Thursday, March 23, 2017

Charter Sector High Schools Are The Stepchildren Of The NYC School System

One of the little known issues in the New York City schools is how terrible most of the charter sector high schools are when it comes to receiving a quality education. This post will discuss the many shortcomings that the New York City charter high schools suffer from.

Student Body:
Many of the students have previously struggled in public schools and see the charter high school as a "second chance" to continue their education.  In far too many cases these charter high schools are more like the "transfer schools" than a traditional public high school.  In talking to teachers who work or have worked in charter high schools, they tell me that the students have academic problems and many of them have some sort of disability. Academic achievement is simply a joke in many cases.

Teacher Turnover:
All the charter high schools suffer from extremely high teacher turnover.  It is not unusual for students to have had three or more teachers from the beginning to the end of the school year.  In one charter high school, I was told that five different teachers were used last school year for a Math class.  It's not unusual for many of the charter high schools to have uncertified teachers instructing students, especially in Math and Science.  In one school I was told that a 22 year old "newbie" English teacher, fresh out of Teach For America, was hired to teach a Regents Science course.

Unstable Administration:
Many of the charter high school administrators are new to their administrative role and hiring and firing is a common occurrence, even during the school year. At best, administrative quality is uneven and at worst incompetent. Is it little wonder that poor administration goes hand in hand with high teacher turnover and poor academic student achievement.

Funding Uncertainties:
Contrary to what many of us think, charter high schools suffer from tight budgets, lack of resources, and technology issues.  This is especially true for profit-making organizations that run the school.   These private charters must turn a profit for their hedge fund sponsors or risk being closed.  Therefore, the bottom line must be met and its not education.  Moreover, the people above the school administration are usually business people and have no experience in education so there is almost always a disconnect between the school academic goals and the profit obsessed board that oversees the school, usually with disastrous results.

Lack of Community Roots:
Almost all charter high schools have no roots in the community they reside in and many of the students do not live in the community.  Without the community support and a reason to embrace the school by the neighborhood, it makes it very difficult for the school to be able to survive long-term and almost impossible to thrive as an educational entity.

The bottom line is that the charter highs schools are the stepchild of not only the New York City charter schools but the entire educational system and the joke is on the students who end up at these schools looking for a quality education..


Anonymous said...

Yeah and the Eva Moskowitch high school will be a crying fest for students as we are hearing stories from teachers who escaped the charter hell hole schools telling tales of students crying in the halls - elementary level - and the staff do nothing to comfort them. So now Eva can try and run a high school and this will be a laughing stock because lets see Eva talk down to the thugs at the high school level the way she treats the tots...not gonna happen and Eva should watch out because the thugs will eat her alive

Anonymous said...

Actually, all the items you mentioned are the same in all charter schools. (Elementary, middle, and high school) I worked in a charter for a few years. Every single teacher was trying to get out of it but it was at the height of the recession when there was a hiring freeze.

Bronx ATR said...

Very true, Chaz. While the elementary school charters appear to have a modicum of success, the charter high schools I've seen first hand are an abomination. The shame of it is they have replaced moderately to highly successful public schools in campus buildings with a far inferior product. The public have been sold a bill of goods, as have the parents and the students themselves. I became friendly with one high school charter TFA teacher. A regal looking young woman wandered into the campus library one afternoon, while I was eating lunch. What struck me wasn't her physical appearance, but her attire. She was wearing what looked like a fast food uniform, blue and red. She was followed by a small group of similarly attired mid to late twenties young men and women. They all went on the computers, eating their lunch while working feverishly. There was no comradery, no pleasant banter - just work. I didn't know what to make of them, but if I had lunch during that period - I was sure to find them there. She asked me if I was a teacher and I explained I was an ATR. She told me that was her scheduled lunch period, one in which she had to do input work daily. She started her day at 7:30 AM and worked until 5:30 PM. Her salary was $15,000 per year (this was two years ago) and received marginal health benefits. She told me the most common phrase she heard from her students was 'Suck my d-ck". I asked her why she would subject herself to this. She said she signed up for 5 years to work in the worst schools/areas and her six figure college loans would be paid for, in full. I asked her what happens when her sentence in hell was over. She smiled for the first time and said she wouldn't step foot in the Bronx again and would never, ever teach, and that she would get her life back without the burden of those loans.

Anonymous said...

The new indentured servants in America.

Unknown said...

Chaz, I agree with you but let me offer something for a minute....People should not lose site of the fact that many teachers who end up in these charters which offer minimal benefits as compared to the public schools were once DOE teachers themselves at an earlier time. In addition these charters are a year to year operation so as long as I work in the charters I will always have to worry about my placement for the following year. I was/am a discontinued DOE teacher and I have no choice but to work in a charter. I am not going into a private school or catholic school and earn far less money, and it's very hard to land a job in Long Island. I have no where else to go. It sucks that I have no retirement benefits and no TDA. I'm not saying that I would work in the DOE long enough to receive them, but it's nice to have the satisfaction of knowing that they exist. I really miss my TDA more than anything. I'm not totally destroyed because I was very fortunate to get hired in a relatively good charter school where I am getting a comparable salary to what I would be making had I stayed in the DOE. We have a very strong administration and supportive members in our staff. From my experience the principal is supportive and is not one to be completely disconnected from his entire staff with his own agenda. We regularly have weekly meetings where we discuss problematic students and the discuss as a team and a community what action needs to be taken next. Students are reprimanded when they do the wrong thing. They actually get consequences. Where I work now I'm happy to report it is the exact opposite of the way things were for me in the public school that I was discontinued from which was the reason why I was discontinued in the first place.

If I had gotten tenure instead of getting discontinued I would have left my former school and looked to teach in a much better stronger and more supportive public school.

Highly Effective King Clovis said...

15,000? Are you kidding me. Sounds more like indentured servitude.

Anonymous said...

Met a teacher that works at a charter school at a party last night. She has only been teaching 5 years and has more experience than the majority of the teachers at her school. Her principal is not even 30. She says every single teacher at her charter school is trying to get out and get into the DOE.

Anonymous said...

I'd never send my child to a charter school for the simple reason that charter teachers have relinquished their political rights. I want my child's teachers to be role models, not ciphers who can be fired at will, as in the dog-eat-dog business world that Bloomberg tried to emulate. Charter teachers -- unprotected, voiceless, easily exploited -- are political pawns and have nothing to say of value. I certainly don't want them standing in front of my child in the sacred setting of education.

Bronx ATR said...

Beautiful comment. I feel exactly the same way.

Anonymous said...

I am the poster for 8:00 and I fully take the position that many of you here have voiced. But I also think many here are putting all charters in a vacuum. Every individual charter is different. I happen to be working in one of the better charters in the bronx. 100 of the graduating class got accepted into college of their choice. We outperform Ed the community schools in the district.

Anonymous said...

7:49, a response:

I'm sure you're a good teacher, but I'd also bet you're no education genius either. Let's see you teach the legions of kids who can't read near grade level or who are severely emotionally disturbed. These children constantly disrupt the educational process but can't be removed to raise the school's performance in the eyes of a benighted press and public. That's my point. Charters are private institutions by definition and have the power to remove its teachers and students at will. Any charter employee either embraces that fact or is working -- wittingly or not -- under duress.

Anonymous said...


You're right I am no genius nor am I claiming to be one. I'm in my 7th year as a full time teacher. Your description of the legions of kids were EXACTLY the types of kids that I was forced to work with when I taught in the Queens Public school that I was discontinued from. The behaviors exhibited from those kids that administration well knew were a terror to teach, were the ammo that was used to justify all those ineffective that my principal and AP gave me.

And something to also think about is that even assuming that what you say for charters is true, most charters in fact use the lotto system for admission which means that they have no preferential treatment in admitting students.

Anonymous said...

Charters are not private institutions btw. They are public schools that's are run and operated by a non-public. Many charters are still under the commission of the DOE and are subject to all its rules and regulations.

Anonymous said...

Charters are not private institutions btw. They are public schools that are run and operated by a non-public entity. Many charters are still under the commission of the DOE and are subject to all its rules and regulations.

Anonymous said...

11:12, a response:
Charters are not public schools. Repeat it till you get it. They are private corporations that use public taxpayer dollars to run their private business entities, in this case schools. The fact that the DOE --which is funded by government distribution of taxpayer dollars -- unilaterally decided to allow this is an act of public betrayal and in-your-face corruption. No surprise there, I guess.

What I think you're defending is the severe discipline (and ultimate expulsion) these charters are allowed to get away with, as opposed to the embarrassing lack of law and order in the DOE's public schools. This is a byproduct of the type of kids charters get: Kids from decent families that don't want their children mixing with the futureless riffraff who are destroying the public schools. I get that, and my colleagues and I bemoan the fact that too many public schools refuse to enforce simple and common-sense disciplinary measures. People inside the DOE, it would seem, want this chaos to continue until the public school system is a thing of the past.

But please be clear on the major point: Charter schools in NYC and around the country are private schools that profit from public taxpayer dollars. This was the original intent of the wealthy Republican conservatives who conceived of the charter system after the voucher system tanked in the 1980s and '90s. Charters are nothing more than a money grab by the well-heeled American elite who see public education as a multi-billion dollar pot-o'-gold right there for the taking.

Anonymous said...


Wrong again my friend. I suggest that you do your research on them because at the end of the day you cannot argue with the fact that charters ARE unequivocally PUBLIC SCHOOLS that are open to the public. Not all charter schools are commissioned by private corporations. So many in the NEW YOARk area are commissioned, operated, and run by SUNY and/or the DOE. Many are run by local public officials of local public schools, or by a board of directors or by private citizens. They are independently operated public schools started by parents, teachers, community organizations, and for-profit companies. These schools receive tax dollars, but the sponsoring group may also come up with private funding. Charter schools do not charge tuition.

*If you were making that argument as it relates to conventional private schools where tuition is funded 100% by the parents or a parochial school, then perhaps you would have a much stronger argument in terms of school autonomy when it comes to discipline.

And for the record my current work experience does not mean I am naive about what goes on in so many of these schools.Don't assume otherwise. I have literally worked with and taught scores and masses of some of the worst and most hopeless kids that NYC has to offer when I worked in a public school. In fact I have done about six months of research on the topic and am preparing to do a dissertation about it as we speak.

I am not defending anything. My response was in regards to some of the comments that were made in regards to Chaz's post because many (perhaps even you) fail to take into consideration the fact every individual charter is different and that they should not be grouped together as one single entity in which people bash and complain about.

And you are absolutely wrong regarding to the byproducts argument that you were making in your last comment. In so many charters including the two that I have worked at, the cliental is exactly the same. As I stated many charters (including the one I previously worked in) and the one that I currently work in use the lotto system where the kids get in solely by being selected from a large pool of applicants that would otherwise be attending a NYC public school. The charter where I worked last year the kids were a terror and many of the disciplinary issues that exist in the DOE were issues that we faced on a daily basis. When you are allowed to punch kids, in the large picture it helps but makes little difference. What matters far more is the ambiance of the school and the community that I attribute almost 100% to whoever the leader(s) is/are.

Anonymous said...

1:52, a response,
Good work in trying to rationalize your indentured servitude to the rich. The fact remains that you can be fired at the will of your employer. I can't. The fact also remains that your school can expel students deemed too much of a problem. Mine can't.

If charters are superior products, why are they choosing teachers who have been discontinued from the DOE, unable to make the cut?

Why are charters needed anyway? Why not just help public schools that are struggling? If your answer is the typical Republican talking point, that education needs competition to raise the general performance level, then you are admitting that you view education as a business and not a social institution. In that case, teachers are merely part of the bottom line, replaceable with less expensive models.

I can't understand why anyone would defend the charter system. They are all run on the business model, which means profits -- not teachers, not children -- are paramount. If your argument is that some of these charters claim to be non-profit, there is always a board of directors making massive salaries from tax dollars. Deny it all you like. Better yet, why don't you open up your own charter school and get some of those lovely public bucks for yourself?

Anonymous said...

"The fact also remains that your school can expel students deemed too much of a problem. Mine can't."
"I can't understand why anyone would defend the charter system."

There you have it.......

"Good work in trying to rationalize your indentured servitude to the rich."

I'm not rationalizing anything. I clearly stated in several earlier posts on that public schools are clearly the better of the two options. Apparently you did not not read my comments otherwise you would not have made that statement. If I wasn't in the position that I am/was in I would have stayed in the public school system but in a better school.

"If charters are superior products, why are they choosing teachers who have been discontinued from the DOE, unable to make the cut?"

Because in the world of charters the issue of a discontinuance its irrelevant but this is not true for the DOE. And it sounds like you're also making the faulty assumption that being a discontinued teacher from the DOE somehow equates to an inferior teacher. This is completely untrue as I'm sure you and so many others well know.

"The fact remains that you can be fired at the will of your employer. I can't. "

Good for you. I'm sure that you're well aware of the fact that while you can't be outright fired like I can very easily be systematically targeted and ultimately removed a relatively short time later. They can get rid of you for any or no reason at all. If they want you gone they'll find someway of doing it. A couple of ineffective observations later and now you're facing 3020A charges.

Anonymous said...

Why not just help public schools that are struggling?

That all depends on how you define that term. How does one define the world "help?? anyway" Ask the DOE that question and they'll refer you to their dubious renewal program that has an abysmal track record of success.

For starters, you can help the kids, teachers, and the schools by getting rid of the masses of ineffective bureaucrats, and non-working policies. But of course that will never happen.

I wrote an email to Sue Edelman of the New York post and I made reference to post from Chaz dated back to 2015 where he pointed out very candidly everything wrong with the renewal program and why it was doomed to fail from day 1.

Anonymous said...

I was reading the debate; I had to put in my two cents. Anyone with a brain and cranial cavity knows that charters are not and can never be public schools - not even unionized ones. The argument that charters can do good things or be better than the worthless Queens school you lost your job in is easy to make. It's very telling you would you need to write a dissertation on the topic, as turning a semi-public institution (charters) into an entirely public funded and ran one is quite the indefensible thesis indeed. You're hung up on this detail when all is being said here is a job at a charter schools sucks. Are you saying it doesn't? Why don't you say all the perks, benefits, rights and longevity should be given up in favor of a charter job. If you were not systematically targeted and still working at your truly public teaching gig, would you have quit to take on a charter position? Surely you would take a charter job over a truly public school in a wealthy suburban school district because you are in it for the benefit of the children you teach and not yourself. Thus, you work for your corporate masters, writing a flemsy bullshit dissertation hardly worth anyones time or money, other than a charter school lacky of course in your spare time, if you have any. Your response is highly anticipated but likely ignored.

Anonymous said...

Anyone with a brain and cranial cavity knows that you're a complete asshole. Your comments and assertions about my attitude towards charter schools are ignorant and ill founded and you don't know what you're talking about. I never professed once to defending the charter network over public schools. Furthermore my dissertation has absolutely nothing to do with defending charter schools over public schools. You came in to the debate quite late anyway. Your two cents is noted and thrown in the garbage where it belongs.

Anonymous said...

To 9:01 and the other poster (you might be one and the same person since you're both talking out of your ass without bothering to read the entire conversation from top down)

What I can't seem to understand is that you're focusing all of your energy bashing charters (which I explicitly stated were inferior) but what exactly are you comparing them to? It's like the Cobra is worse than the rattlesnake argument.

Let's take the DOE. The largest public public education employer in the state and without any question the shittiest. No pension in the charter world you say?? What percentage of newbies and semi experienced teachers are gonna make the 5 10 or 15 year cut without bailing out. Guess what??? Education is not what it used to be. It is not a long term career path as it should be and as I once was. So your argument is fruitless and pointless as far as I'm concerned. I challenge you to prove otherwise.

Anonymous said...

Despite your superfluous cursing, you had to admit there is more than one person that believes charter schools are avenues for corporate opportunists. I read all your entries and I could have read this ten years ago when I started teaching or ten minutes ago my perspective would be the same and similar to the person you have been arguing with. I'm glad to hear your charter is graduating kids and that you may have found an educational institution on your third try in seven years that you may not give-up on - this I had to decipher from all the tangents taken. However, I read your last comment that really disturbed me. "[education] is not a long term career path as it should be and as [it] once was." Charters are the force putting that corporate mindset in your head - but it is simply not true. How many charters are in Westchester Countty? Suffolk? Nassau? Now of those <1% of schools, how many of the students are minorities of challenged socio-economic status? 100%? Now of the teachers, how many are engaged in long-term, fruitful careers that benefit the public trust and the students they teach, as 'role models' as your opponent mentions in these comments. Let me present the argument in the opposite: look at Look at salaries and longevity of teachers in affluent districts. There are many. There are highly effective educators throughout these high performing school districts that have successful, long term career paths. It is that way. It was always that way. Charters are, and I say this with all due respect despite being called names and subjected to constant grammar struggles and misspellings, "the shittiest." Shittiest to work for first and foremost. Teachers at charter schools are agents for the segregation that takes place in NYC schooling. Yes, there are excellent NYC public schools, specialized and others that are segregated as well but not nearly as explicitly as charter schools. Teachers at charter schools are private employees, not agents of the State, that work for less pay, benefits and absolutely no job protections. Most would call them scabs, and that's acknowledging that many school districts are not unionized. In short, you need to find a calling and teaching, it sounds to me, is not for you. I say this again, with all due respect. Arguing that charters have a public benefit is a false narrative - like a business, they put the interests of their Board of Directors ahead of children. Entertain this analogy: healthcare. Would you want to be taken care of by the bureaucrats that seek a profit from your care OR solely doctors that seek only to better your health. Education and Medicine are two concepts, and I hope you see this connection. Private interests, money, has no business in our healthcare or education. NONE. Teachers do the most with what they have. You can wiggle around the idea, including writing a dissertation about, how charter schools really are complex and not truly private entities and on and on but the bottom line is either you are with the public good or against it. I have two kids of my own and I worry if people like you are so easily persuaded that "education is changing" - it's not - and that charter jobs and schools are better than any effectively managed public school - they are not - that my kids can be grow up in a world surrounded by this false parade of money and work slavery that is the basis for which this entire article and comment string is based. It is hard to get a public sector job after being discontinued with the DOE but I encourage you to seek out political action on the side of the WORKERS and PUBLIC - the future of America (hopefully) and NOT on the side of CHARTERS and CORPORATIONS. Maybe you can unionize your charter, become a political activist and put your words to good use rather than attacking our public institutions and public jobs that make our country somewhat salvageable. STOP DEFENDING CORPORATE GREED.

Anonymous said...

Number one you cursed at me first. Not only that but you were very antagonistic and hostile in your comments. You attacked my character so all that being said you can expect people to reciprocate.If you haven't learned that by now than nobody will ever take you seriously in future disagreements. Number two I would without a doubt accept a position in an affluent district on the Island as I alluded to that fact in my original post. I am referring to the DOE and the cesspool of corruption coupled with politics and a bloated centralized burecracy that guarantees a very short career. If everyone who was willing to could get a job in the island they would have and would never have even given the DOE a thought to begin with.

Anonymous said...

I would also just like to remind you that I was forced to venture off in the charter world. I would still be in the DOE now if I was not pushed out so early in my career. As stated, I am for public schools (not charters) I thought that I made the point very clear on more than one occasion. Regardless of the political and financial agenda of the charter world I will outright tell you that the school I am in is a utopia (despite all its flaws) as compared to where I was. Your arguments against charters have merit but by the same token look at the DOE.....Where is all the money going and who is using kids as pawns to fulfill their true agenda? In the large picture I just don't see that much of a difference at the end of the day.

Anonymous said...

And one final thought.I never once even remotely attacked the public institution as a whole. You are embellishing my words and personifying me as everything that you passionately hate. I'm just a guy trying to make a living who had no choice but to go into the charter sector. Nothing more nothing less. Just because there's some variation in the way that you and I view charters doesn't mean that you should regard me as the patriarch of charters.

You wanna apologize to me now or later?

Anonymous said...

Apologize to someone who called me an asshole would be a hard pill to swallow indeed. I understand your plight in this economy but understand that my antagonism is squarely towards charter corporations and my examples were based on your evidence to make a larger point. I would have not engaged in this banter if not for the fact that I saw some promise, through the hyperbole, that you would say what you have said in your latest comments, that you are a champion for public schools who "just needs to make a living." I don't fault you for this, or attacking the waste in the DOE either. However, when you make comparisons of these evil corporations (charters) to the public school you once worked in you lose me and any sense of collegiality. Don't be a shill for charter scab jobs. I'm sure your corporate masters are perusing these posts as their leaders count our hard earned tax payments so you hesitate to speak truly as a man of the people. Leave your corporate hole in your cave and come into the light of truly public service. Every child in one of these slumlord storefront operarions you call a school needs to be expelled by the State via the fastest means possible for their own welfare. All charter employees must be removed immediately and sent to public reeducation camps. The Boards dissolved by the State and members sent to prison for fraud and betraying the public trust. Finally, in this utopian society I have painted, teachers in the charter schools for their pain and suffering, on a case by case basis, will be given vouchers to gain further hospitality training at their local learning assignments to never speak of this failwd charter experiment/corporate exploitation ever again.

Anonymous said...

You sound like somebody whose on a lot of "pills."