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Charter Management Flip-Flop On Cap Legislation:
A Disaster Is Transformed Into A Great Victory

Last Friday, shortly after the State Senate and Assembly passed charter cap legislation which included key reforms, Peter Murphy of the charter management New York Charter School Association was condemning the law in the most unequivocal terms. “This bill is a big step backward,” Murphy told the New York Times, “and worse than doing no bill.” Right behind him, Nelson Smith of the National Alliance for  Public Charter Schools, was declaring that

The bill they’ve just approved slowly increases the number of charter schools but puts serious brakes on New York City growth; invites intrusive and redundant audits by the state comptroller; forbids for-profit operators (no matter their track record) from managing any new schools; and adds a patchwork of new provisions, grounded in specious, union-provided non-data,  requiring charter schools to resemble the demographics of surrounding districts. It’s unclear what it will do to the actual chartering authority of New York City Schools Chancellor Joel Klein, or his counterparts at SUNY’s Charter Schools Institute.

In twenty-four hours, both men were singing a very different tune — Murphy here and Smith here.

Why this remarkable about face? Could it be that if the blunt honesty of the original reactions was widely recognized, the Wall Street hedge fund operators which financed the multi-million dollar campaign to win a charter cap increase without any real reform might feel that their money was not well-spent? Have to keep that Wal-Mart spigot flowing, after all.

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5 Comments:

  • 1 Gideon
    · Jun 1, 2010 at 12:47 pm

    I don’t understand why for-profit school management organizations are a problem. If their schools get the same amount of public funding as all other charter schools and their students perform well, why does it matter who’s running the school? And these management organizations often have the start-up capital to purchase buildings so their schools don’t have to go into district school buildings. Clearly it would be a problem if these organizations were taking a profit and their students were not succeeding, but how is this any different than teachers accepting a paycheck and not educating their students. I think sometimes we get so preoccupied by the input variables that we lose sight of the purpose of schools, which is student learning and achievement.

  • 2 Leo Casey
    · Jun 1, 2010 at 10:05 pm

    It’s a problem because for profit management firms are taking public funds which should be going to schools and students, and turning them into their profits. At Merrick Charter School, the for profit management Victory Schools was taking 25¢ out of every $1 that should have gone to the school — and then the school cries poverty when it comes time to buy books and pay teachers.

  • 3 Gideon
    · Jun 1, 2010 at 11:21 pm

    What exactly does it mean to say Victory Schools was taking $.25 of every $1 that should have gone to the school. If Victory Schools is providing recruitment and hiring, professional development, HR, procurement, accounting, etc. services, then isn’t the $.25 being used to pay for services the school would otherwise have to pay to internal staff. I can see your point if Victory is indeed pocketing the $.25 and not providing any services, but where is the evidence that the school’s budget is out of whack. And again, are the students in this school making progress and learning under these conditions. If so, I would say leave them alone and let them do what works.

    Also, how can you argue against for-profit management companies, but allow schools to continue to purchase books, food, insurance, professional development, construction materials, electricity, etc. from for-profit companies? What’s the difference between these good and services and school management?

  • 4 Leo Casey
    · Jun 2, 2010 at 10:22 pm

    Let’s not be disingenuous. Victory provides precious little in services to Merrick Charter School, and yet it charges three times what the leading non-profit CMOs charge their schools and three times the overhead of the DoE in district schools.

  • 5 Rsell67
    · Jun 4, 2010 at 11:32 pm

    ” requiring charter schools to resemble the demographics of surrounding districts”

    This is the key sticking point for the charter schools. They do not want to enroll Special Education or ELL students…Period!! They really don’t want to service the children of the community. Only the hand picked students, that can walk the strictest of straight lines may remain.

    I share a building with a charter school (in the Bronx), I have been with my school for 7 years. The charter school has been here for four years. They do not have a single teacher that has been with them for more than 2 years. This is the other dirty secret that charter schools don’t want the public to know. Most have close to or over an 80% turn over rate for teachers, and this is by design.

    This is what Klein wants, teach for a couple of years, and then get out. What does he care about the quality of a teacher and his or her experiences, Klein’s kids will never be in any of our classrooms. The same holds true for Bloomberg, Patterson, Duncan and Obama. They don’t give a rat’s butt for public school teachers, nor for the majority of the children that we teach.