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!