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Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Why SUNY should not allow Success Charters to expand.

On Wed., October 8, 2014, the SUNY charter committee is due to vote on authorizing a gazillion new Success charters for nearly every area of the city -- though without telling us exactly where they will go, and how much space they will take from our public school students.  Where: 116 E. 55 St., Boardroom;  Time: 9:30 AM.

Eva Moskowitz is determined to occupy as much real estate as possible as quickly as possible at city expense,  and is preparing with a massive rally this Thursday where she will gather the troops, closing her schools for the occasion, and ordering every parent, teacher and student at her command to show up.

In addition, her hedge fund supporters have given $1.75 million in the past week alone to GOP State Senators, determined to fix the election in her favor. .Of that,  $350,000, came from Paul Tudor Jones II,  of the Robin Hood Foundation and Tudor Investment Corp., a hedge fund in Connecticut. Here is a picture of him with his wife at his 60th birthday, where John Fogerty of Creedence Clearwater and Jon Bon Jovi sang.

Not to mention millions more they have given to the best friend of the charter schools, Governor Cuomo. Truly, the charter movement is not an educational movement, but a political one, in the worst sense of the word -- and their billionaire backers are intent on using their outsized wealth and power to get their way, whether it is in the best interests of NYC children or not. Check out the column by Prof. Dan Katz on their collective hypocrisy.

On Monday night there were hearings at the District 2 offices on 7th Ave, where many eloquent teachers, parents, community leaders, and Assemblymember Deborah Glick spoke in opposition to this land grab, and several parents from Upper West Success spoke plaintively in support.  The Community Education Council in Districts 2 and 3 are also opposed, as is the Community Board in District 2, whose representative suggested that if SUNY liked Success charters so much they give them space in their own buildings, instead of invading our local public schools.  Interestingly, not a single parent who said they wanted to enroll their own children in any of these schools showed up, and the representatives from her charter network refused to speak, though as usual, they had hired a cameraman to take videos.  I told the videographer that he must have filmed hundreds of hours of hearings of parents protesting  Success charter schools, and he just shrugged.
Norm Scott has posted some videos here of the MORE contingent, and DNA info covered the hearings here, as did the Columbia Spectator.  I  spoke briefly, and today I sent my comments to two out of the three members of the SUNY charter committee  (the only two I could find emails for.) 

Dear Mr. Belluck and Mr. Murad:  
I urge you not to allow Success charters to expand, on the grounds that they do not enroll their fair share of high needs students, receive more per student funding in public funds than public schools, and drain our public schools of the resources and space necessary for a sound basic education.

I will briefly explain these points, but for back-up material or citations for any of these points, you can refer to the attached document, called the Six Myths of Charter school, also  posted here:

1.        Charter schools are NOT public schools. Charter schools are publicly funded but governed by private corporate boards, and do NOT have to follow the same laws or rules that public schools do.  They are able to cap their enrollment and class sizes at any levels they like, they enact extreme disciplinary policies, and often exhibit high suspension rates.   In NYC, they can and do expel students –forbidden by NYC public schools for any student under 17.

2.      Charter schools DO NOT educate the same exact kind of students as public schools.  Charters have fewer special needs students, English language learners, students in poverty. This is especially true of Success Charters. According to the 2010 Amendments to the Charter Schools Act , when charter authorizers  renew or allow charter schools to expand, these schools are obligated to show they are meeting or exceeding enrollment and retention targets of students with disabilities, English language learners and free and/or reduced price lunch, yet despite this, Success charters has been allowed to rapidly expand without showing this.

3.     NYC charters receive MORE in per student public funding than district schools.  As the NYC Independent Budget Office has pointed out, the two thirds of NYC charters that are co-located receive MORE per pupil public funding than public schools when their free space and services is taken into account.  The large disparity in public support will grow even greater with the boost in charter funding  in the new state budget, and the guarantee of free space for all new and expanding NYC charters moving forward, .

4.   Charter schools DO NOT get higher test scores because of some secret formula. 
The test scores of charter chains like Success is likely not due to superior teaching or curriculum, but to increased funding, and their much higher suspension and attrition rates. Of course, the more a school pushes out struggling students, the higher their test scores will likely be. According to the latest available figures, Success Academy charters lose half of their students by 6th grade.  Suspensions are especially high among special education students.

5. Charter schools DO NOT have huge waiting lists. According to DOE figures, there are many public schools whose acceptance rates are the same or smaller than charters.

6.    The new state law which guarantees free space paid for by city for all new charters going forward will further drain the city’s schools of resources they cannot afford.  The new law actually provides unprecedented privileges to charters, as there are overcrowded communities in NYC that have waited twenty years for a new school to be built in their neighborhoods, but now any charter that wants to open up shop in a district will now be guaranteed space free of charge.  Already NYC is spending over $1 billion per year on charters, while our public school budgets have been cut 14% in recent years.

While hundreds of thousands of NYC public school children continue to sit in overcrowded classrooms, in trailers, and on Kindergarten waiting lists, and wait for smaller classes, which is the state’s highest court said was their constitutional right, the charter schools will get a free ride at the city’s expense.  This will further exacerbate a dual system of separate and unequal schools and is fundamentally unfair.:


Anonymous said...

Minority parents have been convinced of the superiority of charter schools. It shows the utter hypocrisy of Obama and the rampaging oligarchic control of our city and country by ignorant grandiose millionaires and billionaires who have endowed themselves with knowledge they don't have and a destructive narcissistic arrogance and political agenda

Anonymous said...

The 24 billion dollar DOE budget is a cash cow for the benefit of private interests not children in a segregated public school system