Sunday, September 19, 2010

Harlem Village Academy Retained Only 4 Full-Time Teachers While Losing 75%

This piece came in over the transom tonight. While exposing the disregard some charter schools hold for their own teaching staffs, this piece also exposes the shameful NY Post reporting on the phony grad rate. And of course the exposure of the force-outs and other manipulatives.
Last year Mayor Bloomberg visited Harlem Village Academy high school and called it "the poster child for this country.";jsessionid=B6F2EB5549FF300018C58001CDD43800
Here is a selection from the Post piece:
Another student offered a stark comparison between her experience at Harlem Village and her former public school. "The teachers didn't care (in the public school)," she said. Asked by Schools Chancellor Joel Klein how many planned to attend college, every hand shot up. Harlem Village achieved national prominence last year when 100 percent of its eighth-graders passed the state math exam.

Nice to see her teachers cared more than her public school teachers even though most of them left.

Can a school that can't retain 75% of its teaching staff be considered a poster child?

This year Harlem Village Academy opened its doors with only 4 full time teachers returning, a turnover of more than 75%. There are office staff, department heads and and administrators that returned (some of them teach one period) but only four full time teachers returned.  Teachers were told they would be working 9 hour days when they were hired, but the week before school started they were told they would be working 12 hour days. School starts at 7:30 so teachers arrive around 7.  School ends for children at 4:15 and there is a mandatory meeting for teachers from 5-7pm from Monday-Thursday.  Can be called a model that can't retain 75% of its teaching staff. The school sent a letter home addressing parents' concerns over the turnover without saying what caused it or how it will be fixed.

The Post article also references a 100% passing rate on the state math exam in 8th grade.  In order to be promoted in middle school you must have an 80% in each class (I am not sure if this practice is legal.) A number of students that do not have an 80 in each class choose to leave the school rather than be held back or go to summer school. In fact DOE numbers show that they lose 32% of their students between 6th and 8th grades (See the link below.) Under standing their standards for promotion, it is easy to see that the 32% of students that leave are almost all the lowest performing students. If traditional public schools withheld students that got less than an 80 it would be easy to have high passing rates, but we would have to build 30% more schools. Essentially HVA dumps its lowest third of students back into public school system.


  1. Schools like this are doing what they were intended to do: churn staff and students alike.

    The teachers are churned as part of the labor relations policy (aka union busting) that seeks to de-skill and de-professionalize teaching, making it a temporary sojourn for recent college graduates who are entering the labor force at a time when legitimate employment opportunities are collapsing.

    The kids are churned in order to juice the statistics, and further destabilize the public schools that receive those who are "counseled" (aka forced) out.

  2. Debra Kurshan

    Cohort: 2006 New York
    Fellowship Placement: Harlem Village Academies

    Education: MBA, Columbia University, Business School
    Current Position: Senior Director, Portfolio Planning, New York City Department of Education

    As an Education Pioneer, Debra worked at Village Academies Network, a charter school management organization operating two schools in Harlem, New York. At Village Academies she was responsible for the relocation of Harlem Village Academy to a district space. She worked with contractors and vendors to negotiate purchasing and facility upgrades. She was also responsible for implementing the technology plan for the school which involved working with the e-rate program and various other vendors and stakeholders.

    She now works for the NYC Department of Education as Senior Director, Portfolio Planning.

  3. This is a school with teachers turn over rate in the past three years 60%, 53%, and now 75%. This is a school where only 19 out of 66students that started 5th grade graduated. This is a school where 62% of the students have been suspended. This is a school where if a student don't get 80% average, he is ask to repeat the class or attend a summer school, and if the average is less than 75%, the student repeat the class or leave the school. Even regents score has to be no less than 80% or the entire course is repeated. This is a school where students spend 10 hrs a day, and are punished for speaking in the hallways. Upon all these, our leaders are praising this school and even calling it the poster child school. Wake up people!!!

  4. Do they have any special education students? I would have to say probably not. What they are asking the teachers to do is become the students' second parents. The students have the teachers' phone numbers and are allowed to call them even when school is not in session. I think that it would be a good idea to have parent training classes for these students' parents. The acheivement gap is met when there is support at home. I can walk into a classroom and in a couple of minutes, I can pick out the students that have parental support and are involved.

  5. Aargh! Ms Kenny has an op-ed in today's NYT!

    Here's what makes my head explode. Only, I mean only, public schools have a mandate to never give up. Charter schools can churn, and when the going gets tough, pull up stakes and get the hell out. Public school teachers and administration need to be tireless in this message.


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