Thursday, September 29, 2016

Tons of Coverage, Hundreds of Millions of Dollars for Charters--We're on Our Own

I cannot believe the crap that passes for news nowadays. Families for Excellent Schools says any damn thing it likes on behalf of Eva Moskowitz, who terrorizes young people into peeing their pants over tests. She's celebrated in the pages of the tabloids and, of course, in Chalkbeat NY, which considers her every move worthy of a feature story. They just had another expensive customized t-shirt heavy rally for more charters.

Meanwhile, I'm sitting in a school that's been over 200% capacity for decades and we have no place to put kids. My inbox is full of complaints from teachers in rooms with no windows that may or may not have air sources. I myself am in a room with a sunny southern exposure on the top floor that gets so hot I can barely concentrate. There's a non-functional air conditioner in front of the room. I complain and I'm told it will be fixed tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow.

It's a dual-edged sword for public schools here in Fun City. If your test scores and graduation rates aren't where the city wants them to be, you're under one program or other, and now they don't close your school anymore. You simply rehire the entire staff, and everyone has to apply to keep their jobs or become one sort of ATR or another. A lot of teachers don't bother to reapply, as they don't want to jump through all the various hoops demanded by the city and state, and who can blame them? Root causes like poverty, learning disabilities, and lack of English are no excuse for low test scores, and the core problems are vigorously ignored by all levels of government, right up to and including Secretary of Education Reformy John King, who happily dumps hundreds of millions of federal funds into charters.

And make no mistake--charters are not public schools. We don't run them, and we don't get to make decisions about them. We are, however, graciously allowed to pay for them. There is no way Eva takes the kids I teach, the ones who arrived here last week from countries all over the world. There is no way Eva takes the kids my school does, essentially everyone, up to and including alternate assessment students who are not expected to graduate and are a drag on the all-important stats. There is no miracle whatsoever in selecting students, dumping those who don't measure up, and achieving high test scores. If you or I allowed a student to pee her pants in class, we'd be up on corporal punishment charges via CR A-420. Of course Eva doesn't need any stinking rules.

My school is the most requested in the entire city. Any kid who lives in our district, or can successfully pretend to live in our district, gets in. As such, admin scrambles to meet contractual class size, but whenever you push out of one class, you push into another, and it's almost impossible. Our class sizes are already too high and we can barely keep up. Even if we do, 100 kids can walk through our doors on any given week and we'll be right back where we started.

It's a disgrace that the media celebrates the moneyed charter school astroturfers while studiously ignoring the effect on public schools. The more they draw from our best students, the more they can vilify us for not attaining the scores that they've achieved. The more they ignore what's actually happening on the ground, the more the public uncritically accepts their nonsense.

I don't know about you, but it's pretty clear that critical thinking is not being propagated no matter how much Common Core Crap we hurl at our hapless students. If so-called Families for Excellent Schools can regularly feed the media soundbites and stories, why the hell can't we?
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