Sunday, January 14, 2007

What Are They Doing Right?

There's a story in the Daily News about a very successful charter school:

The charter school scored one of the highest passing rates (95.7%) in the state's seventh-grade math test last year, finishing ahead of far more prestigious schools. "We have really strict rules for behavior and work, and these scores are the result of that love, discipline and very high standards," school founder Deborah Kenny said.

I have no problem with that. But my adventures in hall patrol have taught me that where I work, easy fixes are preferred by many over viable consequences. Anyone who has kids knows that they will get away with everything they're allowed to. So why do we allow it?

In my classroom, it's not allowed, and I will go to great lengths to ensure consequences for unacceptable behavior. But despite being a fascistic authoritarian bastard, I'm unwilling to spend my time getting involved with parents of kids who aren't my students. So why won't the fascistic authoritarian bastards over at Tweed compel administrators (or deans, or anyone) to back me up?

"The school makes us focus on our homework, preparation, academics and our behavior," said Jared Thornton, 13, of West Harlem.

Students of Village Academies typically have two hours of homework a night, half an hour of pleasure reading and a school day ending at 4:40 p.m., one hour later than the citywide public school schedule. "When I got here in fifth grade, I thought the rules were way too strict," Jared said. "But I've never cared more about my education, and my teachers respect and teach me more than anyone ever has."

That's great. But it's very sad we don't do the same. Of course there are bad charters and great public schools (though many of them are over the Nassau border). But there's no reason we couldn't do better, if the powers that be had any interest whatsoever.

My friend Schoolgal (who sent me this story) writes:

...teachers like you and I and many others stress the same values, but the DoE and administrators really do not. Would charter schools be needed if these values were stressed and incorporated in each and every public school?

That's a great question.

What's your opinion?
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