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.



Bronx ATR said...

Excellent article. You may, in the near future, see a dystopian system put in place where 50% of schools are charters and the other 50% dumping grounds for those charters. The tenured, the ATRs, the unionists, etc. would work in the dumps. The charters will get the best students, resources and out of work actors (to read scripts).

Anonymous said...

I interviewed at several charter schools last year. Some were not well known, and one was an extremely acclaimed charter school. There was a huge gap between the utopian claims by the news media and what I saw was the daily reality.

What I saw:

1. Students as unruly and out of control as you'd expect to find in any inner-city public school. In one case I saw a huge fight break out in the girl's bathroom.
2. Huge numbers of vacancies at all times. If they're so good, why do teachers leave at the drop of a hat?
3. Several parents walk in with an application and voila the kids were enrolled. The lottery is pretty much a marketing scheme.
4. Ridiculous pay. One charter school wanted me to tutor after school for four hours a day, going into evening hours, no overtime pay, for barely over the minimum wage.

ReadyToRetireNow said...

Anon - You mentioned the huge number of vacancies. Read the link that I posted above. Quite sobering.

Anon -

Anonymous said...

Why don't white children attend charters? I'm not trying to be funny, I'm actually serious. Why are charter schools 100% black/Latino?

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:39, I think it's flat out racism, but wrapped up in something slightly more benign than George Wallace standing in front of a university bellowing about segregation.

Charter school operatives like Eva Moskowitz or HCZ assume that mostly poor black/Latino parents will tolerate things that middle class/white parents wouldn't tolerate. For instance, in Success Academy you can apparently be suspended for "not making eye contact" with the teacher. Try that in Long Island. "Your daughter was suspended for two days." "Why?" "She didn't make eye contact."

Another thing is the ads: if Success Academy was boasting these "incredible" test scores but the student population was a mix of Asian/black/white/Latino/South Asian people would shrug. But the media gets more excited with the idea that students they assume to be "underachieving' (read: poor black/Latino) can be "proficient."

As I said, just because it's not George Wallace screaming "segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever" doesn't mean it's not totally cynical, unacceptable racism.

Anonymous said...

Well, charters can never fully take over because they would then be NYC public schools and I'm sure they don't wan that. Can't kick kids out if there is nowhere to put them.

How bad is the pay at charters? I thought it was comparable to public schools? Is there a salary scale somewhere?

Anonymous said...

Its all smoke and mirrors people. Politicians are inferior humans who are programmed to be self sufficient and always bow to the dollar. Cuomo is prime example of politician who plays his fiddle for the charter people and then pretends he is a friend of the UFT. He low balled diblasio with a shot between the legs sticking up for moskowitch and her phony foes...did he care that students in NYC schools would suffer?? No inferior people...self centered neophytes who believe they are going to live forever and that the world revolves around them. The earth revolves around the sun but people like cuomo and moskowitch seem to think that the earth revolves around them. One can only hope that these "inferior" human beings get it and get it good.

Anonymous said...

its funny, and i will preface that i am not good at it but it seems as though i cannot distinguish between who are students now and who are actual teachers!!! strange but true. the nyc schools are a complete mess made up of newbie teachers who either look like high school students or college kids...hardly the school we all know where you can actually tell who are the students and who are the teachers...such sham..such bs...such incompentance....such bloomberg klein theory of drunken science...a hole in the biggest this is what happens when everyone in the private sector loses their jobs and floods the education job market and the politicians now teach us how we need to run schools...a fregan disaster and disgrace on nyc but nyc somehow got stuck with bloomberg and mr devil klein goo goo eyes klein

Anonymous said...

great raise in our last paycheck. i think it is alnmost a $40.00 increase. we are fools to put up with this nonsense!!!

ReadyToRetireNow said...

Anon 7:14 - -Yep, that 40 bucks will really help me with the huge spike in NYC property taxes, DEP water bill, insurance, and Con Edison gas/electric. No more cable for me, as it is now a luxury that can't be afforded. I am currently using an old fashioned tv antenna to get free OTA local channels. Better than nothing, I suppose.