The Q at Parkside

(for those for whom the Parkside Q is their hometrain)

News and Nonsense from the Brooklyn neighborhood of Lefferts and environs, or more specifically a neighborhood once known as Melrose Park. Sometimes called Lefferts Gardens. Or Prospect-Lefferts Gardens. Or PLG. Or North Flatbush. Or Caledonia (west of Ocean). Or West Pigtown. Across From Park Slope. Under Crown Heights. Near Drummer's Grove. The Side of the Park With the McDonalds. Jackie Robinson Town. Home of Lefferts Manor. West Wingate. Near Kings County Hospital. Or if you're coming from the airport in taxi, maybe just Flatbush is best.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Q's School Tool: Part 8: Compass Charter School

So you say you want a progressive education for your child?

Like many parents who like to consider themselves progressive, the phrase has a nice ring to it. Who wants a "conservative" education for their kids, when they can be assured that they're getting forward-thinking and cutting-edge schooling (and free for the price of taxes to boot)? Whether you're considering going to private or public schools, the type of schooling is often among the top priorities, along with cost, location, and, let's be honest here, demographics. The Q's noticed in the last couple years of school-gazing that schools get branded as one thing or another, often by a single online review, and it becomes nearly impossible to undo the diagnosis. In our fair district - 17 - the pronouncements can be quite damning, and often unfair.

I've heard folks repeat certain depictions of schools over and over again, often quoting verbatim one source or another. On more than one occasion, I've heard folks repeat my own wording from a post on a school. (That's the internet for you. Blowhard laypeople get aped alongside the experts!) Here are some of the stereotypes:  PS92? Too strict, stuck in the past. PS770, The New American Academy? Progressive-ish, 60 kids per class w/4 well-paid teachers. PS249 The Caton School? Homey but not particularly progressive. Great for dual language Spanish. PS375 Jackie Robinson? Improving, super poor, with a lack of diversity. Explore Charter School? Again, not diverse, and a nose-to-the grindstone, "no excuses" kinda school. To diversity, NY Times went as far as to base a whole article on segregation on Sonny Kleinfeld's experience at that one school, Q post here. There are tons more examples, so don't think I'm trying to leave anyone out. It's just so heartbreaking to see parents tortured decisions being made on such shreds of evidence!

Then there's the rest of Brooklyn. Where once there were a couple, now there are literally dozens of gentrifier-approved public schools. Many use the descriptor "progressive" to distinguish themselves from...from...from what exactly? The fact is that unless you're sending your kid to the Brooklyn Free School (super loosey goosey) or some military-styled "yes ma'am" "academy" that teaches basics, basics, basics, you're probably gonna get a healthy mix of discipline styles, curricula and school cultures. The bread and butter, of course, is your kid's teacher, and even at great schools there are bad apples, or ones suffering from breakdowns or personal dramas, or who leave mid-year. And one guy who knows told me you can expect at least ONE bad teacher in your kid's run at elementary school. Still, 5 outa 6 ain't bad. (Little tidbit: that was Meat Loaf's original title for his #1 smash single from '78, but his producer felt the chorus was too long.*)

If you've been following the currents of new school development in the BK, you may have heard of a new school being started by a leadership team of three who met while working at Community Roots. I recently sat down with Todd Sutler, a man just crazy enough to try to put the "progressive" back in progressive. He and his two partners -  Brooke Peters and Michelle Healy - spent a year criss-crossing the nation looking for exemplary schools, teachers and methods. Called The Odyssey Initiative, their tour convinced them more than ever that "experiential" or progressive models can be applied successfully to kids of any means, class, race or culture. Now the trio has a charter, and are starting the Compass Charter School this fall with Kindergarten and First Grades only, adding a grade each year. And hey, they're into looping! I only just heard about it this year, but I kinda dig it in theory. You stay with the same teacher(s) for more than one year, and in the case of Compass that means for two year stretches at a time. And the founders are most certainly dedicated to seeing that their student body reflect Brooklyn's demo. The newbies often have certain expectations of what their school should offer, but that doesn't mean the same techniques don't work for all.
When it comes to teaching the most educationally vulnerable, as Todd sees it, there's something paternalistic and bigoted about expecting that the only way, say, a poor black kid can learn is through brow-beating and constant testing, always looking at results over experiences. As if one group of kids don't need the same things as other kids? Project learning. Best practices in math. Socratic method. Arts. Individualized attention. Integrated Studies. The whole nine. 

I sat down with Todd to talk turkey about his new school, opening in District 13 (sigh, not 17) this fall. Since he and his colleagues/co-founders seem to have such a splendid grasp on the currents of education it's a real drag that the DOE couldn't find a spot for Compass in our fair and underserved District. They lobbied for 17, as well as 13, but the space was only to be found in Ft. Greene, not far from the school at which the three met and joined forces - Community Roots. Croots (as I like to call it, though no one else in their right mind would) is a fan favorite and has been since its Bank Street educated leaders built it eight years ago now. If you want to read as thorough a description of the "progressive education model" as I've come across, or rather the kind that you might be able to understand as a non-academic, it would look something like this. Croots puts it all out there, and from what I've heard from close friends who attend, they achieve their objectives. It's therefore one of the tougher tickets to scalp, kinda like gaining entrance to a Stones club date before their world tour. As in it helps to know Jagger or Richards, or in this case, I guess Mick Jagger would be Alison Keil and Keith Richards would be Sara Stone, the co-founder-directors (or vice-versa - I don't know them personally, or well enough to say which plays guitar and which handles lead vocals). But Charters work by lottery, with siblings getting in first, so it's not like KNOWING them gets you in, but then relationships ARE important even on supposedly impartial waiting lists and...well, this post isn't about kindergarten admission strategies, but suffice to say a lot of parents go through hoops, or pay through the nose, in order to get into their fave schools. Think stories of parents renting an extra apartment in a favored district are urban myths? Think again. If you have the dough, it's darn effective, though parents may be loathe to admit it. Lying about addresses? Yep. Begging? You bet. And what does that ultimately say? The most entitled get the most entitlements. Same as it ever was. (I'm no saint, but I did decide I wasn't interested in starting my kids educational journey with a big lie. It's just me, and I don't really fault anyone for going the distance for a perceived head start for their kid. Still, I can't think that I'm doing my daughter any favors by modeling sneakiness. That damn conscience! What has he ever done for me anyway? Why you I oughta...)

Lots of smart folks like Todd-Michelle-Brooke aren't interested in kissing the oligarchy's ass by ignoring the needs of the least privileged. They want a school that works for all, and doesn't market itself just to one group or the other. It's clear that a diverse student body is an audacious goal, particularly in a stratified class society like we have today, but you can tell Todd means business. I'm no sociologist, but I'd dare say that the Horatio Alger myth has never been more myth than it is today. A few educational examples:

  • One can pay top dollar now to get your kid tested "gifted and talented."
  • I know a dude in Princeton, NJ who charges more per hour than most lawyers for an hour with your child to study...the SATs. 
  • Need-blind admissions are becoming increasingly rare at the best colleges. 
  • Parents actively or passively shun schools that are too poor or too black, even when the schools get good grades
  • That little thing about renting apartments in better zones  and working "connections" to get a spot at a fave school?
  • Affirmative Action's been stripped of effectiveness. 
  • Very few powers-that-be talk seriously about school integration anymore
  • Charters often consider one style of teaching to be good for poor kids; another for affluent ones, further exacerbating segragation

Most folks consider busing to have been a miserable failure, and few new attempts have made to seriously address what most educators would call a major problem affecting not only nonwhite school performance, but also cementing the toxic notion of cultural otherness and by extension, unworthiness. If your world is segregated from the moment you become aware of society, i.e. school, what chance do you have of living King's dream? If that dream has relevance. Sometimes I wonder.

Oops. Got sidetracked again. Todd and I had the same problem in our wide-ranging conversation. We kept trying to get back to our core agenda, so I could maybe write a thoughtful piece on his school. He kept wanting to talk specifically about what his school was going to be; I kept wanting to get at the heart of what it means to be "progressive" in a world where words like "inquiry" and "integrated" and "holistic" and "diverse" get tossed around like so much feed in a chicken coop. And then of course, the question of the constant sloshing of capital in Brooklyn comes up, and the whitening of black Brooklyn, and the entitlement gap, and...anyway, Todd's my kinda guy, and though I may not live in district, I certainly share the same air when it comes to this stuff. I sat on a founding board for a dismal charter school application (don't ask) so I read his team's app with great curiosity. If you're someone who likes the nitty gritty, you can read the whole dang thing here.

Here's the sort of stuff the Q likes to read about a school, and it's right there on the Compass website: 
Students at all grade levels will engage in meaningful inquiry based interdisciplinary projects. All students will participate in a variety of research practices including observations, question development, interviews, artifact collection, field visits, note taking and hands-on experiments.
Here's another snippet I dig:
Sustainability education and sustainable practices will be infused through the daily practices and curriculum of CCS. Our interdisciplinary units of study will give students opportunities to examine the concepts of environmental stewardship, resource management, social justice, and economic justice. We will incorporate sustainable practices like recycling, eating responsibly sourced food, and using energy efficient products in our school environment. We will also encourage students, families, and staff to adopt these practices in their lives outside of school.
Yes, ma'am!  And for an arty-farty guy like myself, you know I like:
CCS will value the arts as a form of communication and expression. Visual arts, music, and movement/dance will be incorporated into the CCS model. Arts specialists will design  discipline based courses as well as plan lessons and co-teach with classroom educators to fully integrate the arts into the core subjects.

At the very least I urge you to check out Todd and Michelle and Brooke in person at one of their upcoming outreach sessions, like the one coming up on this Thursday at the Central Library. Even if you don't think the school is right for you, either practically (it's on Adelphi 'tween Dekalb and Lafayette) or ideologically, you can ask these folks the kinds of questions you might not get to ask in your typical school tour.

And besides, you really shouldn't formulate any depictions on what some pasty chubby old dude writes on his blog, now, should you?

"Original lyrics to Two Out of Three Ain't Bad - "I Want You, I Need You, I Heard You, I Employ You, I Gave You a Necklace For Your Birthday, But there ain't no way..."


Anonymous said...

It's a shame they're not in our district. No wonder houses here are half the price as across the park. Still, this sounds like an amazing school and they haven't even opened their doors. Maybe they'll open a second by the time my kid hits kindergarten!

Anonymous said...

clarkson, as you will eventually learn, the best path in NY City public schools is the one made available through the gifted program.

Charter schools are a good way to get out of the worst public schools, but that option will come under pressure due to the work of de Blasio and his anti-charter schools chancellor.

As you may have noticed de Blasio is already flailing away, getting nowhere fast and undoubtedly making a lot of people pine for Bloomberg.

Anonymous said...

It's ridiculous Compass went to district 13. District 13 already has two other excellent progressive charter schools, Community Roots and Arts and Letters. District 17 has nothing similar. If Compass wanted to serve a community currently without that kind of public education option they would have come to District 17. Neither of the zoned public schools in 17 could be considered progressive in any way. That's not secret language for anything, it's totally about the education at the school. Give parents who seek a certain education for their particular children more credit than that. Parents in NYC seeking progressive ed are rejecting the high stakes testing and homework loads in public schools. On the advice of just about every education expert out there commenting on this issue now. You can't talk about private vs public or public vs charter without talking about testing. If the NYC Mayor and DOE were able to opt out completely from testing that would make it better to all enroll in the public schools and make that happen, but it's not an option for the city unfortunately.

sori said...

Eva Moskowitz, is that you?

While charter schools provide an alternative to public schools, they have flaws just like ANY other institution. I wish people like you would assess the negatives that accompany charter schools rather than ignoring them.

And no one is going to rid charter schools from this city. It's all in your head.

Clarkson FlatBed said...

That's a lot of tough talk, Anon 3:27. But Compass had no choice in the matter. The DOE decided where to put them.

There are more than two zoned schools in 17. Which ones are you referring to? Have you visited them and can say for certain what sort of teaching is going on, or are you assuming like everyone else?

Perhaps you don't know that the Superintendent of our district is one Buffie Simmons, who, judging by the enormous outpouring of negative energy here on this very site, and subsequent investigation by the DOE, hasn't exactly helped the cause.

Progressive isn't code, and I didn't suggest it was. What I said was that it appeals, broadly, to the gentrifiers. A bunch of horseshit is being sold to poorer nabes, and frankly to politicians, that what poor kids need is tough love and 3 Rs of the age-old variety.

When the folks of 17 start demanding more of their neighborhood they will get better schools. Right now, everyone opts out and goes somewhere else. They've been doing it for years.

Anonymous said...

I have a negative to mention about charter schools: NAA does not offer smaller, inclusion classes for kids with IEPs. When charter schools don't offer that one could guess it's because they are trying to make their test scores higher, which is something Eva Moskowitz famously did. Community Roots and Arts and Letters do have inclusion classes and happily. PS 92 does not have inclusion classes. So really, district 17 does not serve kids with IEPs. Not good.

Anonymous said...

Yes I do know the two zoned schools in 17 are not progressive.

Clarkson FlatBed said...

New American Academy is not a charter school. It's a regular DOE with a special mandate and flexible union rules, decided jointly with the union. The leader, Shimon Waronker was given broad latitude. He even got to choose the number of the school - 770 - based on the address of the home of Chabad Lubavitch on Eastern Parkway. Iron Huevos, huh?

Clarkson FlatBed said...

Um, which ones?

Clarkson FlatBed said...

What I'm asking, Anon, is how do you know they're not progressive? I'm not trying to be a jerk. I'm asking where you got your information from.

Anonymous said...

I talked to the psychologist at PS 92 and I know people who toured both that school and the other in CH, forgetting the #. And I know a babysitter who knows parents at the schools.

Clarkson FlatBed said...

Take PS375, a school that most of Lefferts is zoned for, and gets excellent marks from Board of Ed in many areas, and an A on its latest report cards. Below are its mission and vision statements. Given what's identified in these, I would need to go and visit and spend time talking to the principal in order to determine that progressive models are not employed. I do know, however, that the school is almost all black students and mostly poor. Beyond that, a generalization is probably not something I feel qualified to make.


The Jackie Robinson School will strive to be a consistent and stable learning institution in the community. We envision a school where all students can master the standards. All of the stakeholders in our school community will be valued and will have a vested interest in the successful outcomes all of the students. Our school values enrichment activities as being just as important as academics. Students will have repeated experiences to demonstrate their talents in the arts and also be given opportunities to develop new talents.

At the Jackie Robinson School, students, teachers, and the community view themselves as leaders and empowered citizens that value the responsibility associated with leadership. Our school will be the foundation in our community that will be supportive and encourage lifelong learners. Our school will continuously focus on math, science, literacy and technology, and ensure that they are fully integrated into all subject areas. The Jackie Robinson School will work diligently to become the best elementary school in Brooklyn and eventually be ranked amongst the top schools in New York City.

Our mission is to work in partnership with community-based organizations to prepare students to achieve their personal best, and fulfill their responsibilities to the community as active lifelong learners. As our motto states, “Excellence is our only option,” it is our ultimate goal to collaborate with local community-based organizations to cater to the total development of every child. We also subscribe to the belief that our school must become a learning community that helps to develop meaningful relationships with families. Our partnership with the Community Learning Support Organization (CLSO) will help build bridges between our school and the Crown Heights community.

Education and development of the whole child is always a priority at the Jackie Robinson School. We are committed to giving our students a high quality, first class Public School education by differentiating instruction, integrating math, science and technology into all subject areas, and designing learning opportunities based on the unique needs of each student. By promoting academic rigor, high expectations and repeated opportunities to excel, students will experience success throughout the school year with the creation and implementation of individualized instructional plans. The members of the Jackie Robinson School community will work diligently to create a positive, nurturing, and empowering learning environment. We will encourage our students to become risk takers and innovators while becoming positive contributing members of our society. With consistent collaboration and systematic planning, and a supportive administration, our students will be able to compete academically with top students in NYC, our nation and the world. While maintaining and developing relationships with the community, our neighborhood will be encouraged to actively share our vision and mission.

Anonymous said...

Q, genuinely want to know, why did you yourself not tour PS 375 and PS 92?

Clarkson FlatBed said...

I've toured 92, and spoken personally with the principal on more than one occasion.

375 - tried to go last year but missed the date due to a work thing. Spoke to the principal on the phone. Will visit this year. My kid's not in kindergarten til next year.

249, also a zoned school in 17 near the park. Toured. Loved it.

LGCS - 2 tours. Long talks with parents and with the principal.

NAA - two long talks with the principal and tours. Sat in for a long time in a kindergarten class.

Any other questions?

I'm doing my best to do my research, and I'm trying not to rely on what I think I know about education. I'm at PS705 now, because I got in for tough to find pre-K slots.

What I do know is that local parents could easily integrate a local school if they want to, and that there would undoubtedly be changes to the school as a result. We all bring something, we all take something, hopefully for the betterment of all involved.

But as I've tried to allude to, it's really all about money, class and race, and there is very little fair assessment of the schools coming from parents. How many schools do one set of parents attend? Enough to make judgment calls?

It's mostly all word of mouth. I also encourage everyone to determine for themselves and not take my word on any of it. You, anon, on the other hand, are perfectly comfortable passing along third hand information as fact.

Anonymous said...

Wow you really completely missed his point didn't you? He didn't say anything rosy about 375 at all, just pointed out they got an A. They were even written up as one of the most improved schools in an article I read on the New York Times blog.

Anonymous said...

I'm actually uncomfortable with the whole let's all enroll then change the school. These schools serve a community who from what I hear from some of those in the community (so don't shoot the messenger) often want and prefer a more traditional approach to discipline and education and actually like the testing and ways to measure how their child is doing. My approach would instead be to talk to the principal and tell him/her, this is what I'm looking for, is this what you offer? Then my interest is based on their answer. That goes for public or private. I want us as a family to feel like we are a good match for the school as a culture and community and we can contribute something positive to what they are already doing. Help bring resources yes, help improve what needs improving, yes. But to completely change a whole educational philosophy, not for me.

Tom said...

I've been to Jackie Robinson. It's a great school in a lot of ways. But I couldn't see my kid there, fitting in, and yeah it probably has a lot to do with culture, which is the word I would use rather than simply race and class. It's hard to send your kid to a school where you're that different.

Clarkson FlatBed said...

Btw, I wasn't trying to say there's anything wrong about using whatever tools you have to make a decision. Though I do personally think those report cards are ridiculous. I was trying to point out how hypocritical it is to use test scores to judge schools when you're the sort that doesn't believe in testing, that's all.

To Anon at 6:16: You're absolutely right that if you go to the principal and ask what they offer and you get an answer that doesn't jibe...that's not the school for you. Couldn't agree more. However, most parents will never do that. Even if they do go to an open house, they won't ask the question. Most will simply rely on old stories told and retold on crackly telephones.

Some parents and I went to PS92. It was clear that there would be no welcome mat, not that it needs to be red carpet. The next principal may be more inviting to the new blood, but not this one. Diane Rahmaan is proud, she's probably quite skilled, but she's not the person who will remake PS92 as a school that represents the neighborhood diversity in 2013.

But one thing about testing. You mentioned it as it relates to judging student progress, as in "through the year," to determine what and how a child is learning. I have no problem with that whatsoever, and I consider myself progressive. That kind of testing is exactly the kind I informs teachers and parents of stuff they need to know to change course, praise progress, and for the teacher to understand his/her own effectiveness.

The testing I find most reprehensible, and the kind most principals are rebelling against, are the kinds meant ultimately to judge teachers and schools, punatively. The kids have to go through it; they get taught TO it. But it's only a management tool. It should not be a priority in my view.

Cookie Monster said...

I love seeing the Q get riled up. I've even done it to him on purpose a time or two.

Anonymous said...

Just to be clear about it, district 17 is large and there are tons of zoned schools. 705 is in the district and thats the one Clarkson goes to and I hear it's both good and diverse. No surprise he would go there. I wish Compass were coming here too but still you have to get in on the lottery. I feel like there are so many choices and what I thought was that there would be none. Something happened in the last ten years where now everyone thinks they can go anywhere and it seems kind of true. On my block kids go to like a dozen different public schools.

Anonymous said...

P.S. 92. Yikes

Mom at 375 said...

My kids go to Jackie Robinson 1st and 3rd grade. We like it alot but we have good teachers. I keep thinking white people will start going with all the white people at the subway but they don't. I heard the charter school was for white people but my friend goes and says they're not there either very much. They would be welcome at Jackie Robinson but the principal maybe doesn't make an effort.

Anonymous said...

I'm someone who's a racial mutt and you can't believe the crazy stereotypes I've heard through the years. I don't have kids (yet) but I'm having a hard time understanding the logic here. Isn't it possible that there are parents at these unpopular schools that want progressive schools and would be happy to have more numbers? People seem to assume that these schools are all one thing. That's what I would call racism. People saying that all the poor black parents are not open, caring and interested in improving their schools too. I'll bet if you actually talk to the parents instead of letting your babysitter tell you about them you'd have some perspective. But you're not going to do that because you already made up your mind. That's what segregation does.

Clarkson FlatBed said...

People will close down their thinking when you call them racist. It's probably not fair but your point is taken. There's no reason to assume a school thinks like a block.

Look I've spent the better part of the year with the DOE at PS705 and by and large my kid is having a great time and is learning both at school and at home and it's all fine. I'm not overjoyed all the time and there are things I would change but we're working through it. Not all that many parents are involved compared to Maple Street School, but enough to make a difference, and the principal is open. Once you go to a school it's very easy to talk to people cuz you're all in the same boat and care about your kids.

I find that the environment is extremely loving. I don't agree with all the choices about discipline (not that's it's harsh, just different than I would choose) and food (I ate crap as a kid and would prefer they step it up) and the arts seem a bit rudimentary except when studio in a school comes in. The reward system seems a bit dated. There's good afterschool and of course you can't help but be completely won over by the kids. They're all adorable and sweet and you don't notice differences the way you do with adults. It's hard to judge a four year old!

Once a school tips into, say 20% white, it seems that other whites are willing to take the plunge. That's happening all over Brooklyn. Frankly some of the "progressive" schools probably won't seem that progressive to people who went to truly progressive pre-schools. We were paying for it, and we were also paying for the hand-holding. But I like the idea of working towards bettering schools together with parents of different stripes. Frankly, the stripes don't seem that different when you're working together. Of course, some parents are really different in background, but then I just try to remember that I am to them too. Different, that is.

The worst fears about public school do not seem in evidence to me, at least at the elementary level. I continue to look at other schools and will use my new normal as a guide. But I for one think that public school is pretty much what I would've hoped for, and not worthy of the fear-mongering I've heard my whole life about NYC public schools. And talk about a lovely teacher...she just loves little Miss Clarkson Jr. and that makes me wanna cry sometimes.

Anonymous said...

City-wide and state-wide testing in the public schools starts early. In the first couple of years results do not show much of an imbalance linked to class, culture, affluence, neighborhood or race.

However, around third grade the divide begins to open. And it's been this way for many decades.

When Carmen Farina was the head of district 15, there were no improvements in academic performance. Thus, in her tenure as chancellor, there will be no improvements. In fact, it's more likely some ground will be lost. Meanwhile, I've been told her retirement paycheck is in the neighborhood of $200,000 a year. On top of that figure, she'll receive her chancellor's salary, which is higher than the mayor's.

The school system is now headed by a person who opposes charter schools and takes home close to half-a-million bucks a year to undermine a promising side of education in this city.

Bob Marvin said...

RE: Carmen Faraña's compensation; IIRC §211 and §212 of the NY State Retirement and Social Security Law impose income limitations when one returns to work after retirement. She must be working under one or the other. §211 requires a waiver; §212 doesn't, but has far more severe income restrictions. I don't think anyone returning to work for the same agency can receive their full pension AND salary.

Anonymous said...

Bob Marvin:

However, if you plan to work for a public employer (New York State or one of its political subdivisions), there are two sections of the Retirement and Social Security Law (Sections 211 and 212) that may affect you.

Under Section 212, you may earn up to the annual amount set by law. The limit for 2014 is $30,000. The New York State Legislature periodically adjusts this amount. However, your earnings are generally not limited in the year you reach age 65 and thereafter.

If you return to work for a public employer and earn more than the Section 212 limit, your pension will be suspended unless your prospective employer requests a Section 211 approval of employment for you. If approved, this will allow you to continue receiving your retirement benefit without reduction unless you return to a former employer.

Worst-case scenario of Carmen Farina, the woman who promises to stop the expansion of charter schools is -- a temporary suspension of her current pension benefits while she works as school chancellor for more pay than she's now receiving in retirement benefits.

As chancellor, she'll accrue more retirement benefits as well an enjoying many perqs while she's on the job -- expense-paid trips for "education" junkets and other boondoggles.

Or, her pal de Blasio will grant her a waiver and she'll collect her pension and her paycheck.

Maybe, to appease various ruling bodies, she'll end up paying a high tax rate while collecting both her pension and paycheck.

No matter what, she's in the job to impede charter schools. Therefore, it surprising you would come to her defense over the issue of pay.

Clarkson FlatBed said...

1.1 million students. 75,000 teachers. 24 Billion Dollar budget.

When you get put in charge of that kind of organization, the pay is gonna be big. College sports coaches make more than she does, no matter how you quantify her total compensation. Who cares what they pay her in a $24 Billion budget? If she gets good work out of people and sets strong policy they couldn't pay her enough.

It's time to take a step back and issue charters only to the schools that show marked change for their students. The data is starting to come in - the popularity of the schools is another good indicator. We'll see which ones are working and perhaps let those leadership teams start new ones OR, better yet, start applying their best practices to DOE schools. What better result from the wild run-up in charters over the last dozen years?

One of the problems I've noted is that teachers don't seem to have any protections at all in non-union charters. On the surface that might sound good, but only if management is strong and not capricious in its discipline and retention. It seems teachers aren't staying with charters as long, and that could damage schools in the long run.

Anyone who shows blind faith in charter schools is missing the point. They were meant to create competition and show that they could better educate. Most, are not better by any rubric. Those that are, deserve to stay and enhance the entire system.

Anonymous said...

clarkson, your rationalization about the meaninglessness of the school chancellor's paycheck versus the size and budget of the school system further compared with the pay of college sports coaches says you want to avoid the real issue.

The new mayor and the new chancellor both oppose charter schools. Worse, they have express a bizarre faith in the public school system when it comes to the system solving its own problems.

They oppose the closing of schools that have obviously failed. More accurately, the mayor and chancellor oppose the closing of schools with administrations and teaching staffs that have failed to achieve a few reasonable goals.

Hence, by leaving those floundering schools open, there will be no space available in DOE buildings for charters. Thus, de Blasio and Farina can avoid admitting they're deeply opposed to the spread of charters. They can shrug their shoulders and say "Hey, the DOE buildings are full. There's no space for any charters. What can we do?"

Easy side-step for them.

Anyway, your position on the DOE and the public school system is pretty much the same as the old view by the management of ATT, before the Supreme Court broke up its monopoly in 1984.

By that time MCI was making a little headway, but it was stymied by the overwhelming power of the entrenched bureaucracy of ATT. After the 1984 break-up of the Bell monopoly, the telephone industry went into period of revolutionary change for the better.

Some of that change has expanded to include education -- with MOOCs -- the Massively Open Online Classes, free to the world. Last year I took one of Harvard's offerings. The Greek Hero.

However, no concept scares a DOE employee more than the concept of competition. So it's a sure thing the DOE, by way of the teachers' union, will do its best to pummel the charter-school movement into helplessness.

If a charter school proves to be sub-par, the facts surface quickly and kids rarely endure an lasting effects. On the other hand, failing public schools bumble along for years before they're closed, and now, with the new mayor and chancellor, they'll waffle along toward oblivion for more years than ever, impairing the educations of far more kids in more serious ways for much longer.

The school system will trudge on, but each kid gets only one shot, so if a kid lands in a weak school, it's best for the weakness to become known quickly thereby enabling the parents to take swift corrective action on behalf of their kid.

Today, if you were to read The Blackboard Jungle, which was published in the mid-1950s, or see the movie, you'd realize the NYC public school system has changed very little over the last 60 years.

If you want visual confirmation, go over to James Madison High School and look at the photos of famous graduates hung on the wall outside the school's auditorium. Or check out the Ruth Bader Ginsburg courtroom on the second floor. She's a James Madison grad. The school's last notable graduate was Chuck Schumer -- 1968.

Clarkson FlatBed said...

My dear friend, wasn't it you that brought up the issue of pay? And talk about sidestepping...what about the charters that aren't performing as promised, as in most of them? Until the charters start to show serious promise we're stuck with similar outcomes. That is, if you're looking at test scores alone, which most serious thinkers find inadequate.

Closing a neighborhood school should be a last resort. Replacing the senior staff should be the first. But it's you, my dearest nemesis, who sidesteps the issue of how to integrate the schools better. I suspect, given your past statements, that you have no interest in that pursuit at all. Quite the opposite, your choice of "notable" grads is telling. Tons of great folks have come out of the schools since then; your idea of "notable" is extremely limited.

Anonymous said...

Free rent is over for NYC charter schools as de Blasio plans to make them pay

It's a radically different political climate now for New York City charter school advocates. Unlike Michael Bloomberg, Mayor de Blasio is no friend of charters and has vowed make schools that can afford it pay for space. ‘It's the norm around much of the country to charge appropriate rent,’ he said.

By Rachel Monahan / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

New York Mayor De Blasio, who during his campaign promised to reverse course on Bloomberg's education policies, must figure out how to tax the richer schools among the 115 charters in public buildings.

It's a radically different political climate now for charter school advocates. Mayor de Blasio is no friend of charters and has vowed to charge rent for schools that can afford to pay for space.

"The mayor made it very clear," said Zakiyah Ansari, advocacy director for the Alliance for Quality Education and a member of de Blasio's transition committee. "It's about equity; it's about fairness."

Carried to office in part on promises to reverse course on Bloomberg's education policies, de Blasio faces a thorny logistical challenge — figuring out how to tax the richer schools among the 115 charters in public buildings.

He said last week that it may be months before the details of his plan emerge, but he affirmed he'd stick to his guns. "It's the norm around much of the country to charge appropriate rent," he said — noting that he planned a "fair" system based on a sliding scale.

'It's about equity; it's about fairness,' Zakiyah Ansari, advocacy director for the Alliance for Quality Education and a member of de Blasio's transition committee.

"If there's money for some things there's got to be money for rent as well. I think right now we need space for our own kids; you're going to have a large pre-K initiative. Where are we going to put some of those kids?"

Officials at the Independent Budget Office noted that charters must report financial data to state authorities, but that the city may not have access to the full financial picture.

"It's still complicated to figure out what the correct or fair sliding scale may be," said the budget office's Doug Turetsky, noting different charter schools may provide higher salaries and benefits to teachers and administrators while others may have higher overhead costs.

A budget office analysis found the city could raise $92 million by charging all charter schools that use public space $2,320 per student, which the office estimates the locations are worth.

Charter advocates see the rent plan as a threat to their very survival.

Says New York Mayor de Blasio's new schools chancellor, Carmen Fariña, about charter schools that use public buildings: 'I think right now we need space for our own [public school] kids; you're going to have a large pre-K initiative. Where are we going to put some of those kids?'

Says New York Mayor de Blasio's new schools chancellor, Carmen Fariña, about charter schools that use public buildings: 'I think right now we need space for our own [public school] kids; you're going to have a large pre-K initiative. Where are we going to put some of those kids?'

"I feel we're entitled to public space because we are public schools," said Jacob Mnookin, founder of Coney Island Prep charter school, which opened in rented space and made the transition to public space, freeing up funds to take kids on field trips and buy laptops to use in class. "There are dozens of really, really, really high-performing charter schools, and it wouldn't make sense to me that a politician would enact policy that would negatively impact those schools."

"Some people just like to complain," Robertson said.

Clarkson FlatBed said...

I can't believe I'm responding to you, Negative Norman, but I just toured a charter school two days ago an the principal is not concerned. In fact, having a conversation about the actual costs is something long overdue. It may well be that, since Charters get less per pupil than traditional publics, partly because they're not absorbing core building costs, that this discussion will create a fairer calculation. It may even benefit everyone, if more costs for school buildings comes into play.

Don't be deceived...anything that would negatively impact any child's experience will be vetted. It's time the real numbers see the light of day. "Free rent" is a ridiculous accusation, just as saying De Blasio is anti-innovation or anti-success. Keep your eye on what ACTUALLY happens.

Anonymous said...

clarkson, a school principal doubles as a politician. He can't tell a parent the school might suffer from some kind of additional cost without scaring them off.

Of course, those with kids at public schools aren't told that budget cuts, or the whims of the administration, might suddenly appear and leave kids without something parents/kids wanted.

That's what ACTUALLY happens, which you will discover over the years.

Eliminating the Gifted Program at the school in Ditmas Park is an example of how whimsical public school principals can be.

Here's what will happen -- the testing results at that school will decline, and the lower scores will discourage a lot of parents who had hopes of finding the right mix of neighborhood and schools.

Ditmas Park is reasonably characterized as a kind of Park Slope Lite. Now that the school principal is at war with the asian and white parents, there will be some blow-back. Unfortunately Carmen Farina will support the principal. Carmen has always opposed the Gifted Program.

Clarkson FlatBed said...

dude, ignore the research on G&T if you like. there's more to the question than test data.

no_slappz said...

The wrecking-ball is swinging...

De Blasio administration's education budget yanks $210M from charter schools, boosts prekindergarten programs

The new five-year capital budget for city schools has been boosted to $12.8 billion and makes some significant changes to plans the Bloomberg administration had to aid charter schools.


Saturday, February 1, 2014
The budget reflects Mayor de Blasio's distaste for charter schools and preference for prekindergarten.

The de Blasio administration’s new capital budget for the city schools includes a huge cash boost for prekindergarten programs — and a giant swipe at charter schools.

Education officials added a mighty $800 million to their five-year capital plan Friday night, with the new money coming from a bond sale and going to expand prekindergarten and ease classroom overcrowding.

The agency’s revised capital plan also yanks a whopping $210 million from programs former Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration had planned to aid charter schools.


It’s a big alteration to the city schools budget that reflects the new mayor’s preference for prekindergarten — and his distaste for charter schools.

“With this budget, the mayor is putting his money where his mouth is,” said Brooklyn College and CUNY grad center education professor David Bloomfield.
The revised budget boosts the capital budget to $12.8 billion and calls for the creation of 7,000 prekindergarten slots and 33,000 new seats for kids in other grades.

The project will be funded in part by the $210 million that will be freed up by scrapping programs to help charter schools.

Specifically, the change torpedoes plans laid by the Bloomberg administration for new buildings that would have been leased by charter schools.

“It’s a reflection of the city’s new priorities to shift resources from charter expansion to traditional public schools,” explained de Blasio spokesman Marti Adams.

Charter school advocates were outraged by the change, which means millions in lost resources. They say that imperils numerous kids.

“Thousands of minority and low-income students and families have their educational future unfairly put in jeopardy,” said Families for Excellent Schools director Jeremiah Kittredge.

About 60,000 city students currently attend publicly funded, independently operated charter schools.

no_slappz said...

Because the mayor doesn't believe parents and students should have a choice:

Mayor de Blasio defends yanking $210M from charter schools

Even though the education capital plan expands funding for prekindergarten seats, the mayor didn't specifically mention them when he defended his decision to cut charter school funding.

By Caitlin Nolan AND Erin Durkin / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Monday, February 3

Mayor de Blasio has made no secret of his misgivings about charter schools.

Mayor de Blasio defended his move to yank hundreds of millions in funding for charter schools, but said the money won’t necessarily go to expanding prekindergarten seats.

Education officials announced late Friday they would slash $210 million that had been devoted to creating classroom space for charter schools. The capital plan also expanded funding for new pre-K seats.


“I want the facts to be clear here. The action taken was to no longer devote (the money) to charter school expansion. Period,” de Blasio said Sunday. “And that frees up the money for other priorities.”

De Blasio has been a fierce critic of charter schools, supporting a moratorium on co-locating them in public school buildings and a requirement that those that are in city buildings pay rent.

Anonymous said...

FYI Arts and Letters is not a charter school. It is a non zoned public school that gives first choice to district 13 students. It is a great public school but I also wouldn't call it progressive. My son goes there and I find it a solid public school with an added focus on bringing back arts education to the curriculum. I went to seriously progressive schools for my lower, middle and upper school education and they school in the area I would identify as progressive is Community Roots.