Shortly after the start of the new year, a group of elected officials joined the UFT to propose a package of legislative reforms designed to ensure that charter schools would be true public schools, educating all students.
At that time, Thomas Carroll, prolific charter advocate and long time champion of the far right in state politics, took to the pages of New York City tabloids to condemn our proposal. The idea that charter schools should educate all students, including those with the greatest need, was a poison pill, Carroll declared. It would force charters to adopt terrible admissions quotas. It was the work of Michael Mulgrew, our new UFT president, who is “a bare-knuckled trench-fighter” in Carroll’s book.
Interestingly enough, none of Carroll’s frequent appearances on the op-ed pages of the Daily News and the Post identified him as the founder and President of Brighter Choice Charter Schools, an Albany-based charter chain. A front page story in this morning’s Albany Times-Union, Charter School Could Face Probation,” provides one possible explanation of this lapse.
According to a scathing report produced by SUNY’s Charter School Institute [CSI] and reported in the Times-Union, Principal Carol Lennon of Carroll’s Brighter Choice Albany Preparatory School sought to improve the school’s test scores by denying admission to and wait-listing learning disabled students. “The extent, specificity and sources of the allegations are unprecedented,” the report concludes. “And the complainants all linked the alleged behavior to attaining higher scores on the state assessments in light of a pending (charter) renewal decision.”
CSI investigators also found that Albany Preparatory was under-reporting teacher turnover and violent incidents at the school, and recounted that teacher morale was very low.
Carroll took to the comments section here at Edwize shortly after we made our proposal to assert that “lower representation [of high needs students in charter schools -- LC] does not always equal a nefarious conspiracy to keep out special-education students.” It now appears that we were too quick to accept him at his word.
Carroll has been a particularly outspoken foe of teacher unions, claiming that educators in his charter schools had no need of teacher solidarity and voice. This is an interesting claim in light of the actions of his principal, who threatened to fire Albany Preparatory employees for being conscientious educators who reported her misdeeds.
Somehow we think that the teachers might have a different view of things.