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tv   Washington Journal Heather Vogell Discusses Alternative School Enrollment  CSPAN  February 26, 2017 8:03am-8:36am EST

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are interviewed by a washington post reporter. >> what do you think of the legacy of your son's life and death and the activism because of it? you look at the group black lives matter written in response to the failure to convict george zimmerman. what do you -- what comes to mind? >> first and foremost, we think of trayvon as a young man who galvanized this country. >> i think the name trayvon martin represents not just who he was, but all young black and brown boys and some girls as killed andave been nobody has been held accountable. >> tonight at 9:00 eastern on afterwards. "washington journal" continues. host: joining us from new york
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is heather vogell, reporter with propublica. thank you for being with us. guest: thank you for having me. host: let's start with an explanation on dropouts in alternative schools. can you explain? guest: we published a story that looked very in depth at a situation that we found going on in the school district that includes orlando, orange county public schools. schools arehigh basically sending kids who are their lowest achievers to charter schools that are also alternative schools. these are schools that are specifically supposed to be geared towards kids who are way behind in credits, potentially not going to graduate. the problem we found is that were not finding a lot of
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success in the alternative schools, charter alternative schools. the regular schools were benefiting from getting these kids out of their classes intensethere is a very inountability system in play florida, and schools receive letter grades every here. they are judged on things like graduation rate, test scores. these were kids that were dragging down those measures for these schools, which were working really hard and struggling to keep their reputations up. the kids were basically being asked in some cases more strongly than others, they were being counseled to go to these charter schools where many of them it appears would leave without degrees. host: how are they run specifically? guest: these are for-profit charter schools in this case.
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we were trying to find an instance that was an example of a phenomenon i have seen in other school districts around the country, and in some cases there are charters or for-profit charters involved. in some cases the alternative schools are run by the school district, but in all of those instances what we were looking for was to look at this idea of these schools being used as warehouses to help other schools. their ratings up -- to help other schools keep their ra tings up. host: one of the achievements of the bush administration was the no child behind, but it has been getting criticism from republicans especially. is there a way to measure how these schools are doing? guest: the alternative schools? host: yeah. host: all that have: all schools
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accountability systems in place. in a lot of the states what i found from doing a state-by-state survey was that alternative schools received special dispensation. they were exempt from some of the requirements on the regular schools. they were able to have poorer performance and not be shut down or receive the same consequences. the argument for that is they are taking students were struggling the most. the flipside of it is it allows the school district and these networks of schools who really fly under the radar to not be held accountable when they are actually not doing very much to help kids. host: let me read to our audience in and served for him your publication, which is available on the usa today website, and we will get to audience calls and comments in just a moment. "alternative schools have long
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served as placements for students who violated disciplinary codes, but since nclb refashioned the yardstick thisefashioning schools, has taken on another role, a silent release valve for high schools straining under accountability standards. traditional schools in many states are free to use alternative programs to rid themselves of weak students whose test scores, truancy, and risk of dropping out threatens their standing." it seems like some of these schools, we don't want them because they will make us look bad, so let's send them somewhere else. is that your assessment? this is not every alternative school across the country. there is a segment where this is still going on. is a lot of the
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accountability systems that were put in place were touted as something that was supposed to put a spotlight on's duties who had been -- on students who had been neglected in the past, from low income families, african-american students, hispanic students who were not as successful in many schools. the idea was that let's highlight that performance so schools really need to be responsible for them. we will put more of an effort into helping them succeed. that was the idea behind it. let's leave no child behind. let's bring everybody up by shining the spotlight. what that has done is create perverse incentives to push some of those students out altogether. that is basically what we were trying to look at. tot: you will go back another excerpt from this story. we want to hear from our
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audience. republicans.1 (202) 748-8000 if you are a democrat. independents (202) 748-8002. have the numbers on the bottom of the screen. we are checking your tweets. our guest is heather vogell, a reporter from propublica. you say the alternatives to schools provide more support to struggling students, but a broad swath of them shortchange students. nearly a third of alternative school students receive $500 less per pupil than students in the same district. 40% of school districts with alternative schools provide counseling services only in regular services. haveer alternative schools been accused of collecting public money for students who were not in classes.
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guest: exactly. this is supposed to be an intervention, especially when we are talking about kids struggling academically. these are not what we used to hear about in the mid to thousands, disruptive kids that were making it impossible for other kids to learn. these are kids who have fallen behind, in some cases very far behind. what they really need is more peers. than their what we found was that in many cases they were getting less .upport another feature of a lot of these schools is that kids are basically set up in computer labs where they are working on computers all day. they have very little or no face-to-face instruction from teachers. that does not work for a lot of kids who are in this category,
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struggling academically. they need a personal connection. they need a person to help guide them and answer questions as they come along. they are not always great independent learners. that is how they got into trouble in the first place. that model does not seem like a very good fit for a lot of these kids. some it may work for. there may be some kids were just a few credits behind or had some sort of disruption because of family problems or medical problems, and they can just go into these computer labs and catch up your for many -- catch up. for many of these kids, this is not a helpful convention it seems. heather vogell, a reporter for the atlanta journal constitution where she wrote an extensive series called "cheating our children." she is a graduate of georgetown university, earning her masters from columbia. she is a reporter for
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propublica. carol, independent line. good morning. caller: good morning. i read this article by chance a couple of days ago. i had mixed feelings because, one student said he went there every day and laid music on his earbudsd music on his every day. some of these problems are just beyond the scope of any charter school. i pay a lot of money for school taxes now. it seems like the administrators keep getting richer and richer. i cannot afford to pay any more money. thank you. host: thank you for the call. kids who areare tough to work with in a lot of cases. it is not necessarily in the cases we are talking about is a disruptive or violent behavior but because they are just not engaged in school. they have not found the
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focus to work the in a way that will meet the strict credit earning standards that states have put in place like florida. i guess the question is, you know, there is mandatory school requirements until 60 in a lot --places, including death 16 requirements until 16 and a lot of places, hitting florida. it seems it would make sense for the school district to put energy into figuring out the best way to try to reengage some of these students. one of the students in my story became very frustrated with school and somewhat disengaged also.
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when the school district suggested that her guidance counselor suggested that she take a look at some of these alternative schools. her mother took a look at them, and she thought i don't want my kid sent away separate from everywhere else that does not have all the things a regular school offers. the mom came back in and demanded that her child had a learning disability that it be done with a more direct way that they figure out a specific plan for her daughter. her daughter was able to graduate on time after a very focused effort by the parents, the student, and the school to get her through that last year and a half. i do not think these are kids who are beyond saving. they may need creative solutions in some cases. they will probably need more
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support and resources. schools are very strapped right now. it is a difficult problem. i know taxpayers are feeling the burden in a lot of places. host: this is a tweet that says, isn't it true that the probability of success declines dramatically if students cannot read by the third grade? guest: i do not know the statistics on that. that sounds right. i know that reading issues from what i have heard talking with special education lawyers, reading issues are often at the root of problems kids have who had up in these places, even the kids who end up here for disruption issues. often it comes back to academics. it comes back to their ability to read. in some cases that means they are undiagnosed learning disability.
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there is a lot we know today about learning disabilities, and there is a lot of help out there. if kids find the right program and get connected to people dedicated to helping them, they can work it out. often that does not happen. kids often end up not having the problems recognized or recognize too late, and they feel -- you can imagine what it is like to be the kid who cannot keep up. it can push you further from engaging in school. you can read our guest online at propublica.org. we will go to chad, independent line. good morning. caller: thank you for taking my call. longtime listener. thank you to c-span, the adult
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in the room when it comes to the news media. i am a teacher. -- ink one of the things was in the pta, one of the --ngs america has to wake up when you talk about engaging themnts, if you push through high school and into college, if you put them in tactical school early on where they can learn a skill and trade, we need to rebuild our country. we need to stop stigmatizing technical schools. i will engage those kids. let me teach them the electric trade. i will teach them map that make sense -- math that makes sense when you apply. host: what is your secret? how do you get them engaged and keep them engaged? caller: number one, i use different things instead of just
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reading and writing in a book. i use things they can put together. a lot of people learn with their hands. they don't necessarily learn by reading words on a page. they need to see the light of, literally watch the light will come on when you turn the switch. you can see the light in their eyes when they see it happen. like to build. i like building things. a lot of people like doing things with their hands. when you put them behind a computer screen, you disengage them. if you put them in a class where they get the chance to interact with one another and tools and materials, not everybody is the same. .t is a shame you watch how much money goes to administration, exactly what you're talking about. i am glad somebody is shining the light on what is happening in america. administrators are making a lot of money. the burden of government and
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regulation when it comes to school is amazing when you look at it. if we could just engage these young people at an earlier age, get them out. don't stigmatize vocational education. this is one of the few things where you can work for a few years for someone else, though out on your own and make a good living working for yourself. host: thank you for the call. how do you respond? guest: this is a great point. it is very interesting. the students i was talking about who became disengaged and her mother ended up helping her getting through school. vocationalr into a program for cosmetology. that was really the one thing she really wanted to do that she was excited about doing her senior year. if she left for the charter school, she would not have been able to do that. that program ended up being the bright spot.
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it really was a motivator for her to work harder to get through senior year. if she left for this computer , she would school never have got that chance. that is a terrific point. host: let's go on to kathleen, florida. thank you for joining us. caller: yes. can you hear me? host: we sure can. caller: i have a couple of comments. ell forto thank ms. vog the wonderful work she is doing around the country and in florida. i want to address charter schools. charter schools started in florida basically to segregate students. if people would investigate back, they would find that to be true. the other thing with charter schools, and i am not knocking all charter schools because some of them do a job that they really need to do, but i know as
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a matter of fact that there are charter schools in florida that the only reason they were started was to make money. i know a teacher who work in one in orlando that was set up supposedly to bring children who techropped out into a school. that school lasted one year. those people made a million dollars. some ofews -- abused the children there. there is investigative work that needs to be done in florida. it graders and night graders dropout in florida. there is no accountability because on the paperwork they have gone to an alternative school or gone to get a ged. if anyone ever looked into it, they would find this is not true. i'm going to stop you there because we are running
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short on time. iq for putting those issues on the table. guest: that is all interesting. we were just talking about adult education and dropouts. the thing this story got into about this was that this particular chain of for-profit thousandshools codes of kids as leaving for adult education every year across 21 schools in the state of florida. to use that code, the state of florida says you need to have proof that the child has either enrolled in an adult education class or taken and passed the ged. talking with the charter chain, they did not keep those kinds of records on each of the kids they were using those codes for. it raises the question whether these were really all dropouts,
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literally thousands of dropouts coming through these schools every year. i think the caller has a good point. despite all the data we collect and all the analysis that is done, the integrity of the data collection in florida and many other states, i think there are serious questions as to whether accurate collection is and whether we really have an idea of how many dropouts there are. next.diana, your --you are next. caller: thank you for c-span. chad from south carolina had a terrific one. i agreed with him. the percentage of for-profit charter schools in the u.s.? yes. i agree with the previous
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caller. i think there is a huge issue with that. the push to make everybody go to a charter school, a lot of the parents cannot afford what they are going to have to pay if they get vouchers to go. host: thank you. guest: i do not have that percentage. i was reading last week that in michigan it is very high. michigan.r-profit in i read that last week. i do not have the whole nation. michigan is the home state of the new education secretary, betsy devos. i wanted to follow-up on a specific. as education secretary, what role does she have in formulating the policy and practicality of an increase of charter schools in this country? guest: i think that it is going to be something we're just going
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to have to wait and see because most of the policy -- almost all of the policy on charter schools is formed at the state level. there is probably things that can be done at the federal level as incentives to states, which has been done in the past under president obama to encourage charter schools, ways to encourage states to change their regulations by lifting caps on charter schools, streamlining the authorization process. you could have a carrot and stick offered by the federal government. it is hard for the federal government to have direct impact on that, i think. things change over the next few years. there may be new programs or funding streams or redirected funding streams.
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that could change. it really has been a state issue so far. hampshire, from new republican line. good morning. caller: good morning. nice to hear the conversation going on. host: we are glad to have you. caller: thank you. i was calling about the fact about the kids that have a hard time learning in school. it happened to my daughter. in fourth grade i told the school she could not remember what she read. i asked them to test server add. they said it would cost too much. $700. they will not do it. i kept asking. my daughter was in ninth grade. i happen to mention to a saidrent position, they they will. he said girls are harder to do. you have to watch them do the
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test versus a boy because they are hyper. he did it in half an hour and watched her try to answer the questions. he said yes. she got it. i thought, this child missed all of the schooling because they were too lazy to do this half-hour thing, which was sad. at least she got to get better. do whatoo bad the kids we did in school growing up because we had the most kids in the high school was 200. you have a lot of hands-on. host: let's get a response. guest: i am sorry you went through that. i have heard different but similar stories like that from all over the country in reporting on special education
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and some of the problems there are at the local level. the federal law requires school districts to go out and find kids who are having learning difficulties because of disabilities. activelysupposed to be looking for those kids, not discouraging parents from testing. it is expensive to do that. it can be expensive to serve individual kids once they are identified. sometimes districts are put in a bind funding was where they are fud g -- in a bind nding-wise. host: ronald, you get the last word from philadelphia. independent line. caller: good morning. i would like to know what is the fact -- i don't call them
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charter schools. they are corporate schools. they are in there to make money. they take the best and leave the rest. nobody has said how many of these corporate schools have took the money, make money," as they got the money and left -- made the money, and closed up as soon as they got the money and left town. we have parking authority money. we have tax money. we have raised the soda tax. we have closed up all of the schools and given the money to corporations. corporations have not produced anything but taking the money and closing up. host: thank you. guest: there have been a number of charter schools that have sometimes taken government money and never opened. that is definitely something that has happened. at the same time it is important to remember that over 90% of
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kids attend public schools, regular schools, not charter schools. it is a fairly small segment of the population. those instances where you have outright corruption, i know that has really angered taxpayers. ont has been a black mark the sector as it has tried to grow and mature and in some cases scale some of the more successful schools and spread new techniques, which was the point of charter schools to begin with. it has been a difficult tension. host: we have been talking about hidden dropouts and alternative schools. to a broader point, how much influence does the department of education have? how do directives from washington affect schools around the country? government iseral important.
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it is a funding stream. it is a big funding stream. you also have the office of civil rights. you have people whose job it is to make sure that schools understand and are following federal law that bars discrimination against students for disabilities, gender. that has been an important role the federal government has played. and also race, of course. in terms of direct us from washington, it tends to be less direct. it tends to be more offering grant money with certain conditions attached. money with strings attached tends to be the way that the federal government operates -- or at least exerts control ons tools -- on schools.
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it is different from some of the other federal departments. host: heather vogell in new york, her work is online on propublica and usa today. thank you very much your time and perspective on the sunday. we appreciate it. guest: thank you very much. host: the house and senate both back in session. there are eight nominations still pending in the u.s. senate. they will take many of those up this week. this is from the washington times. looking only at the top of the state department. 100 he positions still to be filled. there is some lag filling some key government positions. what is next for donald trump's foreign-policy agenda? we will be joined in just a moment by thomas countryman, let go as a veteran of the state department. we will get his perspective as "washington journal" continues.
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we are back in a moment. >> i think a lot of these kids look at these huge ideas, and they seem conversationally almost like a seinfeld episode. if only we had this, this could happen. they felt like i could just do this like this. it was so much harder. >> tonight on q&a, austria journal staff ordered alexander world ofs at the startups in silicon valley and the young people who have ventured there in the hopes of becoming the next big success story. >> a lot of them felt like the rush of hollywood actresses to l.a. will end up being waitresses. it is harder to be elon musk than tom cruise. so many of these companies, instagram, the people running
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them not just have a lucky break . the stories are years and years of engineering. they have qualifications i cannot even imagine. q&a.onight on c-span's >> "washington journal" continues. host: we want to welcome thomas countryman, veteran of the state department let go just a few weeks ago. what happened? guest: i began my service as a foreign service officer in 1982. i had the opportunity to work at several embassies around the world, white house, united nations, pentagon. in 2011 i became assistant secretary for nonproliferation, which is an appointed position chosen by the president and confirmed by the

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