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Charters: Charted Territory

On September 30, Mayor Bloomberg’s campaign announced a plan to create 100 new charter schools in the city.

This proposal is disturbing. Public school parents who are already bearing the brunt of the expansion are complaining and with good reason.  They have partnered with us for years in the fight to get more pre-K slots, to devise ways of creating space and seats for schools, obtain funding for them and to improve special education and services for English Language Learners.

Candidate Bloomberg supports these priorities and favors implementing them. Selectively.  Not for all public school kids. Just those in charter schools.

We oppose a two-tier system of support for kids. Unequal treatment is not an option.

The Harlem Children’s Zone, which serves both public and charter schools, has developed a positive model for delivering a wide range of social services to kids in their schools. The mayor likes this model, as do we, and  he approves of the strategy of coordinating city social services to accomplish it.  But with restrictions.

According to the mayor’s proposal, the benefit should be limited to charter school students. It would not apply to  public schools that a vast majority of the city’s students attend.  That’s not fair and there are no two sides to the argument.

No valid comparison between the performance of charter and public schools can be made unless they are provided with what independent educational research would recognize as parity of opportunity to succeed.

Public school students are being shoehorned into buildings and shunted aside to accommodate charter schools. They are being denied access to materials an d resources. Aggressive preference is being offered to charter schools.

All kids are elite in our eyes. Not some more than others.

Charter schools are not uncharted territory for us. We are not spooked by them. The UFT runs several of the best in town. We deliver differentiated instruction and respond affirmatively to parents and the challenges of meeting the needs of all kids, without exception.  Because all kids are exceptional.

That’s the philosophy and the program. The city should get with it.

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3 Comments:

  • 1 Remainders: New Yorkers working for a “recovery high school” | GothamSchools
    · Oct 16, 2009 at 9:00 pm

    […] Ron Isaac at Edwize calls Bloomberg’s plan to open more charters “disturbing.” […]

  • 2 John Yanno
    · Oct 17, 2009 at 9:24 am

    Yes, the UFT does run two charter schools, and has partnered with Green Dot to run another. That makes them part of the problem, not the solution. Instead of accommodating the charter-school assault on public education, the UFT leadership should mobilize its rank-and-file members to defend public education.

    Why should we fight charter schools instead of taking a “if you can’t beat them, join them” “surrenderist” approach? Good question. First, they take up space and resources in our public schools. Charter schools have limited non-charter students’ access to resources such as science labs and libraries in schools where they share space. Second, many operate without a contract (or contracts with too much “flexibility”) where long hours and few benefits have caused high teacher-turnover, which is never good for students. Third, if the things that charter schools claim works, such as enrichment and freedom from bureaucratic control, we should be fighting for those things in our public schools. Don’t all city kids deserve cello lessons, museum trips, and learner-centered curriculum? Fourth, they discriminate. It may be law that charter schools have to admit Engligh Language Learners (ELLs) and students with special needs, but statistics show they aren’t. ELLs and children with special needs remine under-represented in charter schools. For the 2007 school year, while 14 percent of NYC school kids were ELLs, they made up only 4 percent of the charter school population. For kids with special needs, the statistics were around 15 percent for public schools vs. 5 percent for charter schools.

    In my opinion, the charter school invasion is part of the larger attack on public education. Charter schools must be stopped. We need to see the charter school invasion for what it is – a corporate attack on public education. An attack in a war that will not stop until schools are under private control and the teachers’ unions, along with its benefits of health care, tenure, pensions, etc., are destroyed. We should not be seeking a “seat at the table” to soften what will ultimately become our death blow.

  • 3 Ken Hirsh
    · Oct 17, 2009 at 11:17 am

    You write: “The UFT runs several of the best in town.” Could you explain what you mean by this?