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Camino Nuevo Staff Admonishing Echo Park Community to "Fact Check?"

by Robert D. Skeels Saturday, Feb. 19, 2011 at 10:37 PM 90026

Camino Nuevo Charter Academy's paid staff are the first to tout statistics, except when those statistics reflect poorly on them. Here's a rebuttal to their fact checking admonishments. Ultimately, the battle for CRES 14 comes down to who should control our schools -- public or private?

"The original vision of charter schools was that they would help strengthen public schools, not compete with them." — Diane Ravitch (celebrated education professor and author)

In the comments section of Lobbying Around Leadership at Echo Park’s New School Heats Up, a CNCA staffer named Kelly states "Robert (and anyone else), please make sure that you are checking where you get your facts (or where your fact-finder's get their facts)." She then goes on to present some statistical data. I responded thusly:

Kelly, I appreciate your admonishment on fact checking, but are you suggesting that the CSU's data is erroneous or inaccurate? Furthermore, you and several other "statisticians" keep insisting that the CSU sample is "only 17 students." Given that CNHSC graduated roughly 100 students in 2008, it represents nearly one fifth of your graduating class. My sources familiar with UC system remedations tell me that while CNHSC numbers are a little better there, they aren't as stellar as the CNCA CMO claims they are. Also, for those claiming that 17 students is statistically insignificant in terms as CSU enrollments, it's still that selfsame number of students having to retake high school courses.

Here's some more statistical information since we're sharing links, let's use some that aren't from charter-voucher industry trade associations like the CCSA or GreatSchools, Inc., which have a vested interest in the data they collect and present.

Camino Nuevo High School Charter - Los Angeles - California Schools Guide - Los Angeles Times shows CNHSC' unofficial API rank as 6/10, with a fairly poor diversity score.

What's more, the California Department of Education's SAT Report shows CNHSC SAT scores as being fairly low, which would seem to support the CSU remediation rate data that Kelly is trying hard to discredit.

Data from SAT Report (CA Dept of Education)

97.94% Camino Nuevo High School Charter students tested
Critical Reading Average 379
Math Average 396
Writing Average 396
Composite 1171

Resulting in only 11% of CNHSC students testing with a composite SAT of 1500 or above. 1171 is well below the composite SAT to make the even the lowest spot on this list: Highest Average SAT Scores in Los Angeles County - California Schools Guide - Los Angeles Times.

Part of the statistics above are probably due to the fact that the median teacher experience at CNHSC is only 4 years. However, that doesn't mean that CNCA staff aren't dedicated or sincere, just relatively inexperienced. Yet many CNCA staff keep saying their corporation has a decade of doing what it does in contrast to an "unproven" plan proffered by LD4/EP Community Parters. Since many of the educators involved the the community plan have taught for more decades than CNCA has been in existence, that meme is absurd on its face. That hasn't stopped the CNCA staff from repeating it though!

Just as paid CNCA staff are able to find statistics favorable to them increasing their market share, community volunteers like myself are able to find CNCA statistics that aren't flattering. As a social justice activist I don't see test scores as be-all, end-all. That said, CNCA's marketing literature does, and I feel it's appropriate to question that. Sorry for speaking truth to your power CNCA.

In the end this debate comes down to who should control our resources: the community or an unelected board. Once we hand the public over to the private, we abdicate control. Our community deserves better than that. We should be able to control our own destiny, and not rely on, in the words of Paulo Freire, "the false generosity of paternalism."

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