Thursday, October 1, 2009

Does Girls prep function as a public school?

They keep repeating the mantra they are a public school at Gotham Schools. That's like Blackwater claiming to be a public agency because they get funneled billions of public dollars.

Are board meetings open to the public? Are all their stats listed in a way accessible to the public? Attendance figure, free lunches, ELL and special ed student numbers? Accountability to the public in all the ways public schools are?

Hasn't Girls Prep kept changing its charter? First a middle school. Then no middle school and an agreement to limit themselves to one class on the grade when they got space at 188. Now changing its charter back to wanting a middle school. Call it bait and switch. Public schools don't have these options but must jump through hoops at a DOE that clearly tilts towards charters.

Girls Prep agreed not to recruit when they pried their way into 188. They weren't there for more than 10 minutes before slick lit went out to hundreds of kids in the neighborhood based on data passed on to them from the ATS system through a third party by the DOE. Funny thing was how many boys got invited to sign up at Girls Prep. I know not a few who were ready.


KitchenSink said...

To answer your questions, Norm, yes, Girls Prep is a public school, as are all NYS charter schools.

All of the actions you cite in your post are clearly the actions of a public school. Charters must seek authorization through the state education department or SUNY, under the New York Charter Schools Act of 1998 (that would be, of course, state public education law), to modify enrollment patterns or plans. Certainly this school followed the correct protocol, because you can be sure there would be a detractor jumping on the chance to point out a misstep. This process has probably already been FOILed, is my guess.

Slick lit is available, at a cost just like to charter schools, to any other public school. Charters may choose to use privately raised funds in a variety of ways. And yes, district public schools also raise funds and use them for a variety of purposes. You can ask Caroline Kennedy about that one.

As for their attendance, free lunch, special ed and ELL numbers, these are all available on the NYS report card, as they are for every other NYS public schools. Just get onto NYSED or even the NYCDOE site (every charter school has a DOE number...I belive Girls Prep is M330, if you really are interested) for a link to that report card and the information you request.

Finally, their board meetings are open to the public. All charter school board meetings fall under NYS Open Meetings Law. I wonder if you would have the nerve to go to a Girls Prep board meeting and stare in the faces of what is probably a diverse cross-section of successful professionals and striving at-risk families attending these meetings and ask them the same offensive and uninformed questions you are asking in your post.

This school, like so many other charters, is doing wonderful things with kids who would possibly otherwise be under-served by the system. What is your beef?

Ken said...

Hey Norm,

I am a supporter of Girls Prep. It's a really great school.

Check out:

This page on the SUNY website (their authorizer) gives a huge amount of information about the school. Have you reviewed it?