Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Mapping Tool, or Charter Promotion Device?

(Post revised, 5/10/11, shortly after it was first published.)

Grand Valley State University has developed a mapping tool, found here, and as more Census 2010 data is published, I think it will be very useful.

However, full disclosure: was developed by the Grand Valley State University Charter Schools Office in collaboration with Grand Valley’s College of Education and Johnson Center for Philanthropy, as well as the Michigan Council for Charter School Authorizers

I was puzzled by this--why would the charter schools office be interested in developing a mapping tool? Now that I've looked over the web site a little, I think the answer lies in the Charter Applicant tab. I thought that this tab would take me to a special map of charter applicants. NO. That tab takes me to a tab on how to apply to be a charter school. Note that there is nothing wrong with telling people how to apply to be a charter school. However, it strikes me as a little bit underhanded to appear to be one thing (a cool mapping tool) but have a different primary objective. Nonetheless, it is a cool mapping tool, so caveat emptor (buyer beware)--it is, after all, free.

Here's the press release:
Grand Valley State University has developed a website designed to help Michigan residents and educators learn more about their schools and communities, and how they impact one another.
The website,, combines 2010 U.S. Census data with information from the Michigan Department of Education, Michigan Department of Community Health and local police departments and clerks. The website features visual markers that represent all traditional, charter and private schools in the state. Each marker representing a school can be selected to view information about that specific school and/or district including enrollment characteristics and standardized test performance., is built on a platform similar to Google Maps and allows users to visually display information such as an area’s population, housing, vital records, crime, education, income, voting and transportation through color-coded maps. The site also features a comparison tool that allows users to compare up to five schools and/or districts using 40 different indicators.
Each data set can be narrowed to feature more specific information. For example, an area’s population can be analyzed based on total population, race, average household size, population under 5 years old or population under 18 years old. The geographic area being analyzed can be customized as well, featuring an area as large as the entire state or as small as a city block.

No comments:

Post a Comment