If you're in the market for a charter school for your child up in Rochester, the application link for Greater Works is here, along with the rundown for what the school will provide:
Greater Works Charter School is currently accepting applications for 9th grade students for the 2015-16 school year. The deadline for the receipt of student applications is April 1, 2015. Parents/families are encouraged to apply as soon as possible!
The mission of Greater Works Charter School is to prepare students to be self-sufficient citizens. GWCS will accomplish this mission by providing a high-quality education in a safe and supportive environment that provides students with the academic and technical skills necessary to earn a NYS Regents diploma and to succeed in college and today's workforce.
*At this time, a location for the school has not been announced.* We are working to finalize the selection of a building as soon as possible.
If you have any questions, please contact the school by phone at (585) 568-7833 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
Now I don't know about you, but I have plenty of questions about the school, starting with how it is no one at the Regents or SED looked into the 22-year old "Dr" Ted and his credentials or the other board members he found on the Internet.
Next question I have is, why is this school STILL being opened after Morris was exposed as a fraud?
Justin Murphy at the Democrat and Chronicle reports no one in leadership is taking responsibility for giving a charter school to a con artist like "Dr" Ted.
Regents Chancellor Tisch deflected blame onto the local Regents and NYSED, NYSED couldn't be reached for comment because of a couple of inches of snow in Albany on Wednesday and the local Regents who gave the okay to Morris and his charter said "It's not our fault because Dr. Ted lied to us."
Ah, yes - accountability is for the little people.
In addition, NYSED said the charter school is going to open despite the Morris fiasco.
Another member of the board of trustees - which Morris reportedly found on Craigslist and LinkedIn - is going to take over as lead applicant for the charter school:
Peter Kozik, a Keuka College professor and fellow trustee will take over as lead applicant.
Kozik was circumspect about the situation and declined to say whether the revelations were new to the trustees but said they "took it under advisement" when they heard about them Tuesday.
The trustees still plan to open the school in fall 2015 as scheduled. Kozik said he discussed the issue with the state education department Tuesday and came away with the impression that the plan can go forward.
"The plan's outstanding; the board's outstanding," he said. ""Life can be difficult for sure. This is not the first parting I had. ... We need to move ahead and help educate the children of Rochester."
The board's outstanding?
These are the people Morris found on the Internet, so I'm sure they've all been held to the same rigorous examination of their credentials and appropriateness for the board as Morris was, which is to say no one's looked into them at all.
But even if all these people are on the up-and-up, what does it say about them that they all thought Morris was a swell guy to be the lead applicant for the charter?
These people either suspected (or knew) Morris was a huckster and didn't care enough to do anything about it or didn't know he was a fraud and huckster, in which case they don't have the judgment to be on the board of a school.
Either way, the board of trustees, including new lead applicant Kozik, are suspect at best.
As for the "outstanding plan" Kozik says is in place, it's full of the usual ed deform claptrap - extended time, emphasis on technology, endless professional development for teachers and other tenets of the 21st Century Ed Deform Movement.
Here is how the plan is described on the Greater Works Charter School website:
A Focus on Self-Sufficiency – Preparing students to be self-sufficient citizens is at the core of GWCS’s mission. The founding group defines a self-sufficient citizen as an individual being college and career ready and needing no outside help in satisfying basic needs. It is our intent to create a safe and supportive atmosphere where students can earn a NYS Regents diploma, prepare for and succeed in college and today’s workforce, and thereby achieve self-sufficiency. Citizens that are self-sufficient are crucial to a thriving community. Being able to take care for one’s basic needs decreases unemployment rates, need for public assistance, and contributes to economic development. We believe that self-sufficiency also encompasses college and career readiness.
Advisory - Each student will be assigned a teacher advisor who will work with them throughout their high school journey at GWCS. The teacher advisors will meet with their assigned students daily (Monday through Friday.) During the daily advisory period, students will work with their advisor to create goals, and review goals and progress made toward achieving those goals. Teacher advisors will be able to use the daily advisory period to offer motivation, feedback, and guidance to students.
Individual Learning Plans (ILPs) – Teacher advisors will work with each student to create an individual learning plan to guide instruction. This will allow teaching staff to build lessons that explore and strengthen each student’s skills, interests, and dreams. When students attend the summer bridge program (starting in Year 2, orientation will take place in Year 1 instead), they will take assessments and work with an advisor to create the ILP based on the number of credits needed for graduation, reading and math grade-level scores, and social/emotional needs. The ILPs will be living documents that students and teacher advisors refer to-, and update on a regular basis.
Longer Instructional Time – GWCS will provide a longer school day (9:00am to 5:00pm) and school year (193 days, not including the summer bridge program for 9th and 10th grades which will be an additional 19 days) than traditional schools.
Blended Learning – GWCS realizes that technology has the power to move education toward a student-centered model of learning where students can learn at their own pace to boost learning outcomes. A learning environment enhanced with technology allows for seamless targeted interventions and flexible groups, as well as real collaboration among students. Students at GWCS will take courses that are infused with technology and that are co-taught by our NYS certified and experienced teachers. Using the Odyssey Ware curriculum, which features an engaging, media-rich curriculum that sparks student interest with 3-D animation, video clips, audio files, and educational games; teachers will be able to provide a high-quality learning experience to students. As cited in the U.S. Department of Education’s recent “Evaluation of Evidence-Based Practices in Online Learning: A Meta-Analysis and Review of Online Learning Studies” (Revised September 2010), “Students in online conditions performed modestly better, on average, than those learning the same material through traditional face-to-face instruction” (p. xiv) and, notably, “Instruction combining online and face-to-face elements had a larger advantage relative to purely face-to-face instruction than did purely online instruction” (p. xv). GWCS will incorporate blended learning as per the Commissioner’s policy on blended learning.
Co-Teaching - Courses at GWCS will be co-taught by a content area teacher alongside a special education teacher or teaching assistant. Having two high-quality educators facilitate classroom instruction will allow them to connect with different student personalities. Co-teaching allows more opportunities for small group and one-to-one learning, and stronger modeling during lessons. The co-planning process encourages two teachers to bounce ideas off each other in order to deliver the strongest, most creative lessons. Co-taught courses are structured to meet the needs of all students and will allow an opportunity for reinforcing key points of a discussion through repetition or restatement. By employing this approach, students are able to benefit from the knowledge and skills of each professional as they master the key concepts (Robinson & Schaille 1995; Bess 2000).
Teaching Assistants (TAs) – GWCS will hire teaching assistants from local graduate colleges of education (such as Roberts Wesleyan College, University of Rochester, SUNY Brockport, Keuka College, St. John Fisher College, and Nazareth College, etc.) Teaching assistants will work with teachers to provide students with an engaging and supportive learning environment. Teaching assistants will support teachers in the Guided Learning Process and provide academic support to students as they progress through their coursework. Uncommon in high schools, teaching assistants at GWCS will provide students with additional academic support. TAs will provide instructional, behavioral, and organizational benefits to the GWCS model.
Professional Learning Community (PLC) - GWCS will provide a professional learning community that supports GWCS’s instructional staff. In the first year, teachers will meet on a regular basis (8 a.m. – 9 a.m. daily on Monday-Friday and in the summer for two weeks) to receive teacher mentoring, professional development, and peer coaching. Teachers will also be able to use this time to create lesson plans with the support of other teachers, the Principal, and the Director of Curriculum and Instruction. A regular focus during these meeting times will be on the local and formative assessment of students as GWCS year progresses. GWCS will have strong instructional leadership which, though challenging, will advance teaching and learning for students and teachers alike. There will be weekly and quarterly professional development and yearly professional development (two weeks in August 2015 and for one week in July every year thereafter.)
All that sounds swell, except that the school has raised little money of its own, so all of that is going to have to come off the public's dime - the building for the school (which they don't have yet), the staff willing to work the extended time and days and suffer the endless professional development, the TA's they say they want to hire from local colleges, the technology and the blended learning programs.
And of course it matters just who you hire to implement this stuff, which brings us back to the problem of the board and their judgment (or lack thereof) over Morris.
Who do they hire as school leader to get this thing going, particularly after the school has become tabloid fodder and will be Exhibit A in the battle in the spring when the charter school criminals look to have the charter cap eliminated completely?
I dunno about you, but I see nothing "outstanding" in that plan that isn't "outstanding" in a thousand other charter school "About Us" sections.
There's nothing unique about the plan other than it was partly put together by a con man who may be lacking his own high school diploma.
I get that Regents Chancellor Tisch, NYSED Commissioner King and their merry men and women in reform in Albany want to open lots of charters so that they can come up against the charter cap as soon as possible and get it increased or lifted completely.
What I don't get is, why are they so adamant about making sure Greater Works opens as planned?
Given that the lead applicant was a fraud, given that his "outstanding board" was found on Craigslist and LinkedIn, given that the "outstanding plan" is the same ed deform claptrap you see in thousands of other charter school plans, given that the school has raised only $10K and will have to rely completely on the public dime to run, given that the publicity around the school has been embarrassing to say the least and isn't going to get any better as charter opponents use Morris and his Greater Works Charter School fraud as a great reason why SED and the Regents shouldn't be given more charter slots, I'd think Tisch, King and the merry reformsters would just as soon want this story buried as soon as possible.
But it sounds like Greater Works Charter School is going forward and given what a sham it's been so far, it looks like it is going to continue to be the gift that keeps on giving for charter skeptics and opponents.
Remember "Dr" Ted and Greater Works!