I travelled to Brownsville along with former charter parent Khem Irby of District 13, Leslie-Ann Byfield, a charter parent and advocate, and another charter parent. We wanted to make the point that despite Duncan's claim that he has encountered "zero" opposition to his policies, there are many parents, including charter parents, who feel quite differently.
As I have recently learned, there are many disaffected charter school parents, including those whose children attend Uncommon Schools , who feel that there needs to be far more accountability and protection of parent and student rights before any expansion of charters should be contemplated.
We managed to enter the school easily, along with the mayor's entourage. After going upstairs and waiting for a few minutes outside the classroom where Duncan was supposed to talk to kids, the DOE in the person of David Cantor spotted us and asked us nicely to leave. Though the charter school parents wanted a dialogue with Duncan, Cantor insisted that no questions or discussion would be allowed, even for reporters; and that this visit was only a photo op. We left and waited outside in the rain, patiently, for another half hour or so, until Duncan, along with Klein, Bloomberg, and other top DOE officials exited the school. For what happened next, see our press release below:
Before raising the cap, charter and district parents demand more transparency, accountability, equity and parent input at charter schools
NEW YORK, NY (May 18, 2010) Today, current and former charter school parents protested the appearance of Secretary Duncan’s visit to Kings Collegiate Charter School in Brooklyn, one of the chain of charter schools run by Uncommon Schools. They called attention to the fact that Duncan’s attempt to pressure the Legislature to raise the cap on charters ignores the many flaws in the current system, including the lack of sufficient financial oversight, excessive discipline at charter schools and the suppression of parent and student rights.
According to Leslie-Ann Byfield, a charter school parent who advocates for parents with children experiencing abusive practices at charter schools, “Increasing the number of charter schools without acknowledging the growing list of complaints and concerns, AND without providing remedies, is irresponsible at least, and even more so when supported by the Secretary of Education. Today, I waited in the rain until I could ask Secretary Duncan when he would talk to charter parents to hear their concerns. He politely responded that he does talk to parents and was willing to meet with us. But when I asked how we could arrange this, I immediately became invisible, as he turned his back, walked away and shut his car door. Now I understand how it is that Secretary Duncan says there is zero opposition to his charter school proposals. Today, Secretary Duncan deemed me a zero.”