Monday, January 18, 2010

Who owns the media, even the “public” media? A Teacher in Bed-Stuy Posts to Beth Fertig's Blog

A teacher posted this today on Beth Fertig's News Blog on WNYC's website:

When will the press expose the “distraction”, to use Obama’s term, that charter schools provide for a system that is truly unwilling to reform itself? I am a teacher with 30 years in the DOE. My elementary school in Bedford-Stuyvesant experienced reform in the early 1990s, sponsored by the Office of School Reform and the UFT. It worked and transformed us in meaningful ways.

Twenty years later we are reaping the benefits of that initiative and are expanding our enrollment while all neighboring schools are losing theirs and subsequently having to share their building with a second or third school, sometimes a charter school. We benefited from funding opportunities then that no longer exist for us now, because funders are putting their money into charter schools.

We have devastating midyear budget cuts that they don’t have. Who will expose the fact that while they may have a lottery for their students, ultimately they get to pick and choose them and their parents? They cap their numbers by the late October head count and begin to weed out the troublesome and academically low-performing students from then on in time for the state exams.

Of course, they are going to look like they are doing a great job. We have to take those students back and work with the students they don’t want. In the end this exclusive private system within the public system is being supported by cuts to our budgets. The majority of public school children, who will never attend a charted school, will lose out in overcrowded classrooms in schools that have had to drop arts-in-education partnerships and after school programs, the services that made us great and helped to bolster their achievement and love of learning.

Who in the media is going to question a system that won’t spread reform to every school in order to benefit every child? Who wants to understands what is really happening in our midst, in the name of “school reform”? There is a travesty going on and they get away with it, because no one will report it.

Begs the question: Who owns the media, even the “public” media?


Anonymous said...

Thank you to this teacher for exposing the truth behind some of the vaunted charter school success, and to Lisa North for posting it.

Who will expose the fact that while they may have a lottery for their students, ultimately they get to pick and choose them and their parents? They cap their numbers by the late October head count and begin to weed out the troublesome and academically low-performing students from then on in time for the state exams. Of course, they are going to look like they are doing a great job.

One concrete example of the uneven measure of "success" the author points to above has recently arisen in District One.

The DoE's so called "Educational Impact Statement" (which does not address education or even impact) says that our expanding charter school Girls Prep is successful because 100% of their students have scored 3s and 4s on the NYS math exams and more than 95% on the ELA exams.
The school they share space with now has much lower scores- in the low 60's for ELA and high 70's for math.
However, what the DoE does NOT report is that the charter school scores are for a total 69 students in 3rd and 4th grades.
All girls. No ELL and no special ed students. Some students in the school receive SETTS (8% they report) but we do not know if they are in the group; a few students in the school are from nearby temporary shelters but again are they included in the 69 tested students?

The "host" school scores reflect more than 260 students tested, in grades 3-8th, and includes an average of 20% students in temporary housing, more than 17% ELL and 21% special ed, plus another 8% student receiving SETTS.

Ironically it is the "success" of the 69 students that has convinced DoE to make the space for the expanded charter middle school.

How can a such a small sample of unrepresentative students in 3rd and 4th grade justify the DoE's belief in the charter school's future success?
Why would that "belief" lead to capping capacity at an A school and shrinking a D75 program and overcrowding already overscheduled common spaces in order to make room for the charter to expand?

Can anyone explain this?

Anonymous said...

we sure have seen this "divide and conquer"/ "disenfranchise the neediest students" tactic plenty of late.

I am concerned also by the vagueness of demonstrating that the space sharing arrangements (that seem to be up for negotiation from year to year ANYWAY) are acceptable.

In District One , for example Girls Prep Charter School held the mandate renewal hearing ( virtually no one attended but another CEC One member and myself) a year and a half ago to allow for comment on a charter renewal proposal that documented the GPCS's move from PS 15 (Manhattan) to nearby PS 188.
At the time of the renewal hearing, the charter school was defined as a K- 5th grade school, with only two sections, or classes, on a grade level.

The shared footprint was negotiated by the school leaders and agreed upon by all.
A year later, GPCS decided to admit two extra classes of 5th grade girls and went back to the other school to ask for two more classrooms, trying to break the shared space agreement and their own charter.

No space was found and the extra classes were not admitted.

This year, GPCS has announced that it had planned all along to expand to a middle school and wants to add a class per grade level in the middle school grades.

To get the 12 extra classrooms GPCS needs, DoE will be phasing out by slow attrition (from 9 down to five classrooms over 3 years) a D75 program for autistic children ( even though local rate of diagnosis are high and the national rates have doubled since 2007) and capping the capacity of the neighborhood PS 188 (Pre-K through 8th grade).

Already common spaces like the cafeteria and the gym are overloaded: lunch is currently served form 10:30 - 2 pm, and students get gym once a week.
Adding 275 additional adolescent girls will only exacerbate these issues.

Yet because a bureaucrat at SUNY Charter Institute will approve the "successful model" of an expanded middle school for Girls Prep, DoE will "find" the needed additional space to accommodate it, and other students will get the squeeze.

Anonymous said...

yes indeed-
really an object lesson on the rigged game our community schools are playing- on an uneven playing field- in their "competition" with the charters.

How can we find out to what extent charters either release or fail to accept students after the DoE's 10/31 annual enrollment audit?

Student funding is determined on that date- any new students enrolled after 10/31 bring NO FUNDING with them, and any students that leave after 10/31 LEAVE THE FUNDING in the school they left.

I have a good hunch that charter schools generally do not take in students after 11/1, since they bring no money with them, while our real public schools generally have no choice but to enroll all comers.

Rates of occupancy in temporary housing shoot up in the cold months, and those students often find their way to nearby public schools.

In my community the rates of students in temporary housing rise in neighborhood schools after 11/1.
Schools are then serving high percentages of the neediest kids WITH NO ADDITIONAL RESOURCES.

How can we track and measure this to see if it is a trend citywide?

NY_I said...

When will they give Leonie Haimson et al's "NYC Schools Under Bloomberg / Klein" the thorough review that it deserves?

Responsible reportage requires following up on allegations and listening to dissident voices, not just official voices in press releases. OK, so the News and the Post are on various "boards" with Bloomberg. So, why is WNYC keeping an arms length from the reality behind NYC education?

ed notes online said...

Check who gives money to support these public stations. Gates and Broad and all kinds of ed deformers. John Merrow on Wnet and Charlie Rose with suck-up reports on Arne Duncan. Note how they ignore the failure of the 16 years of mayoral control in CHicago - though that Tribune story I linked to begins to go there.

WE have to create our own media.

The Perimeter Primate said...

Yes, you can count much of the public media out.

Last year, the Broad Foundation funded Charlie Rose's "series of conversations about the crisis in public education." So WNET broadcast hour-long interviews with Duncan, Kopp, and Rhee.

Anonymous said...

I and others have contacted the media about various issues from coruption in schools, the ATR issue, rubber room etc. No response. I have protested in fron of City Hall with Charles Barron and no media present. I am seeing and living the Girl's Prep experience first hand. There is no way that Girl's Prep can expand and not affect PS 188. I see lower paid employees lose their overtime and those connected to power take money which should be allotted to the clasroom. If there is excessing in PS 188 next year because of all this, who will tell the truth. The question still remains - who controls the media?

Anonymous said...