On charter schools, the ends justify the means for the Wheeling News-Register
Today’s paper uses two out-of-context quotes in its editorial on charter schools in West Virginia
Today’s editorial, “Writing Rules For Charters,” concludes:
The new law makes it difficult enough to establish a charter school in West Virginia. In writing specific regulations, state officials should take care not to make the endeavor impossible.
That may be the editorial's thesis. Early in the editorial, it explains:
As we reported, state and some local school officials met earlier this month to discuss rules for charters. Though the new law is quite detailed, the state Department of Education is charged with writing specific regulations. That work must be completed by Jan. 1, according to the statute.
“We have a very watered-down charter bill, quite frankly,” state school Superintendent Steve Paine admitted to the Charleston Gazette-Mail. Some local education officials, including Ohio County Board of Education member Sarah Koegler, who attended the meeting, “don’t see a need for charter schools . . .”
The Koegler quote is clearly out-of-context. Here is the original without the ellipses as the Intelligencer reported last Monday:
“In Ohio County, we don’t see a need for charter schools, but we want our board to set the criteria for any charter applying for a school in the county. Whether or not we would say yes, we don’t want the state to dictate to us,” Koegler said.
Obviously, Koegler is qualifying her statement. As I documented last week, Koegler is employed by Teach For America and consequently, she would probably like to see charter schools in the state. On the other hand, she may also want to get re-elected in a school district with activist teachers which probably explains her qualifier.
The News-Register, however, throws her under the bus in order to make its case.
Superintendent Paine’s quote is a bit more complex. Paine’s comment comes from an article by reporter Erin Beck in mid-August at least three weeks before last week’s meeting. Here are the relevant paragraphs; note that the context for his quoted comment is part of an explanation as to how an advocacy group in favor of charter schools views the bill and why he thinks they are against it.
Meanwhile, Paine said the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools hadn’t been interested in assisting the state Board of Education, which is charged with designing the charter school policy by January 2020. It will need to create instructions on how to apply and training for authorizers, among other responsibilities.
Paine said he has known Nina Rees, president of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, for a good while, and had contacted that organization for assistance.
“They’re less than enamored with the bill,” he said. “We have a very watered-down charter schools bill, quite frankly.”
He said he didn’t think he “gained anything” from his conversation with them.
“They don’t think it’s going to work,” he said.
A paragraph later, Paine added even more context:
“They’re used to dealing with private companies that try to make money off of charter schools,” Paine said. “There are many diverse authorizers that are out there and they think the more the merrier.”
My conclusion: Paine is specifically talking about why the National Alliance has not helped the state. While the “watered down” part may still apply, the editorial doesn’t mention that his comments were made weeks before last week’s meeting and before the state has designed a charter school policy (which appears to be the reason why the National Alliance has refused to help). It would have been nice if our editorial writer had bothered to ask Paine if he now thinks rules will be written governing charter schools. That would have taken some work; it also might not have supported the editorial’s premise.
Two misrepresentations of what sources said and the first was clearly deliberate. (I’ll give the editorial a break on the second one and attribute it to lazy or sloppy research.) Why am I not shocked? It’s an Ogden “newspaper.”