SSNCT and Charter School Eligibility

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SSNCT and Charter School Eligibility

Post by quizbowllee » Wed Aug 31, 2016 10:44 am

I've made many arguments in the past about how Charter Schools have an inherent advantage over other public "Small Schools." Then I saw this article:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/edu ... c-schools/

I'm hoping that NAQT will revisit the classification of Charter Schools as "Public" both in light of this article and in light of the many arguments that have already been made.
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Re: SSNCT and Charter School Eligibility

Post by Antrobus63 » Wed Sep 07, 2016 3:21 pm

Do you mean that you object to charters being classified as "small chools" (you wrote "public)? If so, I get your point, but all charter schools are different. True, there are charters that capture specialized populations, but ours (Lehigh Valley Academy) is very small and comprised mostly of lower-to-middle income minority students. Building a team here is been even more difficult than it would be at a normal public high school (I know this because my job involves dealing with all kinds of schools); most kids at LVA cannot stay after school for activities because they don't drive and their parents can't afford to get off work to pick them up on a regular basis. The administration and parents still don't know understand what I'm trying to do. So, while I sympathize with your position to some degree (it doesn't seem fair to play against charters that are filled with professors' kids), I can't agree with a ban on all charters.
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Re: SSNCT and Charter School Eligibility

Post by Ithaca Cricket Ump » Sat Sep 17, 2016 8:34 pm

The definition of "selectivity" among charter schools can also be quite dicey. Not meaning to single out AMSA, but I'll just use them as an example here of one type of selectivity that does go on at charter schools that have random-lottery admissions: self-selectivity. I highly doubt that there are very many, if any at all, average to below-average students that apply to attend a school called "Advanced Math and Science Academy". There may not be much that can be done ABOUT that self-selectivity short of a total ban on charter schools at SSNCT, but it certainly exists. There is also a subset of charter schools that don't practice selectivity in their ADMISSIONS (making them eligible for SSNCT if they're below the limit for number of students), but they sure as shootin' practice selectivity on the OPPOSITE end, being quick to eject any student that they don't think is meeting their standards. To an extent, public schools are stuck with students, unless they do something criminal or really stupid. Charter schools can pick and choose who they want to keep around, even given a semi-random matriculating class, and sometimes they just do it when deciding who to kick out, rather than who to admit.
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Re: SSNCT and Charter School Eligibility

Post by quizbowllee » Mon Sep 19, 2016 9:09 am

Scott hits the nail right on the head.

The following is a response I sent to R. Hentzel via e-mail when we were discussing this very issue. I could retype all of this, but my response to him sums up my feelings (and the feelings of many people I have talked to) perfectly:

<<<<A charter school that has a lottery system is vastly different than a traditional public school. Consider this: a public high school - like West Point - takes in every single student that lives in a predetermined geographical area. Period. We take in the students who want to excel. But, we also take in the students who have absolutely no desire to be there. We take in the students whose parents have to be served through our truancy court and threatened with jail to force their kids to come. We take in the kids who make it a point to disrupt our classes and who plan simply to be a thorn in our sides until the magical day they turn 17 and can drop out. And, we try with all of our might to change these students’ perceptions and to reach them. Sometimes it even works. But, every one of those students takes time and resources away from those students who are here to learn and to thrive academically.

Now, with a charter school that uses a lottery, things are vastly different. Those students are in that drawing because SOMEONE wants a better education for that student. The bowl or bucket or hat or random number generator that they are chosen from is full of the names of students who desperately WANT to attend that school and will theoretically behave in a manner that indicates a desire to stay in that school. If they do not, they will be kicked out and the next kid on the waitlist will take their place. Traditional schools do not have that option. That is one huge difference.

Another difference is the way the school works once a student is admitted. Just because a school doesn’t require a student to meet certain standards to get in doesn’t mean that they don’t have stringent rules for who gets to stay in. Again, a traditional school will have to put forth a great deal of effort and resources towards struggling students who simply do not care about school. However, a charter school can have stipulations that require that students meet certain academic criteria in order to remain enrolled - even if they didn’t have to meet said criteria for initial enrollment. At a lottery school, they know that if a student can’t reach a certain standard, then there is another student waiting to take that spot.

Finally, imagine that you are a parent or student who is frustrated with the traditional public school system. You or your child is struggling to keep up and you feel strongly that it is because the traditional public school in your area is deficient in some way. So, in order to help yourself or your child, you are looking for a charter school alternative that will meet the needs of a struggling student that has fallen through the cracks of traditional schools. Are you really going to apply to a school with a name like “Advanced Math and Science Academy” or “Harmony Science?” Probably not.

Why not?

Because, like I said last year, the very names of some of these schools serve to limit their potential student body to those who are looking for a challenging, rigorous curriculum. Your average student - much less your struggling one - is not going to apply for admission to a school with a name like “Advanced Math and Science Academy.” Therefore, you have a charter school made up entirely of students who wanted to attend an institution tailored towards advanced students.

As to your second question: I don’t know that there is an objective way to distinguish between the different
types of charter schools for the purposes of SSNCT. I think it’s fairly easy to do in a highly non-objective way. Any charter school with the word “advanced” or the name of a specific academic discipline in its name is probably a “de facto magnet school” as you said. Corporate run schools like BASIS also come to mind in this regard. I actually couldn’t even find a definitive answer to what that acronym even stands for….

But, as I stated, that’s not objective at all. And there are surely other “de facto magnet schools” that don’t meet this “what’s in a name” criteria. Honestly, I think the only thing to do is exclude all charter schools from SSNCT. I really wish that had been the case from day one. The other option would be to award a “Top Non-Charter Trophy” at SSNCT, but that kind of defeats the purpose of divorcing SSNCT from HSNCT in the first place. Also, that would basically be admitting that you expect a charter school to virtually always win SSNCT. They have won 2 out of 3 (the LAST 2) so far….

All I know is that many, many coaches of schools at SSNCT have felt that the charter schools never should have been included in the first place. Even some of the staff at the tournament told me (unsolicitedly and in private) that they were hoping that anyone but one of the charter schools would win.

I hope this hasn’t been too verbose and that it answers your questions. I truly appreciate all that you do and am always honored when you seek my input. It means a lot to me.

Thanks,

Lee>>>>
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Re: SSNCT and Charter School Eligibility

Post by Kevin » Mon Sep 19, 2016 12:40 pm

I think a number of points raised here are very valid, especially in regards to the fact that charter schools are often able to expel students (or otherwise ask them to leave) much more easily than traditional public schools.

However, the issue of school names strikes me as a rather silly basis for a rule. In New Orleans, for example, whose public high schools are mostly charters, plenty of high schools (and middle/elementary schools) have "science" or "technology" or "math" or something similar in their names. The ongoing obsession with STEM is only going to lead more schools around the country to add buzzwords into their names. For many schools, it's more of a marketing ploy than anything else.
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Re: SSNCT and Charter School Eligibility

Post by quizbowllee » Mon Sep 19, 2016 1:34 pm

Kevin wrote:I think a number of points raised here are very valid, especially in regards to the fact that charter schools are often able to expel students (or otherwise ask them to leave) much more easily than traditional public schools.

However, the issue of school names strikes me as a rather silly basis for a rule. In New Orleans, for example, whose public high schools are mostly charters, plenty of high schools (and middle/elementary schools) have "science" or "technology" or "math" or something similar in their names. The ongoing obsession with STEM is only going to lead more schools around the country to add buzzwords into their names. For many schools, it's more of a marketing ploy than anything else.
You're kind of agreeing with my argument. I even said that the criteria of disqualifying a team because of the name of their school was very non-objective. The only objective way is to disallow charter schools as a whole. I understand why charter school teams who have been allowed to compete at SSNCT thus far would be very much against this. I would be, too, if I was coaching at a charter school and had competed at SSNCT in the past. I just don't understand why charter schools were EVER allowed at SSNCT in the first place. It seems that virtually every argument for NOT allowing small private schools can also be made for not allowing small charter schools.
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Re: SSNCT and Charter School Eligibility

Post by bretthogan43 » Mon Sep 19, 2016 8:55 pm

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Last edited by bretthogan43 on Tue Sep 05, 2017 7:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: SSNCT and Charter School Eligibility

Post by Important Bird Area » Mon Sep 19, 2016 10:31 pm

Just wanted to note that NAQT is paying attention to this thread (and to commentary more generally from teams about how SSNCT works). We're working on potential revisions to SSNCT eligibility policy; expect an announcement in the next few weeks.
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Re: SSNCT and Charter School Eligibility

Post by bsmith » Tue Sep 20, 2016 11:47 am

On the other side of the coin, a coach inquired about Merivale in Ottawa for SSNCT last year (note: the players weren't really interested and we didn't press it further). Merivale met the attendance criterion, is a public non-religious school, and must accept anyone within its boundaries. They were denied on the basis of having gifted classes…

…that attracted 34 students within a designated boundary (2015 data). The freshmen cohort had a population of 6. Lisgar and Colonel By had 378 and 211 gifted students, for comparison, and three of the six Ottawa schools that have more gifted students than Merivale don't even have gifted classes. Parents are transferring their kids away from Merivale as fast as they can.

I don't mind if Merivale is still denied based on NAQT's own criteria, but it doesn't look like the criteria are consistent based on these anecdotes/complaints about selective schools south of the border.
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Re: SSNCT and Charter School Eligibility

Post by quizbowllee » Tue Sep 20, 2016 1:59 pm

So.... is there anyone out there who ISN'T affiliated with a Charter School who legitimately thinks it's a good idea to allow charter schools in SSNCT? Really? Not just for the sake of being a contrarian, but who truly believes that charter schools and regular, public small schools are on the same footing in regards to SSNCT? If so, please chime in.
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Re: SSNCT and Charter School Eligibility

Post by Important Bird Area » Tue Sep 20, 2016 2:01 pm

It's not just the presence of gifted classes, it's that Merivale was (like Bell and Lisgar) one of the Ottawa schools designated as a gifted centre for students from other schools.

(list here, where Merivale is marked as the "Gifted Centre" for the students from Brookfield and Longfields-Davidson)
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Re: SSNCT and Charter School Eligibility

Post by Cheynem » Tue Sep 20, 2016 3:04 pm

I think charter schools, as long as they fit the size restrictions, should be allowed to play SSNCT, yes.
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Re: SSNCT and Charter School Eligibility

Post by Rococo A Go Go » Tue Sep 20, 2016 3:50 pm

Charter schools are not operated by a government authority, but instead are operated by private contractors (which range from for-profit corporations to churches which teach students that Jesus rode dinosaurs) who receive subsidies for their educational firm. While the definition of "public" is somewhat ill-defined at times, I just don't see how charter schools meet a definition of "public," even though they argue they should be considered as such for public relations reasons. Government subsidies do not transform private businesses, churches, or nonprofits into public schools any more than they transform military contractors, agribusiness, or electric car companies into divisions of the government.
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Re: SSNCT and Charter School Eligibility

Post by quizbowllee » Tue Sep 20, 2016 5:02 pm

Cheynem wrote:I think charter schools, as long as they fit the size restrictions, should be allowed to play SSNCT, yes.
Should private schools that fit the size restrictions be allowed to play SSNCT, then?

What's the difference?
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Re: SSNCT and Charter School Eligibility

Post by Cheynem » Tue Sep 20, 2016 5:32 pm

I think the distinction is that private schools generally have some form of selective admissions policies which not all charter schools have. Private schools can say things like "you have to be Christian/male/over 300 pounds" to join, while charter schools do not. Charter schools are defined as public more or less in most legal frameworks (although not all and it's obviously a contentious issue)--I don't think NAQT should get to declare by fiat, that contra society's definition, charter schools are private, not public.

Anyway, this idea that "oh no, charter schools will totally dominate SSNCT" seems specious. First of all, I don't think there's anything inherently wrong in suggesting that some schools are going to have advantages over others. Secondly, there's been three SSNCTs so far. Charter schools have won 2 out of the 3. Hallsville won the first--that's a public school--they almost won the 2nd too.

At last year's SSNCT, a charter school won, but Macomb (a public school) took second. Leigh Valley, a charter school, took third. Southwestern (public) and West Point (public schools) were next. Both of the top finishing charter schools lost matches at one point to public schools. It's a small sample size, but to me it indicates that basically, teams with good programs/players/coaches are going to do well. If Hallsvile and Macomb had won a couple more matches, no charter school would ever have won SSNCT, and then this argument would seem weird.

I played and won the first ever Small School Championship for NAQT. I went to a very small public high school. We believed we were good enough to contend with anyone--charter, public, private. I don't deny that charter schools have some advantages, but they also don't guarantee quizbowl success--kids who want to achieve or get good grades might not be interested in quizbowl. A public school with a few committed kids and a strong coach is probably far better than an average charter school.
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Re: SSNCT and Charter School Eligibility

Post by dhumphreys17 » Tue Sep 20, 2016 5:56 pm

Cheynem wrote:I think the distinction is that private schools generally have some form of selective admissions policies which not all charter schools have. Private schools can say things like "you have to be Christian/male/over 300 pounds" to join, while charter schools do not. Charter schools are defined as public more or less in most legal frameworks (although not all and it's obviously a contentious issue)--I don't think NAQT should get to declare by fiat, that contra society's definition, charter schools are private, not public.

Anyway, this idea that "oh no, charter schools will totally dominate SSNCT" seems specious. First of all, I don't think there's anything inherently wrong in suggesting that some schools are going to have advantages over others. Secondly, there's been three SSNCTs so far. Charter schools have won 2 out of the 3. Hallsville won the first--that's a public school--they almost won the 2nd too.

At last year's SSNCT, a charter school won, but Macomb (a public school) took second. Leigh Valley, a charter school, took third. Southwestern (public) and West Point (public schools) were next. Both of the top finishing charter schools lost matches at one point to public schools. It's a small sample size, but to me it indicates that basically, teams with good programs/players/coaches are going to do well. If Hallsvile and Macomb had won a couple more matches, no charter school would ever have won SSNCT, and then this argument would seem weird.

I played and won the first ever Small School Championship for NAQT. I went to a very small public high school. We believed we were good enough to contend with anyone--charter, public, private. I don't deny that charter schools have some advantages, but they also don't guarantee quizbowl success--kids who want to achieve or get good grades might not be interested in quizbowl. A public school with a few committed kids and a strong coach is probably far better than an average charter school.
I would simply note that by that logic, Sacred Heart and other schools like it should be able to participate in SSNCT. Sacred Heart has an all-faiths-are-welcome policy that precludes selective admissions, and the post-admission selectivity discussed earlier doesn't exist here. To restate Dr. Cheyne's later point: a public school with good kids and coaching can out-do most private schools (the best example I have in that regard is Troy on the Michigan circuit). Do I agree with this logic? Kind of, but only in the sense that some schools that we play against regularly (Fulton, White Cloud) are allowed into SSNCT while we aren't. However, as much as I understand the reason why our school isn't allowed in (we charge tuition which is seen as de facto selectivity), I can't help but note that this post is an argument for otherwise non-selective schools to be let into SSNCT.
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Re: SSNCT and Charter School Eligibility

Post by Rococo A Go Go » Tue Sep 20, 2016 7:09 pm

To take Devin's point further: if Michigan developed a school voucher system that provided public funds to pay for students to attend Sacred Heart free of charge, they would still be ineligible for SSNCT to the best of my knowledge. Even if Sacred Heart admitted students by lottery (since presumably demand for a free, non-selective private school would be quite high) they would still be ineligible. I'm fine with a set of rules that would prohibit hypothetically voucher-receiving Sacred Heart from playing SSNCT, but they should also prohibit other privately run schools that receive government subsidies from playing SSNCT as well.
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Re: SSNCT and Charter School Eligibility

Post by Rufous-capped Thornbill » Tue Sep 20, 2016 8:18 pm

I've got several thoughts about this topic floating around, so I hope this post communicates them in a meaningful manner.
Cheynem wrote:I think the distinction is that private schools generally have some form of selective admissions policies which not all charter schools have. Private schools can say things like "you have to be Christian/male/over 300 pounds" to join, while charter schools do not. Charter schools are defined as public more or less in most legal frameworks (although not all and it's obviously a contentious issue)--I don't think NAQT should get to declare by fiat, that contra society's definition, charter schools are private, not public.

Anyway, this idea that "oh no, charter schools will totally dominate SSNCT" seems specious. First of all, I don't think there's anything inherently wrong in suggesting that some schools are going to have advantages over others. Secondly, there's been three SSNCTs so far. Charter schools have won 2 out of the 3. Hallsville won the first--that's a public school--they almost won the 2nd too.

At last year's SSNCT, a charter school won, but Macomb (a public school) took second. Leigh Valley, a charter school, took third. Southwestern (public) and West Point (public schools) were next. Both of the top finishing charter schools lost matches at one point to public schools. It's a small sample size, but to me it indicates that basically, teams with good programs/players/coaches are going to do well. If Hallsvile and Macomb had won a couple more matches, no charter school would ever have won SSNCT, and then this argument would seem weird.

I played and won the first ever Small School Championship for NAQT. I went to a very small public high school. We believed we were good enough to contend with anyone--charter, public, private. I don't deny that charter schools have some advantages, but they also don't guarantee quizbowl success--kids who want to achieve or get good grades might not be interested in quizbowl. A public school with a few committed kids and a strong coach is probably far better than an average charter school.
I think Mike makes some very good and valid points in this post, and I would be inclined to agree with the sentiment expressed, but only if this were a few years ago, and the SSNCT did not exist as a separate event. Back when the Small School Championship was a part of the HSNCT, it acted as a sort of side-event: once you were knocked out of the main HSNCT playoffs (if you qualified), you played against your fellow Small Schools. Though the SS championship was certainly one of the main draws of HSNCT for teams like my high school and surely others, it was not the main event. It used the same questions as the HSNCT and if you won, you placed no higher in the overall standings. However, by instituting a separate small school national tournament, with separate questions of a distinctly easier difficulty, NAQT not only made their small school championship the main event, but sent a very clear message that it was for schools who maybe couldn't hack it as well at HSNCT. By choosing to host the SSNCT as they do, on the questions that they do, NAQT creates an expectation that the SSNCT is, well, an easier national tournament, for schools that aren't as good as the bigger ones. This is often not necessarily the case (indeed, like Mike, my South Range team that won in 2010 felt we could hang with anyone, and we placed highly at Ohio events all year), but by creating an entirely separate tournament with easier questions, this is the message being sent. Not only that, but it created a choice that many small schools have to make: do you go to HSNCT, or SSNCT (or NSC)? Smaller schools, on average, have less resources than bigger schools. By allowing charters and other schools like it, NAQT creates an asymmetric system in which their tournament for schools with less resources runs the risk of being dominated, maybe not every year, but consistently, by teams with more resources, both in players and actual money, time, etc. That seems to run counter to the entire purpose of creating the SSNCT in the first place!*

However, the question then becomes, what is to be done? And that's where I agree with Mike that I don't think NAQT will have much interest in wading into the current discourse about public and private schools, the definition of charters and all that (the fact that almost every public school in Louisiana, and a growing number nationwide is now a charter makes any reform incredibly tricky). But the fact remains that even though there will undoubtedly be years in which a team from a true public small school wins SSNCT, the asymmetry of resources involved in the world of small schools as currently defined will ensure that your Harmonys, your AMSAS, will always be in contention, always beating teams that it would appear SSNCT is designed for.

I hope this makes sense!

*this is totally ignoring the reasonable assumption that the main reason that NAQT created the SSNCT was to expand the field size of the HSNCT without risking breaking their logistics or staff pool
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Re: SSNCT and Charter School Eligibility

Post by alexdz » Wed Sep 21, 2016 12:30 am

One possible route to take might be to consider some kind of "multiplier" on the size of all selective-admissions schools. While I don't think the way MSHSAA runs Missouri scholar bowl is the best method, one thing they do consider is how to minimize the inherent advantages of private schools. One way in which that happens is by multiplying the official enrollment number by a certain amount (1 point something) and considering the result to be that school's enrollment for classification purposes. What this effectively does in many (though not all) cases is bump these schools into a higher class for the state series.

NAQT could consider instituting a similar policy, which would not necessarily prohibit all selective-admissions schools from competing at SSNCT, but it might disallow the ones who are on the high-enrollment end of what is allowed by SSNCT standards and thus presumably have the most resources. I suppose, in a way, this would be a way of basically trying to make the largest allowed public school roughly equivalent in estimated resources to the largest allowed selective school.
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Re: SSNCT and Charter School Eligibility

Post by Kevin » Wed Sep 21, 2016 9:27 am

Rufous-capped Thornbill wrote:And that's where I agree with Mike that I don't think NAQT will have much interest in wading into the current discourse about public and private schools, the definition of charters and all that (the fact that almost every public school in Louisiana, and a growing number nationwide is now a charter makes any reform incredibly tricky).
Most public high schools in Louisiana are still traditional, district-run high schools. However, New Orleans in particular has a huge number of charter schools.
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Re: SSNCT and Charter School Eligibility

Post by Antrobus63 » Fri Oct 07, 2016 4:13 pm

WARNING: LONG, DETAILED POST TO FOLLOW!

This is certainly a fit subject for discussion among rational people with legitimately different points of view, but some posts in this thread are less equal than others:
Charter schools are not operated by a government authority, but instead are operated by private contractors (which range from for-profit corporations to churches which teach students that Jesus rode dinosaurs) who receive subsidies for their educational firm.
Wow.

The Washington Post article referenced by Coach Henry has the advantage of being based in reality—and seems at first glance to support the contention that charters are really private schools in disguise—but, if you actually read it, the piece addresses a specific legal case heard by the National Labor Relations Board “involving unionization efforts at charter schools in New York and in Pennsylvania.” In its decision, an NLRB board member writes: “The labor board’s definition of public vs. private is so specific that it must be evaluated case by case.”

As a former union member myself, I sympathize with the plight of charter school teachers, who do not get paid what their traditional public school counterparts do. But how does having lower-paid, non-tenured instructors support Coach Henry’s case that charter students have an inherent advantage over students from traditional public schools?

YES, VIRGINIA, CHARTER SCHOOLS ARE PUBLIC SCHOOLS

Rather than lump all charter schools into one monolithic mass, I prefer to use facts with which I am personally familiar to argue that charter schools are indeed public schools.

It is true that Pennsylvania’s charter schools do have more autonomy than traditional public schools in choosing and implementing their educational philosophy, but they are equally accountable to the state for their performance.

The proponents of a proposed charter school must first submit its mission statement/charter to the district in which they plan to set up shop and explain, at a board meeting, how the new school will meet the state standards for all public schools while supplying a unique educational vision that cannot be met elsewhere in the area. If the district approves its charter, the school must then prove, on a regular basis, that it is holding to its stated mission while still meeting state educational standards. Here, too, the charter school administrators must answer questions at public board meetings from board members and private citizens. If the school is found wanting, the parent district can revoke its charter and shut it down.

CAN CHARTER SCHOOLS PICK AND CHOOSE THEIR STUDENTS?

Please indulge me while I share verifiable details about the two charter schools that my sons have attended here in Pennsylvania

The first charter my sons have attended is Seven Generations Charter School in Emmaus, which was founded by liberal-minded adults with a focus on environmental and social responsibility. The school has never had prerequisites for enrollment, as the founders thought this would be contrary to the school’s mission; kids only enter a lottery when their target grade is close to capacity. If there are empty seats, students are automatically enrolled.

This is what Seven Generations looked like in its last official ‘snapshot,’ in 2015:

Racial Composition
Asian (not Hispanic) 1.79%
Black or African American (not Hispanic) 12.5%
Hispanic (any race) 15.31%
Multi-Racial (not Hispanic) 6.89%
White (not Hispanic) 63.27%

Also:
Economically disadvantaged 22%
Special education 22%

http://www.paschoolperformance.org/Profile/15024

Here is the school’s academic performance on state-mandated testing:

Math
Below basic 42%
Basic 29.2%
Proficient 20.8%
Advanced 8%

English Language Arts/Literature
Below basic 12.3%
Basic 33%
Proficient 44.3%
Advanced 10%

Science/Biology

Below basic 15.5%
Basic 15.5%
Proficient 43.1%
Advanced 25.9%

http://eseafedreport.com/Content/report ... 008084.PDF

Does this look like an elite, corporate school?

If you click on the link and sort through the performance by grade level, you will find that the older the kids, the worse the performance. Why? Because when charters attach no entrance requirements to admission, they tend to attract families who are looking for ANY alternative to their local public schools; this invariably includes a large percentage of kids with special education needs and behavioral problems but seldom with any real interest in the school’s core mission. Having volunteered at both the lower and middle-school grades at Seven Generations, I can attest to the dramatic difference between the younger kids, who care about the school’s ‘green’ mission, and the older kids, most of whom have just enrolled and don’t give a shit about it.

As more kids with learning and behavioral issues flow into the school in the upper grades, where there are plenty of empty seats/no lottery, the academically advanced and proficient kids tend to flow out. Thus, the one inherent advantage that charter schools are supposed to have is actually turned on its head; charter schools without entrance requirements have more behavior and performance headaches than traditional public schools do.

Oh, and just like other public schools, charters are not allowed to eject kids for underperformance or anything short of flagrant disciplinary problems. And even then, court-mandated due process must be observed. So, no, charters cannot simply throw out kids whenever it seems convenient.

CHARTERS ARE FUNDED BY EVIL CORPORATIONS

Maybe some are, but I don’t know any in our area. Funding-wise, Seven Generations subsists almost entirely on tax dollars from the kids’ home districts, albeit at a state mandated lower-percentage-per-student than is allocated to regular public schools. So, the school is chronically underfunded, the staff underpaid, the teachers unprotected by a union… all of which results in many more annual defections, of employees and students, from charters than traditional public schools see.

Yes, Seven Generations is allowed to raise its own money but since few of its families have corporate connections, it raises very little. Also, let’s not forget that public schools routinely raise their own corporate revenue via contracts with for-profit entities like soft drink companies and national test prep purveyors like Kaplan.

PRE-ADMISSION TESTING DOES NOT EQUAL UN-NATURAL SELECTION

Moving on to Lehigh Valley Academy, where my son Alex is now a junior:

Racial Composition
American Indian/Alaskan Native (not Hispanic) 0.13%
Asian (not Hispanic) 6.3 %
Black or African American (not Hispanic) 14.07 %
Hispanic (any race) 29.15 %
Multi-Racial (not Hispanic) 12.73 %
White (not Hispanic) 37.62 %

Also:
Economically Disadvantaged 36.87%
English Language Learner 3.88 %
Special Education 8.27 %

http://www.paschoolperformance.org/Profile/7153

Academic Performance on State-mandated testing:

Math
Below basic 20.9%
Basic 34.7%
Proficient 30.4%
Advanced 14%

English Language Arts/Literature
Below basic 4%
Basic 22.5%
Proficient 48.7%
Advanced 24.8%

Science/Biology
Below basic 8.5%
Basic 9.3%
Proficient 32.6%
Advanced 49.6%

table-breaking link

So, LVA has even more underprivileged kids and a more diverse population than Seven Generations, yet its academic results are better. Why? Because LVA is an IB (International Baccalaureate) school which places its primary focus on academic achievement. Kids who go to LVA know that they will be forced to work in a systematic manner and that they will have lots of homework. Right off the bat, that scares a lot of kids away. Is that unfair self-selection?

Applicants for LVA are tested first, yes, but they are not denied entry or favored based on their test results. (Alex tests well but was put into the regular lottery like everybody else, and his number was not drawn until a month into his freshman year; my second son tests well, too, but his number was not called this year, so we’ll try again in 2017.) Instead, these test results determine the grade level in which the new students will be slotted if they enter LVA; kids whose skills are below basic level may be asked to repeat a previous grade. You could call this ‘selectivity,’ but surely this is not the sort of Darwinist elitism that would produce an unfair competitive advantage at SSNCT.

WHY LVA SHOULD BE ALLOWED TO PARTICIPATE IN SSNCT

I cannot speak with confidence about AMSA, BASIS or other non-Pennsylvania charters, but I can verify that while LVA does an excellent job of firming up the bulk of its population, its offerings for gifted and advanced students are practically non-existent. Alex has already exhausted the math and history offerings at LVA, so we’re sending him to some college classes to supplement his education.

Lehigh Valley Academy also has a dearth of extracurricular activities. I started the academic team, which doesn’t get any money from the school. Also, I receive no stipend, unlike many public school coaches. In 2015-16, the first year that Alex had any teammates, we were able to attend several regional tournaments but none of the other kids could afford to attend SSNCT or NHHB, so Alex and I went alone.

Now that I have recruited more students, we will hopefully be able to raise enough money the old-fashioned way (running a tournament, selling baked goods, doing a clothing drive, etc.) to send a full team to a national tournament, but we may never be able to send a full team to two national events. Right now, though I would prefer to go to HSNCT or PACE, my kids favor shooting for SSNCT because we have a decent shot at winning the title. In the end, it’s the kids’ club so they will decide where we go—that is, unless NAQT takes away our Small School status thiss year which, since the 2016-17 school year has already started, would be very disappointing.

In 2017-18, I am hoping to persuade the kids to go to HSNCT or PACE instead of SSNCT, because I think we will be legitimate contenders for those titles but, post-Alex, it seems doubtful that LVA will ever be able to compete on that level. Indeed it will face an enormous challenge just to earn an invite to HSNCT or PACE. Personally, I think it would be great if SSNCT became an annual thing for LVA long after my family is done there.

WHY WE ARE AT LVA

At this point, it would be reasonable to ask: If LVA is as problematic as I say, why am I sending my kid there? Well, we live in Allentown, which has crappy public schools, so my other options are a private school we can’t afford, a less-expensive parochial school that is not terrible but has glaring weaknesses, or a free charter school that, while problematic, is still better than our other choices. Hope that makes sense.

LASTLY… IS THIS REALLY ABOUT PRINCIPLE? REALLY?

This argument should be strictly about whether or not small charter schools have an unfair competitive advantage over traditional public schools of equivalent size. But if this is all about principle, where are the other outraged voices? Surely, the coaches at dozens of traditional small schools should see the injustice in having any charter school compete at SSNCT? If they are out there, they should weigh in with their own arguments.

My guess is that at least part of this is simply about winning the damn tournament. A quick look at last year’s SSNCT results and team composition (returning underclassmen) will show that West Point is one of several traditional public schools that would directly benefit from the removal of LVA and other charters from the competition. So, let’s at least be honest about the entire context in which this subject is being debated.
Peter Schmidt
Coach, Lehigh Valley Academy
Columbia '84, Yale '88
Owner and Teacher, Prepare Test Preparation

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Re: SSNCT and Charter School Eligibility

Post by Cheynem » Fri Oct 07, 2016 4:28 pm

Good post.
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Re: SSNCT and Charter School Eligibility

Post by Rococo A Go Go » Fri Oct 07, 2016 10:32 pm

I am very pleased that my comments draw the ire of people who don't agree with them. I stand by them fully. Charter schools are not public schools. I don't care whether or not Virginia believes me.

EDIT: I would also like to add that nothing in my "less equal" comments diverge much from the stated position of people like Diane Ravitch. While this is certainly a matter of opinion, dismissing viewpoints you don't like as extraordinarily unreasonable simply because you disagree with them is nonsense that I'm not going to engage with beyond brief snarky responses.

EDIT(2): Because I'm actually a bit ticked off by the specific passage that was so extreme, let me refer interested parties to the Dallas Morning-News, whose article about a prominent chain of Texas charter schools describes some of the thinly-veiled religious extremism motivating many charter schools into existence. I don't deny that many charter schools (apparently including Lehigh Valley) would never engaged in such behavior, but pretending that this isn't something that comes up as an issue with charter schools repeatedly is just willful ignorance.
Last edited by Rococo A Go Go on Fri Oct 07, 2016 10:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: SSNCT and Charter School Eligibility

Post by AKKOLADE » Fri Oct 07, 2016 10:56 pm

Charter schools should be allowed to play SSNCT.

Private schools should be allowed to play SSNCT.

If you don't want to lose to those teams, then get good(er).

The purpose of a national championship is to determine the best team in the country. If you're going to host a small school national championship, then allow teams from schools with low enrollments compete. If all it took to have a good quiz bowl team was to have a selective admissions policy, we'd have way more LASAs in our world then we do.

Preventing teams from competing for a title because you don't like the politics that allowed their school to be created is as bad as any other anti-competitive teams rule that would be instituted by the Illinois High School Association and lead to complaints from people on this forum for being a practice of bad quiz bowl.

If you want to add a sub-clhampionship for non-recruitment schools, sure, go hog wild.

The purpose of a game, or tournament, of quiz bowl is to find the best quiz bowl team. Deviating from that purpose for any reason causes more harm to the game than anything like hoses, poorly written questions, not keeping stats, math comp tossups or any other easily embraced stance.
Fred Morlan
PACE President, 2018-19
International Quiz Bowl Tournaments, co-owner
University of Kentucky CoP, 2017
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Re: SSNCT and Charter School Eligibility

Post by Rococo A Go Go » Fri Oct 07, 2016 11:02 pm

AKKOLADE wrote:Charter schools should be allowed to play SSNCT.

Private schools should be allowed to play SSNCT.

If you don't want to lose to those teams, then get good(er).

The purpose of a national championship is to determine the best team in the country. If you're going to host a small school national championship, then allow teams from schools with low enrollments compete. If all it took to have a good quiz bowl team was to have a selective admissions policy, we'd have way more LASAs in our world then we do.

Preventing teams from competing for a title because you don't like the politics that allowed their school to be created is as bad as any other anti-competitive teams rule that would be instituted by the Illinois High School Association and lead to complaints from people on this forum for being a practice of bad quiz bowl.

If you want to add a sub-clhampionship for non-recruitment schools, sure, go hog wild.

The purpose of a game, or tournament, of quiz bowl is to find the best quiz bowl team. Deviating from that purpose for any reason causes more harm to the game than anything like hoses, poorly written questions, not keeping stats, math comp tossups or any other easily embraced stance.
This position is more consistent than what is being argued by charter school defenders, who believe their schools should be allowed to compete, but not small parochial schools or highly selective schools with tiny enrollments.
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Louisville, KY

"Your Honor, years ago I recognized my kinship with all living beings, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on earth. I said then, and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it, and while there is a criminal element I am of it, and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free."--Eugene V. Debs

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Re: SSNCT and Charter School Eligibility

Post by Rococo A Go Go » Fri Oct 07, 2016 11:30 pm

I have to say this, because it's not obvious from what I've said so far...I believe small schools are small schools and literally do not care how NAQT defines that beyond having a consistent policy that actually makes sense. I coached at a publicly funded school with roughly 120 students for two years that would be near the top of the pack at SSNCT every single year, but it was excluded because it was highly selective. I am not an expert on whether it's "fair" for the Gatton Academy to compete in a division with small, rural schools. I am not an expert on whether it's "fair" for charter schools, private schools, and whoever else meets the definition of "small" to compete against one another. I understand the benefits of having a tournament for the West Points and South Ranges of the world, but I also understand the benefits of allowing Gatton, Lehigh Valley, or Sacred Heart to compete

I do have a major problem with the distortion that we can squint our eyes and treat charter schools (with all the potential objections being lobbed at them from all sides) "public" and "non-selective" with wide latitude. If "public" and "non-selective" are meant to exclude all of the schools that actually are excluded, it does NOT seem "fair" to let other institutions skate by meeting shaky definitions of those terms. The policy as it stands now is not consistent or sensible. I am not advocating that specific people should be excluded from competing, as is being maintained by some people, but would like to see that value actually embraced in this discussion rather than being used to defend a double standard.
Nick Conder
Louisville, KY

"Your Honor, years ago I recognized my kinship with all living beings, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on earth. I said then, and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it, and while there is a criminal element I am of it, and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free."--Eugene V. Debs

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Re: SSNCT and Charter School Eligibility

Post by Cheynem » Fri Oct 07, 2016 11:35 pm

Your argument makes more sense as an inclusive argument rather than attacking the concept of charter schools not being public.
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Re: SSNCT and Charter School Eligibility

Post by Scottietodd » Sat Oct 08, 2016 6:23 pm

As coach of a competitive small school program at Glasgow, KY, I have been reading all of these posts with interest. I haven't posted so far because I think we are in the mix this year and didn't want to appear biased. I can see lots of good points on both sides and am very pleased to see the great participation in the thread by representatives from Kentucky quiz bowl college representatives. Thanks Nick and Fred for giving a crap beyond high school about an extra-curricular activity that can ONLY benefit our kids and academia in general. I figure if you guys are willing to chip in and even disagree with one another somewhat, the least I can do is man up and offer my thoughts.

First of all, Fred, I understand your premises, but if we strictly follow your argument, wouldn't we have to agree that by those same arguments SSNCT in general was pointless and that everyone should just get good(er).

I also read the article posted and agree with whoever said that while the article did call charter schools "private" that it did not seem to be because selectivity gave them some kind of inherent advantage.

As things stand right now, I am in favor of allowing charter schools to play in the SSNCT but would be opposed to private schools, or at least schools whose admission criteria would be to choose only the highest performing academic kids. In looking at our first 3 years of a separate tournament, I believe that teams like Hallsville, Glasgow, West Point, Russell etc... have held and will continue to hold their own overall. Yes, Harmony won year 2, AMSA ran the tables in year 3, and Lehigh has to be a favorite this year. But Macomb beat both AMSA and Lehigh last year while losing to West Point and S. Piasa. Lehigh also lost to West Point.

Also, look at the kids. AMSA came in 2nd in the first SSNCT with 3 sophomores that I had no doubt would win last year. I think they may have won the previous year too if they hadn't chosen NHBB.(Would have loved to see them play Harmony!) I was totally shocked and impressed that Macomb gave them a loss last year. But where are they now? They went 5-5 at their first tournament with around 275 ppg. I think those guys were special. Maybe they end up on the same team elsewhere or not, but they wanted it bad and worked for it. Henry Hawthorne was a beast at Harmony. Where are they? They only played in two tournaments last year with limited results. I'm pretty sure he would have been awesome wherever he was. I am also 100% certain that Alex's solo team would have been top 3 last year whether he was playing at a charter school or otherwise. Wherever Lehigh will be after Alex graduates will be due to Peter's efforts to create a program beyond Alex more than them being a charter school I suspect. To sum up these last thoughts, I'm not convinced that any of these programs' success can be mainly attributed to being from charter schools.

It is tough to decide what is fair when it comes to allowing participation in SSNCT. Is Glasgow selective? It is certainly the case that because of our consistently high performance on standardized testing for the past few years our enrollment is rising. In fact isn't 500 for grades 10-12 arbitrary? We are sitting around 490 right now at GHS, and will be close again next year, so if the threshold were at 475 we would be out.

Consider this. Olivia CHOSE to stay at GHS when she would have easily been accepted into the Gatton Academy less than 45 minutes away. (God bless her :smile: ) Fred and Nick, I'm just not convinced that Gatton or an academically selective school should be allowed in the SSNCT just because the SSNCT seems to by definition be an attempt to allow a subgroup to larger quiz bowl an opportunity to shine whereas Gatton's size is determined by its very academic selectivity. But I am willing to listen and be convinced. Despite the theory some have put out about creating the SSNCT in order to expand HSNCT, the fact is small schools all across the country are participating in a national tournament that were not participating before. We had 80 teams last year. Compare that to the 25 to 35 which competed when it was a drop down at HSNCT. It allows teams like Glasgow to have a tournament we can be competitive in during years when we are down because let's face it, having a good school, a good coach (maybe :wink: ) and everything considered...a school of 1200 and a school that chooses its kids has a better chance to have a successful season year in and year out. Addendum: I realize that this doesn't address Nick's very good points about how do you allow one group but not the other? It's just where I am currently.

Just my thoughts. Best of luck to you Lee and Peter. I hope to see you in Chicago this April.


Todd Garrison
Academic Team Coach 2011 - present
Glasgow High School
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Re: SSNCT and Charter School Eligibility

Post by quizbowllee » Sun Oct 09, 2016 1:34 pm

WHEW!

OK....

First, let me say something: I feel like a fool. Not because of my arguments, but because I 100% legitimately never even considered the possibility that anyone would take this as me trying to ban teams that are better than mine so that we could "win the damned tournament."

Looking at it from an outside perspective, I feel like an idiot for NOT realizing people would jump to that conclusion. You don't have to believe me if you don't want to, but I am making the argument totally on principle. There was only ONE charter school at last year's SSNCT that both defeated my team AND placed higher than us - and that was AMSA. BASIS beat us head-to-head, but we made it further into the playoffs. Lehigh Valley placed higher than we did - but we won when we played head-to-head. So, yeah. I'm not "afraid" of playing the charter schools. I just legitimately think that NAQT made a mistake in allowing them in SSNCT in the first place. That's not personal at all. In fact, I respect the hell out of Mr. Schmidt for the incredible lengths to which he has gone to support his son and this game. If nothing else comes from this debate, I at least hope that we can walk away from it - regardless of the outcome - with mutual respect for all involved. I don't think that personal attacks against my character - which were made in a PUBLIC FACEBOOK post are constructive or appropriate at all.

That said, my team still goes to HSNCT every single year, knowing that we are going to get crushed, so the idea that I just want to play teams that we can beat doesn't really hold water. In fact, R. can attest to the fact that I was initially AGAINST the creation of SSNCT in the first place.

The question was raised about all the other Small School Coaches and why they haven't spoken up. To that, all I can say is that perhaps most small school coaches are not active on this board. But, I ASSURE you that several - I'd say at least half-a-dozen - coaches discussed with me at SSNCT that they felt that charter schools should not be allowed at SSNCT. Also, in my discussions with higher-ups at NAQT it has been stated that they have had conversations with multiple coaches who mentioned this before I did. Also, the argument that I made to R. and that I quoted upthread was solicited. He sent me an e-mail ASKING my opinions on the matter.

After saying all of this, and reading all the arguments so far, let me say that I don't necessarily have an answer. I have considered every argument and every post. Mr. Schmidt posted a lot of information about two very specific charter schools. However, that highly anecdotal information does not hold for all charter schools. I think he makes a good argument for Lehigh Valley being allowed at SSNCT. However, I don't think that NAQT has an objective way of determining charter school eligibility on a case-by-case basis.

Here's where I'm coming from: A few years back R. e-mailed me and asked for my opinion about the creating a separate National Tournament for Small Schools instead of having Small School Playoffs at HSNCT. As I said before, I was against this. Seeing as I have always coached at schools that were eligible for the Small Schools title, he was surprised that I was against it. It was explained to me that the SPIRIT of SSNCT was to allow small, public schools who are unlikely to be competitive with the top of the field at HSNCT to have an opportunity to have their own tournament to determine the best small, public school in the nation. I just genuinely feel that allowing teams like AMSA into that tournament goes against that original spirit. AMSA was highly competitive against the top teams at HSNCT. They went 10-4 and tied for 21st. AMSA is the exact kind of team that SSNCT was created to avoid.

That being said, some coaches have said to me that AMSA had no business attending SSNCT in the first place. That they did so because they knew they would win. Let me say that I totally disagree with that. As it stands, AMSA is eligible for SSNCT and I don't begrudge them at all for entering and dominating. I don't think that they ever should have been allowed in, but I don't blame them at all for entering since they were allowed.

I also get the impression that there are some within the NAQT organization who feel that a mistake was made in allowing charter schools in the first place. Why else would this even be up for discussion? Perhaps it's too late to "unring that bell." But, I'm certainly not alone in thinking that those charter schools that ARE "de facto magnet schools" go against the original spirit of SSNCT, even if I am one of the only coaches active on this board and willing to put my opinion here to be scrutinized.

As for my arguments, I have posted them explicitly upthread. I don't really have anything to add to them. Nothing I have read or seen has changed my opinion or my arguments, so I'm not going to repeat them. I do totally understand Mr. Schmidt's arguments for the inclusion of his one, very specific school. But, I was asked by R. specifically if there was an OBJECTIVE way to limit charter schools that are "de facto magnet schools" while still permitting those, like Lehigh Valley, that are more akin to small, traditional public schools like West Point. I don't have an objective way to do so. I'd be very interested to see if anyone DOES have an objective way to do so.

However, like I said before, I am very disappointed and saddened that my arguments - which some people on this thread have agreed with and have expounded upon - have led to personal attacks against my character and my integrity. If we can't debate quiz bowl and quiz bowl policies without personal attacks, what's the point of this board? And when those personal attacks take place on Facebook instead of on this board, that's just petty and immature. I would like to think that we're better than that.

Anyway, this is my current two cents. Hopefully we can continue this discussion in a more civil manner.
Lee Henry
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West Point High School
Cullman, AL

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Re: SSNCT and Charter School Eligibility

Post by Cheynem » Sun Oct 09, 2016 2:04 pm

For those who are confused by Lee's references to Facebook, I think he is referencing a post by Matt Weiner, who doesn't post on the boards and hasn't posted in this thread. The people in this thread who disagree with him did not post anything on Facebook and have not impugned him at all.

I would ask Lee (and I guess Matt?) to settle his issues with Matt's Facebook carpings on Facebook, not here.
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Re: SSNCT and Charter School Eligibility

Post by quizbowllee » Sun Oct 09, 2016 2:19 pm

Cheynem wrote:For those who are confused by Lee's references to Facebook, I think he is referencing a post by Matt Weiner, who doesn't post on the boards and hasn't posted in this thread. The people in this thread who disagree with him did not post anything on Facebook and have not impugned him at all.

I would ask Lee (and I guess Matt?) to settle his issues with Matt's Facebook carpings on Facebook, not here.
Well.... I would say that Mr. Schmidt's claim that this is all about me wanting to "win the damned tournament" was somewhat impugning. But, it wasn't quite as vitriolic as what was posted on Facebook.
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Re: SSNCT and Charter School Eligibility

Post by Cheynem » Sun Oct 09, 2016 2:21 pm

Yeah, I'm just pointing out that the Facebook comments have nothing to do with this thread since they're posted by someone who has never posted in this thread.
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Re: SSNCT and Charter School Eligibility

Post by MahoningQuizBowler » Sun Oct 09, 2016 7:08 pm

As someone who was very much in favor of SSNCT's creation, and who runs a number of events to allow both charter and non-charter schools to qualify for it, I would like to contribute.

I believe the restriction on private schools at SSNCT is valid and should continue. Regarding charters, my experience with them in Ohio has been largely negative. One specific example which led to legislation being passed in the state was the Portage County Educational Service Center licensing/sponsoring charter schools in all parts of the state, including Cincinnati. This practice led the public schools that had been contracting services -- including quizbowl -- from that ESC to leave it, which led to its closing. Thankfully, the Cuyahoga ESC has absorbed some of the personnel from the Portage ESC, and they contract with me to run their league now. We are adding our first charter school in that league this year, the BioMed Academy based out of the Northeast Ohio Medical University. This school is open to anyone in Ohio; the coach at Austintown Fitch, a large school in Mahoning County, has asked me how the eligibility will work for a student who lives in her district but attends BioMed. If BioMed draws from the entire state, even with a lottery system for admissions, can they really be considered small?

In the Toledo league, the Toledo School for the Arts had to prove to NAQT they weren't selective prior to being considered "small". The issue at hand, as I understood it, was whether or not the auditions that prospective students had to undertake for entry were for placement in ensembles or a condition of admission. They were allowed to be small, and turned in a t-25th performance in April at SSNCT.

In the past, I've asked NAQT if vocational/technical schools would qualify for SSNCT. This was a potential issue when both the Trumbull and Mahoning Career and Technical Centers played NAQT events. My understanding was that they were not small because of the cumulative size of the schools that fed into them. An Ohio public school that did well two SSNCTs ago, Hubbard, had to argue for the students that went to TCTC _not_ to count towards their enrollment for them to get under the 500 bar, as TCTC had an active team that year that students could establish an affilation with...but what of a school whose local vocational option doesn't have an active team, as in Portage County?

Turning the question in a slightly different direction, should public schools that allow open enrollment be considered small?

As the sanctioning body, NAQT has the authority to rule teams in or out already. I think the best-fit solution then would be to have all teams that register for SSNCT be submitted to such a review prior to their spot being confirmed in the field. If they're rejected, they can ask for an explanation, but ultimately it's NAQT's call because it's NAQT's tournament.

Whatever is decided, as a tournament/league director, I need to know what to communicate to my fields. If changes are made to the qualification policies, are they applied retroactively to competitions that have already happened this season?
Greg Bossick
Executive Director, Ohio Academic Competition (2013-2016)
Director, Mahoning Quizbowl League (2004-2011, 2013-present)

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Re: SSNCT and Charter School Eligibility

Post by Antrobus63 » Mon Oct 10, 2016 10:12 am

Don't conflate my posts with insulting comments from other sources. I can't, and shouldn't have to, defend them. I do respect you, Mr. Henry, for your work with your kids. After all, that's what this is all about. While I didn't agree with your posts, I don't think that either of us crossed the line of civility. Advocating for your own kids/team is part of the whole deal, so I am not impugning your character to suggest that part of your (or any other coach's) motivation may be to win as much as you can against fair competition. If it came off as a personal attack, please accept my apologies.

Still, you opened a debate about an issue that touches us both closely--and your argument, should you prevail, would eliminate an important part of quiz bowl for my own team--so I'm going to debate this issue as vigorously as I can. Most of my post was devoted to refuting the argument that all charters are unfairly selective. My evidence was not "highly anecdotal" but, on the contrary, specific and detailed. My goal was to show that much of the anti-charter argument here is very much anecdotal and, at times, misleading.

You argue that while some charters may be OK and perhaps fair candidates for SSNCT, it is impossible to disentangle the ones who are truly inclusive from the ones that have a distinct competitive advantage, so we should disallow all charters at SSNCT. I do not agree. The current status quo, in which some charters are disallowed from the competition while some are permitted, on a case-by-case basis, seems like the fairest compromise. LVA was initially NOT allowed into SSNCT: I had to appeal to overturn NAQT's decision.

Whatever NAQT decides this year, though, I have nothing against you personally and am only too happy to continue the debate and to shake your hand at SSNCT, HSNCT, or wherever we next shall meet!
Peter Schmidt
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Re: SSNCT and Charter School Eligibility

Post by quizbowllee » Mon Oct 10, 2016 11:09 am

Fair enough.

For what it's worth, I would very much be in favor of some sort of objective way for NAQT to rule on charter school eligibility. You have convinced me that if any charter schools belong at SSNCT, Lehigh Valley does. Perhaps they will consider some sort of committee that will look at schools on a case-by-case basis. I don't see that happening, as it will obviously open up a can of worms when one school gets in and another doesn't. And I imagine that NAQT, being a for-profit business, wants to keep as many customers as happy as possible, which I also understand.

Hopefully the fact that I have been convinced that Lehigh Valley - probably the BEST charter school team currently eligible for SSNCT - probably does belong will at least lessen the perception that I'm only doing this to get rid of teams that are "better than mine." But, it seems that some people have their opinions about me and my motivations and nothing will change their minds.

My main issue remains the definition of "selective admission." As I said before, just because a school "admits" anyone, regardless of grades, talent, behavior, etc. does NOT mean that they KEEP anyone. A school that has the ability to remove a student more easily than a regular, public school does has a huge advantage. That and the "self-selectiveness" that comes with a school like AMSA are the reasons that I feel that SOME - perhaps not ALL - charter schools are "de facto magnet schools" and have unfair advantages against tradition small, public schools.

The argument FOR charter schools seems to be "look, we take EVERYONE who wants to come, as longs as there is space."

OK. Here's the difference:

1) A small PUBLIC SCHOOL takes everyone who lives in a geographic area, even if there ISN'T SPACE! A charter school gets to decide how much "space" they have.

2) A school with a name like "Advanced Math and Science" is NOT going to have struggling students knocking down the doors to get in.

Those are my two main arguments, along with the policies that allow students who don't "cut the mustard" to be easily removed.

I still haven't read or seen anything that changes my position on those arguments.

And, regardless of the outcome, I definitely look forward to shaking your hand and discussing this game that we are both passionate about the next time we cross paths.
Lee Henry
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West Point High School
Cullman, AL

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Re: SSNCT and Charter School Eligibility

Post by Cheynem » Mon Oct 10, 2016 11:46 am

The advantages you describe for charter schools (they can control their size, they can kick out students who aren't "cutting the mustard," they have fancy names [???]) strike me as more advantages in terms of their overall educational package, not necessarily their quizbowl advantages. Yes, theoretically, under these advantages, a charter school can perhaps attract more academically motivated kids than a public school, but that still doesn't mean they're going to have better quizbowl teams than the other. As the record indicates, good public schools do very well at SSNCT. The common thread among SSNCT high finishers is good coaches, good programs, and motivated kids. You can get that at any school. I'd imagine a number of charter schools would love to have a coach like you for a quizbowl squad.

My logic in supporting the current SSNCT policy is:

1. Under most legal definitions, charter schools are public schools, not private schools.

2. There is little evidence to suggest that charter schools are dominating SSNCT and freezing out all other schools. I would be okay with a "top public school" award given out within SSNCT.

For the record, I still think SSNCT is a stupid idea and deeply insulting to small schools anyway.
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Re: SSNCT and Charter School Eligibility

Post by Important Bird Area » Mon Oct 10, 2016 3:24 pm

Our announcement about eligibility for the 2017 SSNCT is now live. I'll start a new thread to discuss the details.
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Re: SSNCT and Charter School Eligibility

Post by Antrobus63 » Mon Oct 10, 2016 3:42 pm

I'll post a reply on the next thread.
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Re: SSNCT and Charter School Eligibility

Post by Important Bird Area » Mon Oct 10, 2016 4:21 pm

MahoningQuizBowler wrote:Whatever is decided, as a tournament/league director, I need to know what to communicate to my fields. If changes are made to the qualification policies, are they applied retroactively to competitions that have already happened this season?
Yes, the new qualification rules will apply to all tournaments in the 2016-17 competition year. (Note that we normally start issuing SSNCT invitations in mid-October, as many states do not have enrollment data available earlier than that.)
Jeff Hoppes
President, Northern California Quiz Bowl Alliance
former HSQB Chief Admin (2012-13)
VP for Communication and history subject editor, NAQT
Editor emeritus, ACF

"I wish to make some kind of joke about Jeff's love of birds, but I always fear he'll turn them on me Hitchcock-style." -Fred

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Re: SSNCT and Charter School Eligibility

Post by jessbowen » Mon Oct 10, 2016 8:05 pm

Hi All,

I don't follow these forums regularly, so my comments are far too late to be helpful to this discussion, but I'll add them anyway.

I feel like the changes about charter school eligibility were made directly to target my school, the SSNCT champions last year.

AMSA is a charter school, but there is nothing about us that makes it easier to field or prepare a team. I have students who have a proclivity for science perhaps, but you should see what it's like to find a lit player! Our students are not cherry picked and are not accepted based on an exam. To suggest that the name of our school makes it easier to have a good team is absurd.

If charter schools had dominated the competition over time, I could see some validity in this argument, but that is not the case. I had a group of four students who were passionate about QB. They dedicated themselves to it, studying, recruiting, and fielding a great team. They started as freshmen and worked like crazy, setting goals for themselves, learning what they had to do to meet them and then doing that and more. They were only 4 kids - do you think that I can just pick 4 kids off a roster and because they go to our school, they will be great qb players? You all know that it takes far more than that to be great players. In any case, the members of that a-team have all graduated and I will be lucky to qualify for any national tournament this year. It will be difficult for us to compete even in our our region where there are great programs - like Lexington and Phillips Andover. We are a very normal school in this regard, rebuilding after graduating a strong team.

There is a lot of misinformation about charter schools out there. This decision helps perpetuate this misinformation. You are also punishing a school for doing exactly what we want schools to do in the quiz bowl world. I am very sorry to learn of your decision.

Jessica Bowen
AMSA Charter School
Marlborough, MA
Last edited by jessbowen on Mon Oct 10, 2016 8:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: SSNCT and Charter School Eligibility

Post by Cheynem » Mon Oct 10, 2016 8:15 pm

By the way, I'm also disgusted that staffers would tell coaches at NAQT events that they were "rooting against" the charter schools.
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Re: SSNCT and Charter School Eligibility

Post by Magritte's Pipe » Thu Oct 13, 2016 2:20 pm

I don't know what the best policy is regarding charter schools, but I do wonder if the big focus this thread seems to be taking regarding selective admissions might be clouding the issue as much as it's illuminating it. Perhaps curriculum is important.

While I am by no means an expert regarding charter schools, I know a little about public and private schools (I went to a Catholic school, and I teach at a public one). I would argue that private schools have an inherent advantage over small public schools not so much because of selective admissions, but because of the different curricula. Public schools have to do well on standardized tests regulated by the state. Private schools do not (I'm not aware of any exceptions). This means that public school curricula tend to be more focused on the sorts of skills that teachers know will be on the standardized tests, while private schools can focus much more on factual content. Public schools tend to deal much more with legal mandates regarding special education - you simply cannot straight lecture through as much factual content as all my Catholic school history teachers did, and as many private school teachers still do. There are simply too many accommodations that need to be made to all sorts of kids and their learning styles and disabilities.

My point here is not about good or bad teaching. Nor am I criticizing the quality of public or private schools (hardly my place anyway on a thread like this). My point is that it is much easier to make a decent team from scratch at a private school than at a small public school (just as it's easier at a large public school). Camp Hill High School has good standardized test scores. Our student body have a really good track record of getting into good colleges. And yet, most of our students are not reservoirs of the sorts of facts that come up in quiz bowl, in spite of their evident intelligence and academic achievement. It's just not how the system works. We may be turning out good critical thinkers, or you could claim we are just turning out good standardized test takers (that's your opinion). We certainly aren't turning out lots of natural quiz bowlers. This means that a small public school, on average, has to spend more "man-hours" to create a good quiz bowl team than a private school or large public school does. I can give you two examples from my early coaching experience:

-Coach X worked at a private school. She freely admitted that she had no more than one practice a week, and sometimes not even that. Her roster changed dramatically from scrimmage to scrimmage. Yet for several years her team remained superior to mine, even though I was holding many more practices and my players were spending more time studying. Now you could say this just shows I'm incompetent (always a possibility). But I think the issue was that the first few years I was a coach Camp Hill was building a team up from nothing. Coach X could simply plug people with far less training into the roster with greater success (for a while) than I could.

-Coach Y worked at a very large public school. Because of its size, he had a much easier time filling holes in his roster than I could. If I lost my chemistry specialist to graduation, I had to simply train other players to fill that hole. It is very rare (but not unheard of) in a small school to have students with prodigious knowledge of subject areas (meaning well beyond what they need to know for their classes). Statistically speaking, this is much more common in a very large school. Coach Y would simply talk to the several chemistry teachers in his school (of which there were many) and find the best chemistry student. With a little work on quiz bowl basics, Coach Y's chemistry specialist would be better than my chemistry specialist for some time (since mine was starting from scratch).

Now if what I've said makes sense (and perhaps it doesn't), perhaps it might be useful to ask if charter schools have any curricular advantages over similarly sized public schools. If a charter school and a public school are roughly the same size (removing that variable), is there any other advantage the charter school has over the public school? I typically have to recruit my players at a very young age and give them a lot of "man-hours" of training. I imagine this is the case with a large percentage of small public schools (a typical small school success story is the team of four freshman who join together, slowly get better and then win SSNCT as seniors before graduating, at which point a long rebuilding process starts (from scratch, as it were)). Is that the case with charter schools? Is it the case with some charter schools but not others?

EDIT - I should probably add that even if a private school had no selective criteria for admission, the fact that one must pay tuition to go there would have the same effect as "selective criteria" (and one could argue that it might shift the school's demographic in a way that makes it easier to find and recruit good quiz bowl talent). Is there anything comparable with charter schools?
Andrew Gianelli
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Re: SSNCT and Charter School Eligibility

Post by Scottietodd » Thu Oct 13, 2016 11:40 pm

Those are some really good points Andrew and they mirror my experiences in Kentucky very closely, especially as it relates to large public schools and the amount of practice time I spend with my kids in comparison to schools like you have mentioned.
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Re: SSNCT and Charter School Eligibility

Post by Antrobus63 » Wed Feb 01, 2017 5:58 pm

After some friendly exchanges with NAQT officers, I am still formulating a post that will most effectively articulate my argument that NAQT should eventually change its SSNCT policy about charter schools (i.e., convince people without pissing them off too much!). However, given the recent furor surrounding Betsy DeVos, I am concerned that those QB folk who have always opposed charters' competing against public schools at SSNCT will look at Mrs. DeVos's nomination and say, "Told you so."
So, as an advocate of charters' being considered as true public schools at SSNCT, I want to go on record as saying that Mrs. DeVos is clearly not qualified to run the U.S. Education Department, that her nomination is a cynical attempt to actually undermine that department, and that giving parents vouchers to send their kids to private schools, as Mrs. DeVos would like, is definitely NOT the same thing as supporting the existence of public charter schools, which allow parents in poorly performing public school districts (like mine, in Allentown, PA) to send their kids to decent schools without draining their bank accounts--even if we have to enter a lottery for the privilege.
This does NOT mean that I am against people sending their kids to private schools--not at all. I just want to draw a clear distinction between private schools (which are, by definition, selective) and those charter schools which are not selective and MUST take in students from many districts, without regard to their academic or financial status, just as traditional public schools must take in all students within their boundaries.
Peter Schmidt
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