Thursday, August 23, 2012


Lisa North presented the case against charter schools, and for fully funding public education, at a hearing in Brooklyn on Tuesday.  The public was commenting on two new charter school proposals.  Here is her report.

I went to the "public hearing" on two proposed charter schools in District (13).   Only 2 people showed up that were not charter school people.....myself and a representative from City Councilwoman Letitia James' office.  I started off saying that having these public hearings at this time of the summer cannot be "public" hearings, as the public did not show up.  Also the place of the hearing is NOT even in District 13! (Ms James rep also spoke to these issues).  The DOE rep said that it was the state's regulations that forced them to be held now and that the D13 CEC offices were under construction (new school being placed there). 

I spoke to fact that the two charter school proposals sounded great and the people working to bring them to District 13 seemed genuinely  interested in helping the students in District 13.  The problem is that many of the public schools in District 13 are in great need of resources, not competition from other schools.   If these schools are approved to share a neighborhood public school, it will only HURT the many students already in that school.  Those students will have to share the gym, lunchroom, library, etc. Also taking students to fill up the charter schools means that the neighborhood school lose the funding.  Then that school has less money for arts, music, and partnerships with community groups.  The money to set-up these charter schools should be used to give our public schools more resources.  I told them that they should be confronting/pushing the DOE to allow groups of people to start regular public schools, not charter schools.

I also spoke about the fact that when you control for ELL, special education (especially those that need more services), free lunch (not just reduced lunch), and the students that are pushed out, charter schools do NO better than our public schools. Why not put the resources and your ideas to work in our District 13 schools?  

I also asked (during the question period) about how they were both going to fund a longer school day and about the fact that most charter schools only keep teachers for a few years.  There was a discussion about this also.

Unity Preparatory Charter School of Brooklyn, is being started mostly by former teachers (some from Brandeis HS).  Many live in Ft Greene (District 13).  They are young and want to make a difference.  They wanted to talk afterwards and we discussed the issue of charter schools being used to privatize ALL education here in the US.  I told them by participating in this charter school they have to know that they are basically part of the problem.  I said you have to see the BIG picture, not just wanting to start a great school for students and teachers.  They didn't want to look at that, and then I said.....people wanted to have blinders on about global warming.......and now many cannot deny that it is happening.  You must see the implications of your current actions.

Letitia James' rep said that I had said most of what she wanted to say, then she also discussed some of the issues.   Everyone thanked me for coming!!.....A rep from the NYC Charter School Center came up after and asked why NO UFT reps EVER come to these meetings!  As I was walking away I realized it was because they can't talk against charters as they SUPPORT them!

 I think it is time for the UFT to have a different position on charter schools.  They could  say that they have run their own charter schools.  From that experience they have learned that there is NO silver bullet to improve student learning.  It takes resources to help struggling students like smaller class sizes, programs for parents, social supports for students and families, in school intervention programs, and high quality after school and summer programs, to name just a few.  The UFT could call for a stop to all new charters and instead for the resources to be used for our struggling public schools.  No one is blaming the current charter school teachers who mostly want to help students, it is just that the charter school experiment has NOT worked.


Anonymous said...

Thanks Lisa

Lynette said...

Thanks Lisa. You are always standing up for us!!!!!