2010-02-12 / Letters

Interesting Article, But…

Dear Editor,

Your recent article about the charter school at Arverne By The Sea is very interesting, but unfortunately, it has several factual errors.

You wrote “Some of the charters are non-profit, but many are for-profit businesses run by high-powered companies such as Victory Schools.“

This is incorrect. By New York State law, all charter schools must be operated as public charities, 501c3s, and governed by an independent Board of Trustees. While they are not traditional public schools (such as those operated by the NYCDOE), by law, all charter schools are deemed public schools that operate independently of the local school district. Charter schools require approval, authorization and oversight by the New York State Board of Regents or the State University of New York. Peninsula Prep’s Board is legally bound to make all decisions for the school, including the decision to use a vendor like Victory for certain educational services. We may debate the merit of that arrangement, but by law, the Board is in charge and can fire Victory by ending

Letters their contract. By the way, these forprofit “EMOs” are involved with just a tiny number of NYC charter schools, 9 out of 100, and are not a signifant part of the landscape. Most charters schools are a part of non-profit networks or are independent.

Evidence: NYSED’s website: emsc. nysed.gov.

“Charter schools are publicly funded and open to all students in New York State through a non-discriminatory admissions lottery. Each charter school is governed by a not-for-profit board of trustees which may include educators, community members, and leaders from the private sector. Charters have freedom to establish their own policies, design their own educational program, and manage their human and financial resources. Charter schools are accountable, through the terms of a five-year performance contract, for high student achievement.

You wrote “Stanford University’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes recently put out a report that shows that a large number of charter schools are failing to deliver on their promises.”

Actually, the CREDO study you are referring to was national and excluded NYC charter schools. Indeed, it showed that nationally charters had mixed results and were not generally superior. However, when CREDO recently released their analysis of NYC charters, they found that they, on average, outperformed traditional public schools in NYC, especially in math. At the time of the national study, people who were against charter schools pointed out CREDO was the anecdote to Hoxby’s study of NYC schools, which was very favorable. Hoxby and the CREDO people actually had a nasty back and forth over research methods. In the end, if you believe CREDO’s conclusions nationally (charters bad or so-so), you should believe CREDO’s NYC conclusions (charters generally good).

This doesn’t mean that any specific charter is better than another traditional public school, as schools should be evaluated on more than just tests, but by your own logic, if you refer to CREDO as a way to show charters fail to deliver on their promises, this is not their conclusion in NYC. This has been written up in multiple forums and analyses, but read it in their own conclusions: credo.stanford. edu/reports/ny.

It’s a complex study, using rigorous methodologies, but a main conclusion is “Overall the results found that the typical student in a New York City charter school learns more than their virtual counterparts in their feeder pool in reading and mathematics. In school-by-school comparisons New York City charters perform relatively better in math than in reading.”

You wrote “No, and you never will, because it does not fit their agenda of using charter schools to break the UFT.” Tell that to Randi, who never truly let go of power at the UFT, despite the nominal change in spokesperson, who happens to be running for President soon. Charter schools are governed by the Taylor law and are relatively easy to organize for labor.

Once enough potential members have committed to unionization, the UFT can petition a school’s board. If the board doesn’t accept their representation, the UFT can petition PERB and basically at that point it’s a straight up registration check. What labor dreams of nationwide, cardcheck, is a reality for NY charter schools. The UFT shouldn’t blame unionbusting for their lack of success organizing, they just haven’t done a good job and they lack good organizers.

I respectfully ask that you file a correction for the “non-profit” and “CREDO” references in your article. You run a good paper, but you need to get your facts straight. I saw your article on ednotesonline. blogspot. com, so I am including that blogger as well.


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