Friday, August 13, 2010

Death or Charter?

Those appear to be the options Columbus High School is facing right now.  Apparently the principal wants to remain principal, and according to the article has been in touch with the union over this.  There's something patently offensive about the assumption converting to a charter will somehow improve a school--in most cases charters don't do better than public schools.  However, Bill Gates thinks they do, so Obama and Arne Duncan have to think so too.

The Post states that such a conversion would keep the teachers unionized.  An important consideration would be whether the teachers get to stick with the UFT contract, or some farcical parody of it like what Green Dot teachers are saddled with--something that retains neither tenure nor seniority rights.  Another question is what sort of charter this would be.  Would it be run by teachers?  Or would some charter company like KIPP, or demagogue like Eva Moskowitz take over?

Another key question would be whether Columbus would keep the same population.  Columbus is in this situation because nearby schools closed and their would-be students were sent to Columbus rather than the new schools.  Though the city now says new schools will receive the same percentage of special ed. and ESL students as their neighbors, I'm inclined to believe that when I see it.

Charters take public money but they aren't public schools.  Public schools are neighborhood schools that serve our community.  Charters do us no favors by precluding and replacing neighborhood schools.  A neighborhood without a public school, in fact, is not much of a neighborhood at all.
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