Back in 2008, when Senator Obama was running against Senator McCain, something unusual happened in the final minutes of their third and very contentious, partisan debate. They agreed on something: charter schools were a good thing. They agreed on this one issue because charter schools when done right (as in NYC) are a good thing.
Our team had the pleasure of visiting with our friends at New Dawn Charter School in Brooklyn. New Dawn is one of several "transfer-like" charter schools (for a long time there was really only one, Wildcat Academy—but we now have five others). Running a transfer high school is hard. Starting one is even harder.
On Tuesday over 1200 charter school supporters came to Albany to meet with lawmakers and tell our stories. We also carried a simple message: charter schools should be eligible to compete for the full-day pre-kindergarten funding that Governor Cuomo has proposed.
Charter school educators are big on “grit,” that teachable character trait that helps at-risk students persevere to and through college. As a movement, charter schools have learned our own lessons about grit. We started with grand aspirations, to which we still fervently hold, but we also know that progress never comes as fast as one would like. We have learned, as well, that the problems we are working on aren’t solvable with a single tactic or strategy.
Whenever a charter school authorizer starts the process of revoking a school’s charter, the reactions are predictable. Though the revocation is not final, edu-journalists are fascinated. Teachers and families are justifiably concerned. Authorizers are tight-lipped. Charter advocates like us try to calmly remind everyone that, in the charter school sector, this is what accountability looks like. But everyone agrees that it is a sad day.
Today, teacher data reports for some 32 charter schools will be released to the public, following release of TDRs for district teachers as part of the Teacher Data Initiative. There are two distinct issues worth commenting on: the particularities of the charter school data and the errors therein, and the general issue of public release of such data.
Recently, and unfortunately, much of the media surrounding charter schools has focused on school closures. So much so that one can forget how many amazing charter schools New York City is fortunate to have.
I sat across the aisle from Clifford Thomas at the PEP meeting yesterday. He looked bone tired. Cliff grew up in the projects, eventually making his way to Harvard. He has now returned to New York to start a public charter school in CSD 19.