Monday, October 13, 2014
For Many, The Charter School Miracle Really Is A Mirage.
If you read the New York City newspapers, you would think the charter schools are the answer to the "failing schools" issue. According to the print media the charter schools have shown the way to student academic achievement. However, when you look at the few successful charter schools and go deeper into the statistics, you would find that the charter school miracle is simply a mirage. A look at the NYC Public School Parents blog is a must read to see what the damaging effects the charter schools brought to the public schools in Harlem's District 5.
The supporters and backers of charter schools claim that these schools give minority children a choice and gives them a chance to succeed academically. What the charter school supporters fail to mention is that the successful charter schools practice an exclusion policy that makes sure that "high needs" students are not part of the student population of the school. A UFT report shows how the charter schools fail to serve the most neediest students.
First, to apply to a charter school, a family must fill out a detailed application that many families don't want to be bothered with. Therefore, many of the more dysfunctional, high poverty families are excluded by their failure to fill out the application for selection into the charter school. Moreover, the charter schools expect parental involvement and volunteers for their school and this excludes families who don't have the time or motivation to do that. Not surprisingly, the above referenced UFT report showed that charter schools have less deep poverty students than the district schools as a result of the application process.
Second, the charter school will discourage English Language Learners and Special Education Students from applying to the school by claiming that they don't have the resources or services for their children. This limits the number of "high needs" students who are students at the charter schools.
Third, many of these charters have a strict student discipline policy and behaviorally challenged students are usually kicked out of the school and dumped into the district public school. If a parent balks at removing the student, the school will threaten to have the student repeat the grade as an encouragement to have the student leave the charter school.
Fourth, If a student academically struggles, the charter school will counsel out the student before they hit the testing grades, The charter schools use the same trick as they do for the behaviorally challenged students by threatening the parent with the child's repeating the grade as an incentive to remove the child from the school. Too many students are kicked out of charter schools for various reasons. More importantly, the charter schools fail to replace the students once the testing grades start. This ensures the neediest students are not part of the charter school cohort.
Finally, the narrowly focused English and Math curriculum at the expense of other subjects and their obsession with test preparation for the State tests hurts the student's total education experience. This shows up in the failure of any of the charter school students being accepted into the competitive specialized high schools.
Many of the charter schools are totally segregated with 100% Black or Hispanic and with extremely high teacher turnover. Worse, the teachers are given a script and teach from the script. Little if any innovative teaching goes on in the charter schools nor do teachers last long enough to develop the teaching skills to help their students.
The charter school miracle is really a mirage.