Selected readings on US charter schools
High schools in the Bronx and Brooklyn are doing well. But an elementary program in East New York is a flop.
The United Federation of Teachers-operated charter elementary school in East New York, Brooklyn, was nearly closed by the city due to poor test scores.
But its high school counterpart in the Mott Haven section of the Bronx has earned an “A” in every category of the city’s newly released progress reports.
“It’s 4 p.m. right now, and most of the students are still in the building,” bragged Ashish Kapadia, the principal at University Prep Charter School.
“Some stay for clubs, sports or teacher office hours. That type of positive school culture snowballs and builds up momentum for everyone.”
And the union run high school in East New York earned a “B” in the latest progress report.
In both locations, all the teachers are members of the union. In the Bronx, though, they work longer hours than their counterparts at other city schools and are paid 20% more.
The results have been impressive: every member of the class of 2013 graduated in four years, and 20% of those students graduated with an Advanced Regents diploma.
Such results are exactly what the union said it could achieve when it abandoned years of rejecting charters and got into the business itself in 2005.
But in East New York, the elementary and middle-school portion of the union’s K-12 charter school has flopped — despite a promise by then United Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten that it would “dispel the misguided and simplistic notion that the union contract is an impediment to success.”
In East New York, just 10% of the students passed the state reading exam, and 13% passed the math exam in grades 3-8 last year.
By contrast, 26% of students citywide passed the reading tests, and 30% passed the math exams. As a result, the elementary and middle school drew an “F” on the city’s progress report, released last week.
The union attributed many of the past problems to the fact that younger graduating fifth graders frequently failed to enroll in the middle school section of the Wyona St. facility because the program had been housed in a high school building on Van Siclen Ave., about a mile away.
Still, last month the union opted out of the new ratings that city public school instructors have to face.
Mayor Bloomberg ripped that move, calling it “laughable” and “tragic for the kids who are not getting an education.”
Union officials contend it is unfair to compare the two schools because the one in the Bronx is a high school only.
But one education expert blamed the bad scores in Brooklyn on poor, and constantly changing, leadership.
By contrast, the Bronx high school was initially run by the widely successful Future is Now, which is headed by Steve Barr.
“The difference between the two of them is Steve,” said Mona Davids, president of the New York City Parents Union.
Source: New York Daily News – by Tanay Warerkar & Reuven Blau / New York Daily News, with Rachel Monahan