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.