Saturday, October 31, 2009

To Have and Have Not

There's been a lot of talk out there about charter schools. Bloomberg is for them. Arne Duncan is for them. Barack Obama is for them. Even Randi Weingarten is for them, despite the fact that she's being paid big bucks to represent public schools.

And I have to admit, charters have a lot going for them. For example, they have:

  • The ability to 'cream' students, or choose the ones most likely too succeed.
  • No nasty union contract.
  • Freedom in hiring (and firing).
  • Flexible pay and the ability to reward teachers for merit.
  • More motivated parents (you have to sign kids up--that alone indicates more motivation).
  • Longer school days and longer school years.
  • Far fewer ESL students and special education students.
  • Lots of seats and good facilities, often taken directly from public school kids--sometimes in a manner reminiscent of a daylight smash and grab robbery.

In fact, charters seem to have all the things that politicians say we need in order to make our schools a success. Of course, there is one thing that public schools have that charters do not:

  • Success.

Yes, that's right. Despite all the so-called advantages mentioned above, public schools kicked charter school ass. We took their lunch money. On state exams, public school kids showed greater progress this year than charter school kids. Yes, the state exams that BloomKlein tout as the be-all-and-end-all of education.

Now, you know that Bloomberg and Klein love data. It wouldn't surprise me if they put little chunks of data in their boxer shorts before going to work every day. So this has to sting. Still, they are plowing forth regardless. As NYC Educator points out, far from admitting any error, BloomKlein appears to be doubling down on charter schools.

Nevertheless, it's time to rejoice, NYC teachers. We beat them at their own game. We did it despite them stacking the deck against us.

We rock.


NYC Educator said...

I'm going to hold back on rejoicing. There's still a blatant two-tier system here, and our kids are still on the bottom. Though the charter operators are clearly not as competent as us, the odds are stacked in their favor, and will continue to be stacked that way. That does not bode well for us.

And regardless of what the figures say, the press will continue with one-sided coverage that hurts both us and our kids.

Anonymous said...

As a 20-year veteran who has taught to all levels of students with various needs (IEP, ELLs, foster homes, shelters, etc.), I know that the public school teachers are more prepared than the charter school teachers. When NYC teachers can take low level 1 students and bring them to upper level 2 and maybe low level 3, the BloomKlein should look and praise the teachers of the public school system for their ability to deal with various challenges that come into the classroom on a daily basis. Could you imagine if the public schools were to use the same selective student process, added sponsored fundings, a pristine, functional, well-equipped facilities, create and develop curriculum and pacing charts by teachers and only by teachers, have over 90% parents actively involved in their child's education, and then look at the success being accomplished without longer days and school year? We would really kick more charter schools stat! It would be nice to have a school system reversal. Let all the Charter schools get all the ELLs, special ed students, truants, absent/apathetic parents, teach in dilapidated buildings with minimal supplies and resources, and a forced-down-your-throat curriculum from Tweed with SMART goals for each of their students. After that, let's compared their stats with out stats - since we are supposed to compare apples to apples.

w. andrew stephenson said...

I'd just like to point out that not all charter networks are failing. Some of them do quite well. I'm really not trying to incite anger here. I just don't understand the blunt nature of the OP.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Stephenson did you read accountabletalk's piece on the stats of charter schools here in NYC. Have you read the latest report on the not-so-impressive stats of the charter schools? I'm pretty sure that in Buffalo the charter schools are probably comparable to the Buffalo public schools. However, here in NYC we are presently dealing with the Haves and have nots. Please see how charter schools are invading the limited spaces of the public schools as they keep 'creaming' the best students out of the public schools. This is nothing else but Separate but Equal movement brought on by union-busting politicians. I am not against innovative ideas and approaches brought on by the various education institution. But, to deprive the public schools of the necessary resources to help them to thrive where children are able to success is Machiavellian at best by the powers that be at the DoE.

Mr. Talk said... one is doubting that there are some success stories among charters. Certainly there should be, considering how many advantages you have going for you. Most schools scores would skyrocket if ELLs and Special Ed students were reduced significantly, as is the case in charters.

The point of the post is that despite being given all the advantages--the money, the facilities, the class size, the cherry picking--charters still lag behind public schools. And that's not looking at just one or two schools--that is the overall city average.

We shouldn't be competing. All city kids should get the same resources and opportunities. But politicians hold up charter schools as the answer to all our problems, and clearly they are not.

I'm sorry if the post came off as gloating a bit, but I think public school teachers have cause to celebrate. Certainly, had the results been different, the mayor and Klein would shout it to the rooftops.

And NYC--I agree with you. Still, I'm choosing to rejoice while I can, given that the mayor will totally ignore these results.

w. andrew stephenson said...

Mr. Talk,

Thanks for your prompt response. I work at a charter school, and I understand that there are many reasons that NYC DOE teachers are aggravated about the current mayoral administration and control of our schools. I've had a chance to read some of your other posts, and I'll definitely add you to my daily RSS intake.

To respond to the other posts, yes, I've had fairly good exposure to the issues surrounding them, although as a younger teacher, I certainly have a lot of work to do to develop my practice, and less time to keep my nose buried in school politics.

Here's to good teaching, no matter where it occurs.

Anonymous said...

Mr. AT and Mr. Stephenson thank you for your opinions, compassion, and understanding. I am very proud of being a NYC teacher and I am dedicated to teaching to all children. All I want is for the public to see that every teacher in the various institution of education wants what is best for their students. But, the politics that be in NYC is pitting us all against each other.