The city’s “district vs. charter” battle continues, until someone comes up with workable solutions that make both sides happy, and both sides realize it’s all about making the students happy and encouraging them to succeed as they enter a super-competitive world.
According to a 2014 Wall St. Journal article, “High-Performing N.Y.C. Charter Schools Share Their Success Strategies,” efforts have been made (behind the scenes) to help district teachers and principals learn from high-performing charters.
Places like NYC Collaborates (nyccollaborates.org) create opportunities for educators from district and charter schools to come together to share information and team up to improve student achievement.
It makes a lot of sense.
Youth organization Harlem RBI responded to the need for better access to education within the community and opened DREAM Charter School — East Harlem’s community-based public charter — in 2008.
According to its website, www.dreamschoolnyc.org, the school’s mission is to prepare students for high-performing high schools, colleges, and beyond through a rigorous academic program that aims to nurture critical thinkers who possess a strong character and a love of learning, along with a commitment to wellness and active citizenship.
“DREAM Charter School is pleased to see the recent legislative changes that further secure the growth of New York City’s charter school sector. But more work remains to be done until all charter schools in private space receive equitable facilities funding,” said Eve Colavito, head of the school.
“Each dollar spent on rent takes away from valuable resources that could be spent on our classrooms,” she added. “We look forward to working with our policy makers to bring about these changes to benefit our children.”
In a 2014 NY Daily News article (“The truth about charter schools”), quality charters are compared to well-run organizations: Since charters have more wiggle room, unlike district schools (nine out of 10 aren’t unionized), they can innovate and make changes to suit their needs, thanks to management flexibility.
It’s all about having the freedom to make savvy decisions, like making the workday longer; adjusting salaries and offering rigorous training; even hiring and firing teachers and school leaders when it’s deemed necessary.
However, did you know that local charters are held strictly accountable to the state for student performance, and every five years, are subject to reviews that determine if a school continues to operate?
According to that article, many kids who have attended several of Success Academy’s 22 schools have brought home some of the best test scores state-wide, due to the way their unique charters are run: Students are encouraged to spend more time on task, and a respectful, academics-centered environment prevails, while the staff makes sure parents are truly involved with what goes on in the classroom. See more at: succe
In her blog http://tntp.org/blog/post/success-academy-works-for-my-kid, super-involved Success Academy parent Ariela Rozman points out that “Success schools across the city have shown tremendous gains for students, often helping them meet state learning standards at double and triple the rates of other schools.”
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And a few of the new schools are independent “mom and pop” charters that aren’t part of a larger network.
Certainly, the “Don’t compete, collaborate” cause would be furthered if both charter school enthusiasts and foes were more candid about their stance in this hot-button debate.
So, while it doesn’t seem likely that folks on both sides of the aisle will be singing “Kumbaya” any time soon, on a more positive note, it does appear that charters are truly committed to sharing best practices with their district school counterparts and improving public education for all students here.