Wednesday, June 4, 2008

How Regressive Ed Reform Robs Neighborhood Schools of Their Base


Education Notes has maintained that the small schools movement and alternative parental choice undermines neighborhood schools by robbing them of their base of students who are succeeding.

To the regressive education reformers, the BloomKlein "reforms" are a wonderful thing. But on the ground in the schools, there is a different view. PS 3, in the heart of Bedford-Stuyvesant, has been viewed as a fairly successful school, with a somewhat middle class base that brings stability.

At a Manhattan Institute breakfast a few months ago starring Joel Klein, Michelle Rhee and others, one of the themes was the "success" of the implementation of charter and small schools.
When some of us talked about the creaming of the top students by these schools, I remember panelist Joe Williams claiming that if kids are successful (those who score 3's and 4's on the tests) in a neighborhood school, why would they move to a charter?

I went up to him afterwards and told him that the kids who are succeeding are the ones that move because their parents are more proactive and are looking for a school without kids who score ones and twos on the tests, special ed, ELA's, discipline problems, high class sizes (even if the actual number looks small on paper the level of difficulty of working with an at-risk population is impacted). In other words, they themselves want to get their kids away from the most at-risk kids, the local form of what used to be called "white flight."

Thus, the neighborhood public schools - from elementary through high school – become drained of the very kids that provide the school a somewhat stable environment by shunting the top students to places like KIPP. And by the way, do not underestimate the positive impact these kids have on teacher morale, which is affected by seeing kids succeed.

If one wanted to design the perfect program to accomplish the destruction of the neighborhood school by shunting higher performing students into a semi-privatized environment BloomKlein and their high-priced consultants have designed such a program.

The latest attacks on elementary schools go after the youngest kids by the modifications in the gifted and talented programs and in the registration process for pre-kindergarten. (We always found that the students whose parents rush to register, turn out to have the highest level of success over the following years.) By moving this registration from the school to some central office one more obstacle is added to the process.

Chapter Leader Lisa North expresses the frustration being felt in the schools as she nails all of these issues in this email to the NYCEducationNews listserve:

My school, PS 3 in Brooklyn, has had 3 pre-k classes for the last 2 years. Parents would come to the school to register. Now they have to go downtown Brooklyn first. Our parents DO NOT do that! At this time we only have enough students for ONE class. Why can't parents register directly in the school?

We are also in danger of losing our "gifted and talented" program – one of the few in Bedford-Stuyvesant, because of the new DOE testing.

On top of that, the charter schools are beginning to take a number of our level 3/4 students (as well as some of the others), but especially students whose families are more involved with their education. The DOE is wreaking havoc with our school!


  1. And the New York Times and other media will do nothing to help you expose this? If they know this is happening and neglect to report it, I'd say they are complicit in it.

    I wonder if Diane Ravitch would/could help more? She has changed her tune a bit in recent years. Would appealing to her to help you get the word out help?

    I read your blog daily, keep up the good work! Actually it's one of my favorite though I am a teacher in New Mexico.

  2. norm:

    The truth hurts and your post exposes the truth about how the small and Charter schools have destroyed the neighborhood schools.

    Where's Randi to expose this attack on our schools. Oh I forgot she is pathetic (see my blog). I do think Diane Ravitch and Andrew Woif could be helpful here.

    By the way ICE and TJC need to bring this up in their blogs as well.

  3. Right. High performing charters took over great neighborhood schools and made them bad. Before that, the district schools were knocking it out of the park. This is the most absurd comment yet.

  4. Neighborhood schools are an abomination. I know because I work in one, and I've been there for ten years, or maybe 20. I can't wait till he ends tenure so that my principal who I hate can fire me for no reason.

  5. Neighborhood schools, shneighorhood schools. I've been teaching in an elementary, middle and high school simultaneously since I was 9 years old. I'm the best teacher I have ever seen and can't but my school just can't seem to knock it out of the park. It must be that idiot teacher next door who reads the paper all day with his feet up on the desk. I try to rat him out to the administration but he is even a bigger company spy on the union than I am, though I aspire to reach his vaunted status.

    I am actively seeking a high performing charter school to come in and share my school building so I can teach in a closet.

  6. Hey Tauna, thanks for stopping by. I checked out your blog and will add it to the blogroll. As a founding member of the Educator Roundtable, you do a valuable service. And the humor is great.

  7. So, forget the aspirations of the intelligent and hard-working kids who want to learn - they must be sacrificed on the altar of equality.

    How dare these parents not want their students to sit in class all day twiddling their thumbs as the teacher deals with endless discipline issues which shut down the classroom.

    Here's a novel idea: How about we start treating public education as the taxpayer-provided privilege that it is, instead of an entitlement, and remove these disruptive students who cause parents of performing students to pull out their kids in the first place?

    As my father - who graduated from high school in 1959 - always says, what would get him expelled back then might get you detention today.

  8. You miss the point. They are succeeding in the public schools too. They're the ones who make it.

    I graduated from HS in 1962 in the East NY section of Brooklyn and you think my schools were picnics. But we made it. These kids will too.

    What you are callign for is a dual system. Let the privately influenced charters get the successful kids and leave the public schools with the rest and then claim they are failing and only vouchers will save them.

    Nice shell game in privatizing the entire system and letting the corporate world reap profits on the backs of all kids.


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