This is part 2 of a multipart series. I encourage all readers to also view part 1 here.
Unfortunately, the red flags continue to stack upon the previous five detailed yesterday for Pathways in Education’s (PIE’s) charter application.
Red flag six: The student-teacher ratio is astronomically high for an alternative school.
The budget allocates for only 6 FTE classroom teachers. At an anticipated enrollment of 300 students, that results in a bloated student-teacher ratio of 50 to 1. Fifty to one.
This ratio would be considered much too high for a public school in general; however, for an alternative school in particular in which the focus is on small class sizes and additional interaction time for each individual student, this ratio is obtusely top heavy.
Red flag number seven: Two data points do not a trend make.
PIE’S application attempts to make an argument that Caldwell not only needs an additional charter school, but a rather large one with a 300 student enrollment.
In order to make this case, PIE’s application makes the specious argument that the graduation rate at Caldwell’s existing alternative school, Canyon Springs, dropped slightly between the ’12-13 and ’13-’14 school years.
As any student that has taken even a rudimentary statistics course can point out, 2 single data points, or 2 single year’s data is insufficient to generate any trend of substance worth evaluating. But hey, don’t let that mathy stuff get in the way of developing a candid rationale (or lack of) for the creation of this charter. See page 21 for more information
Red flag eight: The graduation formula changed in the ’13-’14 school year…so how is it a valid comparison?
But why choose ’12-’13 and ’13-’14 school years, specifically, when newer data is available?
Oh, it must have nothing to do with the fact that the feds required Idaho to transition to a much more stringent set of guidelines which defines graduation as having to occur within a 4 year time period which knocked the entire statewide graduation average down significantly, with especially large impacts on alternative school students who by definition are at risk of not graduating. See the Idaho State of Ed Press Release regarding the change here.
Red Flag Nine: The “Blended” model at Kootenai Bridge Academy has concerning results
North Idaho hosts a similar blended learning model as Pathways in Education in which students take a combination of computer-based instruction as well as work-study/volunteer programs to earn credit. However, their results have been lackluster at an underwhelming 32.4% in ’13-’14 and even more worrisome at 28% in ’14-’15.
If blended learning is such a recipe for success, wouldn’t this innovative school of choice had experienced the success PIE claims it will achieve with its similar approach?
Red Flag 10: The Board of Trustees is controlled by an out-of-state Pathways Management Group, Not the Community
In addition to the fact that the potential trustees listed in the applications appendices do not include any community members listed in Caldwell, the Board itself is not the top prong in the hierarchy.
Instead, an out of state entity, Education in Motion Inc (EIM), will have the sole authority to appoint and remove board members of the local Caldwell charter school. So much for local community control.
But wait: it gets better. Not only will EIM have sole authority over board members, but those members don’t even have to live in Idaho. Nope, according to the proposal only a majority of members must live in Idaho. See Page 69 more for information.
But hey, maybe life is better when the board members who control your local school don’t even live in the state. Who knows?
I don’t know any better way to say it. This application has enough red flags that the community should be alarmed and should ask for thorough scrutiny of it by Caldwell School District Board members.
There will be a community meeting to discuss the proposal June 6th at 6PM at the Caldwell School District office.
I would encourage any alarmed community members to reach out to the CSD Board of trustees in the meantime: