If you read all the media outlets in the Metropolitan area, one would think that the Eva Moskowitz's charter schools were taking over vacant space and not causing any negative consequences to the existing school. That's far from the truth. Besides taking precious funding from the public schools. The Harlem Success Charter School #4 (middle school) will have 194 carefully selected students who survived the extremely high student attrition rate approaching 50%, to make it into the middle school. To make sure the "elite 194" has enough space they will take over many areas that are used for the PS 149 "Special Education:" population such as the Science, Art, and Music rooms and causing some services to be preformed in storage closets, hallways, and anywhere else the staff can squeeze into to give these Special Education students services that they are required, by law to have.
Had the City approved the Eva Moskowitz charter school for the "elite 194", it would make the PS 149 building at 132% of capacity. How was the Bloomberg Administration going to get the building back to the 100% utilization rate? Let's just kick out the Special Education students in PS 149! That's right, the most needy and severely disabled of students were to be removed from their only school they knew for the "elite 194". Yet, except for Juan Gonzalez, no media outlet bothered to show what would happen to the Special Education students when the Harlem Success Academy charter school moved into the PS 149 building.
Where will the severely disabled students be bused to for their services? Probably to the already overcrowded District 75 "Mickey Mantle school" on the West side of Manhattan which already lost space to Eva Moskowitz's Harlem Success Charter School #1. Or to schools further downtown. Did the Bloomberg Administration care what the community thought? The answer is no of course.
I can't understand why the De Blasio Administration doesn't counterattack and show that Eva Moskowitz's Success charter schools are taking away space from the severely disabled students in the NYC public school system. The very same "Special Education" students that will never be accepted to Eva's charter schools in the first place, add these students with other no-entry students such as English Language Learners, and "high needs" students with academic, behavioral, and attendance issues. Heaven forbid that Eva allows these students to attend her "elitist schools" and take the State and National tests. No way would any of these students make it to the "elite 194". Only the best make it and goodbye to the rest.
Its too bad the other side of the charter school story is ignored by the media but its been that way for years and with Chancellor Carmen Farina bumbling her way through the school year, I expect nothing will change.
P.S. Leonie Haimson was on MSNBC last night and did a great job in presenting the case against charter schools. You can find it on her blog NYC Public School Parents Here.
When Mayor Bill de Blasio replaced the Bloomberg Administration, Michael Mulgrew claimed at the delegate assembly there was a change of tone at the DOE and that the leadership was apologizing for all their anti-teacher actions and demonizing of the profession. Nice words, but when it has comes to actual deeds, there has been NO CHANGE IN HOW THE DOE TREATS THE TEACHERS! Every school I go to the teachers are under stress trying to fulfill the punitive Danielson rublic, the dubious rigor of Common Core, and the low morale.
I know it takes time to see changes and that this school year is a transition time between the punitive Bloomberg Administration and the De Blasio Administration. However, Chancellor Carmen Farina has failed to make the changes necessary to instill confidence in her. She has made few leadership or policy changes, made inappropriate statements, and backed down on the charter school issue. Worse, it seems that she's taking no action against the DOE bloated bureaucracy and punitive leadership who protected "bad principals" and has apparently backed away from placing the ATRs in schools that could benefit the schools with extra teaching support by using them as "push in teachers" in their subject area or as co-teachers.
The result is that until the next school year the New York City Public School students will suffer from inadequate resources, inexperienced teachers, and worst of all, the lack of accountability by the DOE administrators, like the useless "Children First Networks" that simply suck up much needed funds that could go to the classroom instead.
Every school I go to have funding issues. There's no money to fix broken smart boards that were placed in a middle of a blackboard, making instruction very difficult. Many schools require teachers to supply their own copy paper and quite a few schools require teachers to buy their own classroom supplies. Worse, in almost every school I walk into there are broken copy machines, lack of preventive maintenance, and wi-fi networks that don't have adequate bandwidth and are insufficient for use for classroom projects. Accountability for these problems are dumped on the schools while the bloated DOE bureaucracy denies any responsiblity for these problems.
Unless Chancellor Carmen Farina starts to do some major housecleaning, its not a change of tone that UFT President Michael Mulgrew claims he sees but the "same old song" when it comes to what's actually going on in the schools when it comes to the the dysfunctional, DOE with the children the real losers.
Now that Chancellor Carmen Farina is trying to find a location to place one of Eva Moskowitz's charter schools, how about putting them in those decrepit, moldy, and dirty trailers that too many public school students are forced to learn in. I believe that with all the money that Eva rakes in, she can either spruce them up or replace them entirely while paying appropriate rent for the privilege. Meanwhile the public school students can be placed in newly freed space in the schools that would have had charter schools squeezed into their building.
Interestingly all the media outlets, the Governor, and now Regent Meryl Tisch has asked that the City find an appropriate place for the charter schools. Where were the media outlets and these people when the Bloomberg Administration put thousands of children in trailers that outlived their useful life year after year? Many of these trailers are cramped, smelly, and require children to face the elements to travel to and from them. However, I never read a complaint from the media and their editorial boards, about the trailers. Did anyone hear the Governor, the Commissioner, or the Regents Board complain about the trailers?.
Another thing, had the Moskowitz Success Charter middle school moved into the PS 147 building in Central Harlem would have reduced space and displace students with disabilities as it was projected to have up to a 132% utilization capacity, a totally unacceptable use of building space for learning.. In other words the inclusion of 194 carefully selected students would displace the City's most needy students with disabilities. While others would receive services in the hallways or common areas. How interesting that the media and the politicians don't seem, to mention that outrage?
The bottom line, all these charter schools should be paying rent for using the City school buildings and use the money to provide the proper resources and instruction that the Bloomberg Administration failed to do for the public school students..
This week selected guidance counselors have received e-maIls from the DOE asking them if they want to be placed in one school for the rest of the school year. Interestingly, the DOE email didn't say anything about being placed in their District or in their grade level. However, this is an acknowledgement that the DOE is starting to think about what's best for the students and not the previous ideological policy that made the guidance counselors go weekly to different schools that didn't benefit anybody. Add this to the CSA winning a grievance that stopped the DOE from rotating Assistant Principals monthly and we are now seeing a slow transition away from the useless and self destructive ATR rotation system.
I predict that the excessed teachers will all be "placed" in their District schools in September as there is an average of 5,000 vacancies that will allow for almost all of the 2,000 plus ATRs to fill a vacancy. Without the ideological reason to waste $160 million dollars annually it makes little sense not to place the ATRs. There will be some exceptions where the ATR has an obsolete or specialty license. In those cases, the UFT and DOE should arrange for training to have these teachers get a subject license and become a "push in" or second teacher in a class until they are properly credentialed.
For this program to work the following issues must be resolved. First, the "fair student funding formula" must be eliminated and the teacher salary reverts back to a "unit" . The DOE pays for all teachers not the school as it presently does. This eliminates the incentive for the Principal to hire the :cheapest" teacher and they can now hire the "best" teachers for the classroom. Second, the DOE must impose a strict and complete "hiring freeze" until all the ATRs in their District are placed. Any Principal caught hiding a vacancy will have the vacancy removed from the school and receive a "disciplinary letter" for educational malfeasance. To minimize "forced placements", the principals will be allowed to interview up to five ATRs in seniority order of that content specialty and must decide on the one that best fits the school culture. To ensure the Principal is playing by the rules, failure to select one of the five ATRs will result in the school losing the vacancy for the school year., Finally, all ATRs hired should receive a "provisional contract" that allows both the teacher and Principal decide if "its a good fit". Once both sides agree, the teacher will be automatically appointed and gain their building seniority. In no case can the school and teacher sign a second "provisional contract" the following year.
Its common knowledge that the City and UFT will finalize a contract by June 30th. Therefore, if the UFT insists on these few simple requirements, the schools will be getting an influx of experienced teachers, many of them "quality teachers" that will help reduce the inequity of teachers in the school system and reduce class size. To me its a win-win no matter how one looks at it.
Many of the NYC public schools and almost all the charter schools hire "Teach For America" (TFA) "two year wonders" because they are cheap and not because they are "quality teachers". In fact, hiring TFA "newbies" is simply hurting student academic achievement by not hiring the "quality teachers" necessary to improve student academic outcomes. To help the student academic achievement of the school, the Principal needs to hire experienced teachers not the TFA "newbies" . Education reformers may say they are "quality teachers" but their simply "full of crap"..
The Gary Rubinstein blog states that over 80% of the TFA "newbies" leave the classroom after their fourth year of teaching. In fact, the majority leave the classroom without ever achieving tenure. No wonder the TFA "newbies" are known as the "two year wonders".
The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) states that a "highly qualified teacher" is properly credentialed in their subject area, has experience, and possess classroom management skills. By contrast the TFA "newbies" are not credentialed, have no experience, except an inadequate five week training course, and usually has poor classroom management skills.
Despite the obvious problems associated with the TFA "newbies", the media, politicians and their education reformer friends will falsely proclaim that the TFA "newbies" are just as good as experienced teachers. Didn't Mayor Bloomberg once say that teacher experience doesn't count?
The bottom line is you get what you pay for and if you practice "education on the cheap" by hiring TFA "newbie teachers" then as Principal of the school you have nobody to blame but yourselves when your hire a "two year wonder" from the TFA and can't understand why the TFA "newbie's" students don't improve academically.
The airwaves and newspapers are being bombarded with pro charter school commercials about how important they are for the children of New York City and don't take away parental choice. However, what these commercials don't show is the dark side of the charter school story and the "uneven playing field" the charters enjoyed under the Bloomberg Administration that allowed them an increasing part of the DOE budget, facilities, and private access, while exempting them of oversight. This "gravy train" allowed charters to thrive and expand as Randi Weingarten failed to challenge then Chancellor Joel Klein on co-locating charter schools in public school buildings. Now that the De Blasio Administration has decided to take another look at the recent co-locations, he found that 9 of 45 were not appropriate and that 3 of Eva Moskowitz's Success Academies co-locations are to be revoked. Moreover, many of the charters will soon be paying rent that will result in another outcry from the charter schools and their supporters. Finally, look for many of the rules that the charter schools were allowed to ignore, such as auditing and certified teachers to be imposed on the charter sector.
Let's look at the dark side of the story about charter schools. Many education reformers hail the charter schools as a step forward in education. However, the reality is
very different. Overall, despite the claims, charter schools are no
more successful than their District schools and experience very high teacher
turnover, usually most charter schools have a complete turnover in staff
by the third year. Furthermore, the charter schools expel students due
to academic, behavioral, or attendance issues and fail to replace these
students. They also are accused of consoling out students by
threatening to have them repeat a grade if they don't leave, especially
when the student is going into a testable grade. Here sre some statistics about the Harlem Success charter school that provide some context to this issue.
83 students entered kindergarten in 2006-07, the school’s first year of
operation. When that class reached 4th grade in 2010-11, it had only 53
students — a drop of 36 percent. Harlem Success also took in a 1st grade
class with 73 students in 2006. When that group reached 5th grade, it
too had shrunk appreciably — by 36 percent. The attrition accelerated as
the classes advanced.....
For a more detailed review of Eva Moskowitz's charter school student attrition rate read Ed Notes online blog. In addition, the Chicago Public School system reported that the Chicago charter schools expel 12 times more students that the public schools and there is little reason to believe its any different for the NYC charter schools.
Moreover, the charter
schools focus on the testable subjects like English and Math to show
artificially high test scores. Many of these schools give little
attention to a genuine total education of the student, its just "drill and kill" for the English and Math tests for the remaining students left in the school. Additionally, the charter schools exclude Special Education and English Language Learners from their school by claiming they don't have the resources to provide the services they need. Finally, every dollar that the DOE gives to a charter school is one dollar less for the NYC public schools so its like "robbing Peter to pay Paul".
Once the charter schools are subject to the same rules and regulations that the public schools are subject to and has a representative and diverse student body (segregation in charter schools have always been a problem) a fairer comparison can be made between the district and charter schools.
In reality, the charter school miracle is simply "smoke and mirrors" and when their operation is scrutinized the "dark side" of this so called "miracle" shows a pattern of exclusion of "high needs" students, lack of a community representative student body, and a failure to provide a stable and certified teaching staff necessary to give a complete educational experience, not just constant and never ending "test preparation". My other stories on charter schools can be found Here.
Its common knowledge that the New York State flawed roll out of the "Common Core" standards has resulted in some very dismal 2013 test scores for grades 3 to 8. Its obvious to many educators that the State's attempt to repair a plane while in flight has ended up crash landing, even if the NYSED doesn't want to admit it. Now the "Common Core" standards are being introduced to the high schools. However, for classes that end with a Regents the inclusion of "Common Core" material is problematical since many of the Regents have not been modified for the "Common Core" and the curriculum associated with these Regents remains unchanged.
Since I am a Science teacher, let's see the problems associated with the implementation of the "Common Core" materials into the existing curriculum. First, a majority of schools, under pressure to save money and limit the amount of teachers they need to hire, have reduced the number of days for Science instruction from a 5-1 schedule (five days of instruction plus one lab) to a 4-1 schedule (four days of instruction and one lab). The result is that the students have almost a month less of instruction days and the teachers find themselves under time pressure to finish the curriculum by the end of the school year. Where once, Science teachers had almost a month to review for the Regents, just finishing the curriculum is a small victory. Anecdotal evidence has shown that schools that went to the 4-1 schedule resulted in a significantly lower Regents passing rate. This is primarily due to the DOE's misguided "fair student funding" program that encourages principals to hire fewer teachers with their budget in mind.
Second, the Regents have remained essentially "unchanged" and the Science teachers must cover the multiple units and topics that show up on the Regents. If Science teachers are pressured to include the more detailed "Common Core" standards into their teaching of the subject, the units and topics will take longer to teach and add to the time pressure these Science teachers already have in the 4-1 schedule. The result would be that some teachers will skip topics in a unit in the hopes that the Regents doesn't have too many questions on the topics that the teacher skipped. In other words, its like "robbing Peter to pay Paul" and to me this is not allowing for masterly of the subject by the students.
Finally, principals have found out that neither the DOE or UFT cares or bothered to crack down on schools using teachers not certified in the content specialty that is required by State Education Law. Look at PS 106, there was apparently no Special Education Teacher for the Special Education students and nobody seemed to care or do anything about it. How about Queens Vocational and Richmond Hill, amoung many others, who uses non-certified teachers in that content specialty to teach Earth Science? Can you image asking these teachers to include more rigorous and in-depth instruction in a subject that they are barely able to understand themselves? In quite a few cases these teachers are only one step ahead of the students they are teaching the course to.
For "Common Core" to successfully be incorporated into a high school Regents curriculum, the following issues must be resolved.
Eliminate the "fair student funding formula" and allow principals to hire the appropriate amount of teachers for their school.
Go back to the 5-1 Science schedule like the rest of the State.
All teachers need to be certified in the content specilty that they are teaching in.
The Regents must be radically changed by including less units and topics to accommodate the "Common Core" standards.
Presently, the failure of the DOE to do the right thing for the NYC students has hurt student academic achievement and incorporating "Common Core" into the classroom without fixing the existing policy problems in the City schools will only result in the plane crashing.