students aren't required to go to the school, and the fines are relatively small. $5 seems enough to be discouraging to the students without breaking anybody's back.

More than anything, somebody is experimenting with a system, and education needs that. I don't know if it's right, but it's not a compulsory place to be and it's not wrong. Good on them.

Re:Diversity in systems (0)

EasyTarget (43516) | more than 2 years ago | (#39110547)

the fines are relatively small

Do you realise how much of the worlds population earns less than that a day? let alone an hour? Such people exist even in America.

it's just a scheme to allow the rich folks kids to buy bad behaviour and keep the poor ones in their place. In other words an extension of the whole American Dream.

Low user ID = old whiny geek dumbass (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39110795)

Oh, STFU, Che. Something seems to be working, but economic crybaby class warfare filth like you still get all weepy. Go buy some new emo outfits or something, geek scum.

I know you think you are being all Mr. High Ground, but you're really just being closed to new data, and committing a hugely superficial analysis here. Typical. You think you know it all, and you know what you know.

Re:Diversity in systems (2)

Dog-Cow (21281) | more than 2 years ago | (#39110811)

I think that some of the infractions are rather silly and over the top, but your hyperbole is unwarranted.

What the rest of the world does or does not earn in a day has absolutely no bearing on fines in a US school. Zero. Zilch, Nada.

Saying that some exist in America (too) is at least hitting closer to home, but also has no bearing here. The school is an optional alternative to public schools. If the parents cannot afford their children's fines, they may always move them (back) to the "free" public schools.

Re:Diversity in systems (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39111717)

If the parents of these students are earning $5 per day, and the child breaks the rules even ONCE, I am sure the parents will take immediate corrective action, and it will never happen again.

The end result will be that the FAMILY was caused pain because a member of the family broke a clearly defined rule. The family will see to it that it never happens again, and the child receives a top notch education, receives a scholarship, receives a top notch secondary education, lands a well paying job, and due to his/her demonstrated discipline, moves up the ladder of success. Earns enough money to live comfortably, and is able to care for the loving parents who worked their asses of to see to it he/she learned while he was in school.

One bad apple, or the whole bunch? (1)

captainpanic (1173915) | more than 2 years ago | (#39110439)

I notice one example of a bad apple... and then a question about the whole bunch at the end. Without more examples, it's hard to say anything about the bunch.

What's wrong with rich people giving money to an already privatised school system? The US is the most capitalistic (large) economy in the world. You guys chose to have this system. You chose to have privatised schools. You chose to have a relatively small group of people who are relatively wealthy. Given all those democratic choices, if I were you, I'd be happy that some money still goes into schools through corporate charity.

If all that money went to dividend (money to shareholders), then nobody would be surprised. I'd say this is better.

Re:One bad apple, or the whole bunch? (1)

Baloroth (2370816) | more than 2 years ago | (#39110663)

What's wrong with rich people giving money to an already privatised school system? The US is the most capitalistic (large) economy in the world. You guys chose to have this system. You chose to have privatised schools

No, the US has a public school system, very much so. It just sucks, quite badly, so people who want their kids to have a decent education are forced to found and fund private schools so their (and other) kids can graduate high school knowing how to write and do basic math.

Wait a minute here... (2)

PortHaven (242123) | more than 2 years ago | (#39110455)

First off, are these fines working?

Seriously, gum chewing in schools is a big problem. It is disgusting finding your pants stuck to a desk because someone stuck their gum there.

What's wrong with teaching about plagiarism with a fine. In the real world, fine's are much more.

What are the penalties of not paying a fine? (Can it be sent to collection and ruin your credit rating? That might be too much.)

Are the kids learning? Is the learning environment better than the comparable city schools thanks to the discipline?

OH MY GOD!!!!!

Disciplining children. I mean we removed spanking. We removed yelling. Now we're having issue with financial penalties.

Would someone like to propose an alternative for keeping out classrooms from being like zoos?

Re:Wait a minute here... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39110617)

Step 1: Give schools millions so they can provide inexpensive education to poor kids and so indirectly give millions to poor kids
Step 2: Impose trivial fines sufficient to get parents attention focused on educational problems
Step 3: Smarter and more responsible kids with involved parents.

Works for me.

Re:Wait a minute here... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39110673)

The problem with instituting financial penalties on children is that even if they have money, they very likely didn't work or earn it, it was gifted to them or allowed (allowance) to them. Ultimately this is more of a hit on the parents than anything, and if you have ever had children in your life, you would realize that children don't understand money, and the bad apples couldn't care if their behavior is putting grief on the parents.

You could say bad parenting but it is more complicated than that. Genetics plays a huge part in the way a child turns out. How else could I have sired a fighter pilot for the Navy and a self destructive heroin addict? I love them both equally, and I gave them the same discipline, and the same advantages in life. One succeeded and one didn't even try and squandered every chance that was ever given him and gave up on life. He certainly did not care about how much money he costed me. He is and always was far too self-centered for that.

Re:Wait a minute here... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39111335)

and if you have ever had children in your life, you would realize that children don't understand money

And if you were a fit parent, you would make sure that your children do, indeed understand money.

Re:Wait a minute here... (1)

jank1887 (815982) | more than 2 years ago | (#39111109)

What are the penalties of not paying a fine?

According to TFA, they make you repeat the year, regardless of academic performance.

Fines - From the Article (3, Insightful)

El Torico (732160) | more than 2 years ago | (#39110467)

This is from the article and explains the fines/fees,

Students at Noble schools receive demerits for various infractions -- four for having a cellphone or one for untied shoelaces. Four demerits within a two-week period earn them a detention and $5 fine. Students who get 12 detentions in a year must attend a summer behavior class that costs $140.

Five dollars for four demerits appears reasonable. Do the students get a warning and then a demerit?

Re:Fines - From the Article (1)

Dhalka226 (559740) | more than 2 years ago | (#39111265)

Yeah, the amounts don't bother me. I would take exception to something as silly as untied shoelaces being demerit-worthy, and thus I would wonder about the application of even more reasonable-sounding rules, but that's really just a minor quibble overall. It's still good enough to see if it seems to work.

Re:Fines - From the Article (1)

PlatyPaul (690601) | more than 2 years ago | (#39111467)

Untied shoes increase the risk of tripping and falling. Private schools have to worry about the cost of insurance against injury claims, and want to maximize students' ability to attend class (as opposed to being in the infirmary/hospital).

Re:Fines - From the Article (1)

Talderas (1212466) | more than 2 years ago | (#39111605)

12 Detention @ $5 a pop
1 Mandatory Summer Course @ $140 for 12 Detentions

$200 total cost from 12 Detentions which requires you to earn 2 demerits every week for 24 weeks.

And this is what is getting people upset (1)

MikeRT (947531) | more than 2 years ago | (#39110469)

As the Fact Sheet we have provided shows, when students receive more than 12 detentions, they have to pay $140 to attend a “behavior class.” And if they receive more detentions, they have to take two discipline classes, costing a whopping $280.

A $140 fine for 12 detentions? Really? Why is the student not simply suspended after 5 detentions in one year and expelled after 7-8 detentions?

What's best for the child (2)

accessbob (962147) | more than 2 years ago | (#39110705)

Generally it's better to keep the child in school learning, however imperfectly, than having them running around the streets on suspension. You have to ensure that disruptive pupils don't impact on other children's learning, but the principle is a good one.

On Rules (4, Informative)

bobaferret (513897) | more than 2 years ago | (#39110505)

I went to Missouri Military Academy. Although we didn't have to pay fines, sorry fees, there were a ton of different rules that would get you in trouble. Some demerits were worth more than others. For each point we got the joy and pleasure of marching in a square for 15 min/per demerit. Or 30 min of study hall, depending on the day, or holding an 8 lbs rife straight out for 5 min. The only thing we had to pay with was our free time. In a non boarding school situation money is the only thing you've got to work with, and it has the effect of getting the parent involved as well, since they are paying. I'm sure life isn't good for the kids when mom and dad get a bill for $X and the kid get to spend his time at home working it off. It's looks like the cost of the demerits are fairly cheap, less than a pack of off brand smokes. So it's not like people are getting saddled with huge costs. Sure the list of demerits seems pretty nit picky, but I've experienced worse. "Not sitting up straight, Running in front of the admin building, Gigline not straight." I'm glad some schools out there are trying something different, esp if it seems to be working.

I dislike the fines, but... (5, Insightful)

SecurityGuy (217807) | more than 2 years ago | (#39110507)

I dislike the fines, but this is EXACTLY the way things like this should be tried out. Try things at relatively small scale and on a population that volunteers for it. This is exactly the way medical research is carried out. If you want the cancer treatment that looks promising, but might not actually work, you have to volunteer to get it and it's available to a limited number of people.

Contrast this with what we usually do: entire school districts, or worse, entire states, or MUCH worse, the whole country tries some harebrained scheme, or even some halfway decent sounding scheme, which turns out to have real problems. Take No Child Left Behind, for example. Testing to measure performance sounds like a really good idea. Could we perhaps have tried it out on a smaller group than the whole country in order to find out it doesn't work?

*I* don't like the idea, but my kids aren't going there. Leave them alone unless there's sufficient data to prove this performs worse than the default.

Incredible results? (4, Insightful)

Eponymous Coward (6097) | more than 2 years ago | (#39110509)

Incredibly good, I assume.

In evaluating the school, I think you have to first judge how well it is serving the students and families. Then things like the welfare of the teachers and the quality of the facilities. The billionaire connection is rather far down the list of things that I would be concerned about.

Maybe (1)

Maximum Prophet (716608) | more than 2 years ago | (#39110519)

Should billionaires rule our schools?

First answer these questions:

1) Will the Billionaires try to make more people like themselves, or more worker drones?

2) If the Billionaires will freely give us the secrets to being Billionaires, do we want our kids to become Billionaires?

If my child grew up to be Warren Buffet, I wouldn't be too upset, but I don't want my kids to be or marry a Don Trump.

A side question is "Do the Billionaires really know how they got where they are, and can they teach it?" (If they inherited their initial money, they will have a hard time teaching kids how to do that.)

Re:Maybe (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 2 years ago | (#39110957)

Should college dropouts rule our schools?

FTFY

TEACH THE TEST needs to goaway (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 2 years ago | (#39111039)

well college does not tech all the skills you need for the job and in some jobs you need a TECH SCHOOL / apprenticeships.

Part of why schools are bad is the TEACH THE TEST IDEA and College as to many classes that you pass by just cramming for the test.

Re:Maybe (Why not?) (1)

Maximum Prophet (716608) | more than 2 years ago | (#39111329)

Should college dropouts rule our schools?

Why not have a few college dropouts teach at schools? (Assuming they are successful in some aspect of their lives)

The people who teach and lead in the school system, did well in the school system. Getting people for whom the current system works to teach and run the schools leads to a system just like it was before.

If you have a system that is running at 100% efficiency, as well as it can, then it makes sense to put the same kind of people in charge year after year. But if it isn't, then perhaps it's time to shake things up.

When I was in school, there wasn't a single teacher that had any idea how to start and run a small business. (Except, perhaps for the ones that left to do just that, and they weren't teaching business) Leadership was always mentioned as being important and necessary to get into a good university and do well in life, but there were zero classes in leadership. You were just supposed to learn it by osmosis.

family interest, not money is the main factor (5, Insightful)

peter303 (12292) | more than 2 years ago | (#39110641)

The best correlation of student success is parental interest in their kids education. I come from immigrant family were this was a factor. I and my brothers all received at least one ivy league degree. I've seen poor immigrants from east Europe and Asia do well even when the family did not have a lot of money. Unfortunately the two largest minority groups in the USA do not have lots of family interest in education. They dont do as well even when their schools are well funded.

Should government rule our schools? (2)

jejones (115979) | more than 2 years ago | (#39110679)

At least these schools give one a choice. Unfortunately, I bet that everybody still has to fund public schools whether their children go there or not--and while that's precisely analogous to the "Microsoft tax", I bet there will be slashdotters who will defend it.

"Carrying a Sharpie or other permanent marker." (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39110699)

One of the infractions is "Carrying a Sharpie or other permanent marker." . Students have to be careful carrying a Sharpie, they could get cut! its like running with scissors.

Re:"Carrying a Sharpie or other permanent marker." (3, Insightful)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 2 years ago | (#39110975)

Students have to be careful carrying a Sharpie, they could get cut!

If you have seen the sheer amount of graffiti in your average inner city school, you would understand that this rule is not as silly as it sounds. If you want to create a positive educational environment, one of the first steps is not having gang tags splayed on every open surface in your school.

Easy profit (0)

Walt Dismal (534799) | more than 2 years ago | (#39110801)

What an excellent new way to make money:
1. Lure parents into putting kids in these schools.
2. impose easily breakable rules on the kids and charge them for breaking the rules. Complaints or no payment? Out!
3. PROFIT!!!

"education entrepreneurs.." = vultures
"who are transforming public education" ... into private profit centers. What do you want to bet the schools contain advertising and junk-food laden cafeterias and pricy vending machines.

Probable future rules and fines:
1. Downloading. Action handed off to RIAA.
2. Questioning the establishment: expulsion
3. Not buying Microsoft or Koch Bros products: death or worse.

What kind of school conditions kids to become fearful of making mistakes, by attaching monetary punishment to errors? This is conditioning to obey authority. That doesn't properly belong in legitimate academia. Unless these are schools for truants or reform schools, this is egregious. And even then.

Re:Easy profit (1)

sideslash (1865434) | more than 2 years ago | (#39111115)

This is conditioning to obey authority.

Maybe you just phrased your post poorly, but it comes across as a really ignorant rant. Anybody who deals with kids understands that they need to respect authority and follow the rules. Some parents/educators are more permissive than others, and some are better at finding a balance than others. But nobody allows a kid to smear feces around all the walls of their home just to avoid conditioning them to obey authority. They darn well better obey authority on the issue of feces-smearing, or there will be consequences. That's not destroying the spirit of the child, that's just teaching self-control and self-discipline, which will serve the child well in the future. Maybe you don't like the charter school's rule about sharpie pens, but it is ignorant and unproductive to response across the board with an anti-authority perspective.

Of course they should (1)

HaZardman27 (1521119) | more than 2 years ago | (#39110849)

Billionaires are the people who (in general) rose above their competition and found great success. Why wouldn't you want them to control schools? Does it really make more sense to have schools controlled by mediocre individuals?

Re:Of course they should (1)

jperl (1453911) | more than 2 years ago | (#39111169)

Billionaires are the people who (in general) rose above their competition and found great success. Why wouldn't you want them to control schools? Does it really make more sense to have schools controlled by mediocre individuals?

Yes and they got all their money through hard work. There is no way they did not inherit their wealth, they were always loyal citizens, never broke any rules or crushed their rivals.
It think is enough if they have to deal with Zuckerburg outside school.

Re:Of course they should (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39111299)

Do you really believe your average joe school superintendant has such a clean moral and ethical record? You only hear about billionaires doing "bad" things because they're famous.

sponsors (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39110895)

http://www.newschools.org/donors

Anonymous sponsors the school ! *of course*

Teaching logical consequences (1)

oDDmON oUT (231200) | more than 2 years ago | (#39111285)

Barretta quotes aside, this is something that public schools are no longer able to do.

You can't "punish" Johnny for fear of reprisal from a variety of sources, and make no mistake, with the levels of parental non-involvement, Johnny *needs* some reining in.

Now, does the school need to keep $190K of "fees"? No. They need to make an effort to do something visible and positive with that money, preferably involving the students, in their communities. That would be a lesson everyone could get behind.

Wait... Discipline? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39111357)

We cant have THAT in our schools!

So, state and federal laws prohibit schools from using corporal punishment as a means of keeping children, who have never received any type of corrective training in the home, from disrupting the class rooms across the country.

Private citizens decide (after 30 years of failure by the Federal, State, and Local Education Bureaucracy) they can do better. They use their own resources to fund schools that will, of all the hair-brained ideas, EDUCATE THE CHILDREN... (the nerve of some people)

Said Federal and State laws still prohibit corporal punishment, so they come up with a way to punish pupils for behavior that is improper, or disrupts the classroom. Charge them MONEY!

SOMEONE STOP THEM!

Imagine if this were to be tolerated!
In just a few short years there would be TERROR in our schools, as QUIET CLASSROOMS learned MATH, SCIENCE, and (god forbid) READING!

IT WON'T STOP THERE!!!!
"Students" that would have happily disrupted both their own learning, and that of other children will be faced with the HORROR of sitting quietly and LEARNING, or being expelled from school for their inappropriate behavior!

THIS CAN NOT BE TOLERATED!
We can not stand by and allow these BILLIONAIRES to DISCIPLINE these poor helpless children. If these BILLIONAIRES cause these POOR families discomfort, by charging them MONEY for breaking rules, WHAT MESSAGE ARE WE SENDING!

Society has standards that all individuals should be expected to conform to? INTOLERANCE!
Children should learn early to respect those around them, and expect respect towards themselves? TOTALITARIANISM!

And worst of all!
Those that cause trouble will be PUNISHED!
And that PUNISHMENT causes DISCOMFORT!

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