A Charter Schools is simply a school of choice. Parents choose the Charter School that has a curriculum that they feel would be good for the child and the teachers and administration have more say than provided in traditional public school. I feel that educational options are always a good thing but in the City of New York, charter schools are being utilized as an attempt to take over the entire NYC public school system.
NYC has been closing “failing schools” at an alarming rate. “Failing schools” are considered failing schools based upon nothing more than test scores and in the case of high school’s graduation rates. However, funding or lack thereof, individualized student performance; attendance and parental involvement are ignored.
Charter Schools provides New York City with the ability to treat Charter School teachers as a regular private company employee. Why is this important? New York is an at will employment state. An employer can fire an employee at any time with or without cause as the employee also has the ability to quit at anytime with or without notice. A teacher in a Charter School is not a member of the United Federation of Teachers and as a result can be terminated by administration at anytime whereas a public school teacher as a member of the United Federation of Teachers cannot.
It’s no secret that Charter Schools in most cases share space with public schools and in the event a public school is closed as a failing school a new public school will not be created. Rather the building will be given to a Charter School or divided amongst different Charter Schools. But as union members, New York City teachers cannot be fired right? Wrong, in the event a fiscal emergency is declared the City of New York can fire teachers. As of the writing of this blog post, the city is preparing to eliminate 8,500 teachers. Where will these teachers go as the City of New York will not be hiring public school teachers? Oh yeah, Charter Schools will be hiring.
Now let’s take it a step further. Failing schools are failing schools more often than not due to special needs students, students that do not attend and students whose parents are not actively involved in the education of their children. Where are these students going to go? They’ll simply be enrolled at performing schools where these students will potentially turn the performing schools into a non- performing aka “failing schools.” The school is failing and now needs to be closed but that’s okay, the city will just open a charter school in it’s place.
This will of course not happen overnight but the ball is in motion, The city attempted to close 5 failing schools in favor of Charter Schools but the parents and teachers of those communities fought the decision and won. The schools will remain open but for how long?
I like like Charter Schools and feel that they are a valuable alternative to both public and private schools. However, Charter Schools need to occupy their own space, construct their own buildings and stay separate and apart from public schools. Charter Schools should remain an alternative and not a replacement . The city of New York of course prefers Charter Schools as it gives them what they want. Complete and total control over the educational system of the City of New York with the added benefit of doing what they’ve always wanted to do; Eliminate the United Federation of Teachers and break the union.