2010-03-19 / Columnists

School Scope

Are Charter School Operators Klingons?
Commentary By Norman Scott

Norman Scott Norman Scott I mean the evil 1960s version of Klingons, not the benign 80s version. But then again you can spell it with a “C” but I won’t go there (but if you have the stomach, check your wicki). If you go to any charter school hearing, the operators who show up pushing their pet schools into public school space seem to be reading from a script. They don’t intend to infringe. It will be wonderful for the two schools to work together. They know you have a wonderful school but shouldn’t people have choice? Isn’t it an American right? I mean, you get choice of corn flakes in the supermarket. The DOE told them how much space there is in the school – even if special ed has to be taught in a closet. They don’t want to steal your best kids, despite the glossy brochures the top scoring kids’ families are receiving over and over again. And best of all, they don’t want to take your building – this is just temporary – ground is already being broken for their own building – in western China.

What they don’t say is that they intend to grow at least to eighth grade, maybe 12th grade (and possibly cradle to grave) and can be assured of getting the building eventually because all requests by the public school to grow will be denied by the DOE. They may even take away a grade or two from the public school to make sure the often politically connected charter will have lebensraum.

And then there will be those charter school ads. Did you see the Harlem Children’s Zone ad on the Academy Awards telecast? THE ACADEMY AWARDS. And Eva Moskowitz’ Harlem Success is bombarding kids with brochures and even is advertising on TV. Don’t you wonder why all these schools with supposedly massive waiting lists of people dying to leave the public schools have to spend so much money advertising?

I missed the hearing at the Goldie Maple Academy where Challenge Preparatory Charter was making its case because I was taping a parallel hearing at PS 92 in Crown Heights, where the Lefferts Garden charter promised to take their kids to nearby Brooklyn Botanic Garden every day and fly them to the moon once a week. So I am relying on Miriam Rosenberg’s excellent report in last week’s Wave. As she quoted one charter school leader after another, I felt I was there because I had heard it all so often.

Well, maybe not the building part. It seems they were offered their own but turned it down. Here is a link to its application, which was approved by the Regents (which includes our own Geraldine Chapey:

http://schools.nyc.gov/NR/rdonlyres/ 676176D9-06BC-42A9-9C45- C5D3C5110CD3/76856/Q198_Challen geLeadership_EIS_Final1.pdf

The lead applicant, Rev. Dr. Leslie Mullings, is the executive director of the Rockaway Center for Community Development. Reverend Mullings is also employed as a substance abuse counselor and youth development specialist by the New York City Department of Education (NYC DOE). He is the Senior Pastor of the Far Rockaway Community Church of the Nazarene.

The School has also received letters of support from the following community leaders and organizations: Michelle Titus, State Assemblymember representing the 31st Assembly District (Queens); James Sanders, City Councilmember representing the 31st Council District (Queens); Helen Marshall, Borough President (Queens); Malcolm Smith, State Senator; Jonathan Gaska, District Manager Community Board #14; Kevin Alexander, Executive Director, Rockaway Development and Revitalization Corporation; and Congressman Gregory Meeks, House of Representatives – 6th Congressional District.

Shame on each and every one of them. With Helen Marshall supporting the charter what can we expect from our Queens Rep Dmytro Fedkowskyj when he votes at the PEP on March 23 in Staten Island where the issue has already been pre-decided by Bloomberg’s majority appointees? UFT Election Ballots Due by April 6

I’ve been pretty busy with the UFT election process, currently going school to school stuffing fliers in teacher mail boxes for the ICE-TJC slate I am running with. I will probably stop by a bunch of Rockaway schools by next week, so look for me (and inform your security guards and principals we have the right to do this because it is an election period). We have the right to stuff boxes because the Unity caucus which has run this union for 50 years gets all the chapter leaders to put literature in the boxes – time and again. Exactly how many Mulgrew ads have you gotten? It’s nice to have big bucks. ICE-TJC feels like Bill Thompson or Tony Avella vs. Bloomberg. The principal of one Rockaway school denied me when I tried to put leaflets in his school because he didn’t know an election was going on. He didn’t notice all those Unity ads flooding the mail boxes, I guess. I notified the UFT and he got a call from the DOE telling him the score. Next, I’m having Timothy Geithner call to tell him there was a financial crisis last year.

Schwach on Ravitch

I loved Howie’s piece on Diane Ravitch last week, but have a few points of contention. But I’m off to stuff mailboxes, so I’ll say more about that another time.

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