Sunday, January 31, 2010

Charter school parent: Charter chickens come home to roost

Last week, we learned that Chancellor Klein sent a “Notice of Intention to Revoke Charter” letter to East New York Prep Charter School (ENYP). It’s not often that the Chancellor revokes charters, so this sent folks in charter land reeling.

After the stalemate with the State Legislature on changing the charter law for Race to the Top funding, this was bad news we did not need. The administration refused to lift the cap, since the legislature’s proposal would allow district parents to have input on school sitings – yet another way that parents in New York City have been excluded from the conversation on school reform.

Although charters are public schools, the practice of ignoring the district parents' concerns in co-locations can no longer continue. It seems the views of the actual stakeholders, public school parents in both the district and charter system, are always ignored.

The financial mismanagement and corporate chicanery that occurred at ENYP and other charter schools underscores the need for more accountability, transparency, parent voice and teacher protections at charter schools.

Parents complained to the DoE and were ignored. They also had no clue about the rules governing accountability in the charter contract. Teachers stood up for their students and were fired. Low performing and special ed students were expelled from the school so that Sheila Joseph could perform well with the only thing that charters are judged on – test scores.

Well, Sheila Joseph delivered on the test scores through her reign of terror and the cost of her success are the many expelled students, the families and students of ENYP who now have to find new schools for their children and her faculty and staff who now have to find new jobs.

I know many great school leaders and board members, but I also know many school leaders who view their charter school as their own fiefdom, teachers and staff as their serfs and students as their currency.

We need greater accountability, transparency, oversight of charters and their founding boards to ensure the East New York Prep Charter School debacle never happens again.

-- Mona Davids, President, NY Charter Parents Association

For more information about the closing of this school, see also
Head of charter school set to close fires back at teachers, DOE (GothamSchools); School flunks out (NY Post).