As a veteran teacher in a traditional public school that has been both A rated by the NYCDOE and received a "Well Developed" designation by the NYCDOE Quality Review, I am urging you to NOT vote to lift the charter cap without increasing the accountability measures on charter school operators.
There are MANY examples of charter school non-accountability and fraud in the news - including the recent NY Times article on Imagine Schools (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/24/education/24imagine.html), the city controller's report in Philadelphia that found financial mismanagement, fraud and criminal activity in 13 charter schools including one running a nightclub in the school on weekends (http://www.philly.com/philly/news/local/91791679.html), and in the Daily News where reporters found many NYC charter operators engaging in nepotism and conflicts of interest (http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/education/2010/04/22/2010-04-22_charters_family_plans_nepotism_conflict_of_interest_find_a_home_at_privately_run.html?page=1).
Charter schools MUST face the same financial accountability and scrutiny that traditional public schools have. Yet for some reason, Peter Murphy and other charter advocates say that charter schools are already "the most accountable entities in the Western Hemisphere" (http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/education/2010/04/22/2010-04-22_charter_school_champions_critics_clash_at_volatile_public_hearing_on_oversight_m.html)and should be exempt from an outside auditor of their finances and academic records.
The evidence is quite clear that raising the charter cap with the current bill will lead to more fraud, more non-accountability, and more nepotism. In addition, charters will continue to refuse to educate ALL students and take only students who score well on tests and behave well in school while traditional public schools educate ALL students regardless of academic skill level, ability, or behavioral issue.
For too long, now charter schools have enjoyed cache from the politicians and press, favoritism from education officials like Joel Klein and Arne Duncan, and millions of dollars from the hedge fund industry and Wall Street. But they have NOT played fairly by refusing to educate all students or by opening their books to outside scrutiny. In this ear when politicians of both parties say public schools and public school teachers MUST be held accountable, I say that charter school operators and their schools MUST be held accountable too.
The New York State Senate will be making a mistake by voting to raise the charter cap without additional accountability safeguards on charter operators and their schools. In addition, charter operators MUST educate ALL students and provide detailed records and statistics of those who are discharged and the reasons why they were dumped from their schools.
As a teacher at Fashion Industries High School in Chelsea, I will make certain that my colleagues know EXACTLY how their state senators voted on this bill. In a year when there is a lot of anger toward incumbents, you can be sure teachers at traditional public school will be mobilizing to hold politicians who harm the interests of traditional public schools accountable.
Teacher of English
Thank you for your service to our children and I appreciate you bringing these topics out for discussion. I agree that accountability and transparency are key to the success of charter schools, and I believe that every Imagine School has an external financial audit conducted and submitted to their local authorities.ReplyDelete
Please note the difference between Imagine Schools and the other two examples you give above. Imagine has 70+ schools, the majority of which are doing well academically and economically. Yes there are a few that have some struggles, but to paint the entire company in a bad light because a few schools pay a higher rent than others is hardly fair. (Would we shut down an entire school district with a largely positive academic record because a couple of the schools are struggling?) Imagine Schools still operate with less funding than their non-charter equivalents and have good overall academic results, as evidenced by the fact that their parents choose to keep them enrolled there rather than pull them out and send them somewhere else. Our hope should be that those struggling schools are learning from their mistakes and striving to improve and be more like their Imagine sister-schools.
Also, here are some responses for you to consider:
Ah, a concern troll form Imagine Schools. Clearly the Imagine Schools story did serious damage to the Imagine Schools people and now they are doing daily google searches to see who is writing about them in order to push back.ReplyDelete
Sorry, concern troll, your company is crooked.
Great letter. Every UFT member should use it as a template when writing to their senator.ReplyDelete
Just sharing another side of the story. I'm a little surprised to see a teacher engage in name-calling when a differing opinion is politely shared. I don't mean to offend, just to engage in a little polite discourse.ReplyDelete
I just don't see how you deem Imagine to be crooked. ONE school was cited by having a higher than average rent, so it would appear that they purchased a building that was a little too pricey for that location. What is crooked about that? Is that the best accusation that can be brought up to call them crooked?
The insinuation appears be that the Bakke’s are crooked. But let's think about that...the Bakke's are obviously extremely wealthy. They have put $155 MILLION dollars of their own money into Imagine Schools, which they are trying to recognize as a non-profit entity. That means they are effectively giving a $155 million dollar charitable DONATION so families can educate their children. How exactly are they crooked? There is no tax-break that gives you a net financial gain after giving away $155 million dollars.
Are we upset that they get paid a salary for their full-time jobs with the organization? Salaries that are on par with those of their counterparts are similarly-sized organizations? Don't we all deserve to be paid for the jobs we work every day? Even if you think they are slightly overpaid, refer to the paragraph above about giving away $155 MILLION DOLLARS. If they really are in it for the money, then they are bad business people (who were extremely lucky to build a fortune in their previous energy company). ;-)