Saturday, March 01, 2014
The Dark Side Of The Charter School Story.
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.