Friday, January 12, 2018

School Scope: Charter School Follies, Closing Schools, Mayoral Control Shams

Jan. 12, 2018 edition of The WAVE,

School Scope:  Charter School Follies, Closing Schools, Mayoral Control Shams
By Norm Scott

I’m running past deadline not because I can’t think of anything to write but because I have so many options as education related stories keep breaking. So let me point readers (all three of you) in some interesting directions.

I am tracking the upcoming saga of the two schools being closed in Rockaway. I hope you noticed the horror stories on MS 80 in the Bronx, which is being kept open with an infusion of more money as reported on WCBS and in the NY Post: ‘Struggling’ Bronx school is a hellhole, teachers say ( --- Imagine Farina and De Blasio are keeping this place open – hey, there is an abusive principal there so why not – while closing other schools. Tell me politics is not involved.

As you may have realized, I often focus on the excesses of charters, especially Eva Moskowitz’ Success Academy chain of 46 schools (and growing). Since there is a school in Rockaway it is worth keeping people updated on the chain. We have pointed out the enormous attrition rates of students (and teachers) as Success schools. Blogger, Stuyvesant high school math teacher Gary Rubinstein, did an interesting piece, The Hidden Attrition Of Success Academy - -  While Success claims a 10% attrition rate a year, Gary, using data from the DOE, found it to be 17%. And since Success doesn’t backfill by adding students, kids from the initial cohort keep disappearing and by the time they graduate, there are not all that many left. We’ve reported here that there were only 17 students left to graduate high school out of an initial cohort of 73 kindergarten students. Where did the 56 disappeared end up? Probably many in public schools.

Another respected teacher blogger, Mark Weber, a music teacher in New Jersey, blogged about the misleading graduation rates at Democracy Prep charter, which has four schools in NYC, on his Jersey Jazzman blog. A misleading Daily News op ed bought the misleading data which claimed “No charter network has demonstrated more success getting its students into and through college…. last year 189 of the 195 seniors in its three high schools that had graduating classes went on to college.” Remarkable, isn’t it. A miracle you might say. But there are no miracles. Mark looked at the attrition rates for kids from their freshman to their senior years and found that Democracy Prep had shed enough students to bring their numbers in line or below many public schools. Mark also castigates main stream journalists for ignoring the attrition issue. Read him in full at

Must Listen for Every Inner City Teacher: The Burdens Affecting Even Our Brightest Students - This American Life
Every teacher in inner city schools has had some kids over the years who seemed very special -- super smart with enormous potential. Find out what happens to three of these students. It is like a rocket trying to escape the earth but getting pulled back by the gravity of poverty and low self-esteem. Even when they beat the odds and make it to college, their battles often just begin. I had some like this and I was in touch for a number of years, even attending some of their weddings.

This American Life on NPR had a must listen to program for not only every teacher but for everyone. The gist was that students from a poor Bronx public school, all kids of color, were paired with Fieldston, an elite private school in the Bronx. The program focuses on some of the culture shock for the poor students based on the conditions they saw in their school and what they saw at Fieldston, just 3 miles away. The reporter, Chana Joffe-Walt, did an amazing job, interviewing teachers from both schools and trying to track one of the students 10 years after they left school.

See what the impact of poverty and low self-esteem have on even the sharpest kids --- but beyond that, this production, as so many of TAL programs are -- is presented like a mystery and will have you handing on the edge of your seat. [Note- one of the principals in the program has set up a college go-fund-me campaign as per this note from the show's producers

Well, I’m out of space but here is some homework for you.

How Bill de Blasio Can Redeem His Education Record by Leonie Haimson and Shino Tanikawa -

Here’s a model for major school reform that looks vastly different from Betsy DeVos’s vision. Valerie Strauss in WAPO reports on the work of reform educators Deborah Meier and Emily Gasoi.

We have opposed mayoral control of the schools since Bloomberg took over in 2002. We feel no better about de Blasio. The elected parent council in District 3 (upper west side) wrote an op ed in the Gotham Gazette, Our School Governance Isn’t Working, and It’s the Perfect Time for Change,

What is working is that Norm keeps slogging and blogging away at

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