Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Video: Bronx Satellite Academy Pushes Back Against ROADS Charter Invasion

 Video and text by Angel Gonzalez.


Another Charter School CO-LOCATION looms for the South Bronx and immediately threatens the very existence of our good innovative public high school, Satellite Academy (SA).

As usual, the callous Bloomberg's Department of Education (DOE), without any input of our parents, students, staff and Bronx communities, moves impose the ROADS II Charter School into the Bronx Regional High School Building complex where the three schools already exist (i.e. Bronx Regional, GED Plus, and Satellite Academy).

Without community input, the DOE arrogantly claims that ROADS II Charter School will have no educational impact. This is an insult our community's intelligence! The placement of hundreds more high needs students will have negative consequences on all the schools housed in the Bronx Regional High School complex. This is simple math.

All three high schools already serve a high needs Latino & Black student population from our least mobilized neighborhoods. All students in the Bronx Regional Building are transfer students -- over-age, under-credited and many formerly drop-outs. ROADS II aims to serve the same population that SA already serves while at the same time would take away 47% of SA's classroom space!

There is no need for the offerings of the ROADS II charter school. Satellite Academy already exists with a proven track record and offers a far more superior program with an experienced staff that has successfully served transfer students. SA implements a reputable collaborative project/ portfolio learning process that engages students, and has a State-approved Waiver to support its non-Regents-tests-based approach.

ROADS II CHARTER, with the private backing of an outside Wall St. profit driven firm, Centerbridge Partners, comes from outside the Bronx community and promises an questionable computer-based method (promising 15 students per class, ROADS II will instead host 25 students per class where teachers work with small groups while the rest will be placated on computers) and teach-to-test curriculum with a focus on Regents exams. ROADS thus will provide more of the same old methods that contributed to the alienation and pushing out of "transfer" students in the first place. Test-driven teaching negatively impacts on learning.

By adding more students into the Bronx Regional building and segregating these needier students into ROADS II, what results is overcrowding and heightened tensions between four, instead of three schools that all already service very high need students. Instead of using available spaces to promote smaller class sizes, this crowding can result in a negative climate that will beg for demeaning metal detectors, surveillance cameras and the police interventions. The co-location of the ROADS II Charter School is an invitation for unwarranted competition, disharmony and disruption.

The Bronx Regional campus is extra-ordinary in that it is one of the few Bronx high school buildings that to date has no such prison-like scanning, stop & frisk protocols. Instead has a generally more student friendly and welcoming atmosphere. In fact, it holds no scanning as a building-wide policy!

SA classrooms are welcoming with rich learning and decorated environments (a family school atmosphere rarely seen at the high school level). Make an unannounced visit to SA and a respectful low-volume demeanor of the staff will blow you away. The ROADS II co-location would force the doubling-up of teachers and the dismantling of such a wonderful model school that all students deserve.

If more students must be placed here, the public believes that Satellite Academy should be expanded and this fourth unnecessary competing school, the private ROADS II CHARTER, should not be accepted. Its impact can only be negative for all programs at the site.

The ROADS II CHARTER, as many charters do in the interests of savings and profits, will introduce instability in its staffing by:

• Hiring younger lower paid inexperienced teachers and staff who will be compensated with less overall benefits (e.g. medical, pension, vacation, tenure).
• Denying labor rights. Charters are generally union-busters and provide either no contracts or few rights and regulations to protect their school workers.
• Demanding longer workdays and longer school years.
Evidence has shown that a staff that is lower-paid and overworked has resulted in charters having a high rate of attrition. A high rate of turnaround for faculty and staff is obviously not in the best interests of our students, schools or communities.

Eva's husband Eric Grannis invades Williamsburg with new charter chain.
Read the community response:

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