Monday, October 4, 2010

Bloomberg's Charter Schools Underperform Traditional Schools

Last week, we learned that New York City's charter schools received lower grades on their "report cards" than traditional public schools received.

Poor Quality

We have highlighted the fact that only 28% of black male students in New York City graduate from high school. We have also criticized the Mayor for attempting to fix the public school system through charter schools.

Our city's public school system is not meeting the needs of our city's children, and, ironically, the Mayor's solution, charter schools, is thus far more a part of problem than a part of the solution.

While there are many high performing charter schools, the average charter school in New York City is doing a poorer job educating our city's children than the average traditional public school. This reality is particularly shocking when combined with the fact that charter school students are from higher income families, are less likely to have a first language other than English, and are less likely to require special education.

"Success" Academy

Mayor Bloomberg's favorite charter schools are Eva Moskowitz's Success Academy schools, but journalists have revealed the low priority that Success Academy places on educating our city's children.

Success Academy spent $1.3 million in two years on marketing to families to increase the number of applicants to its schools. But, there were only 900 spots available. In a disgusting misuse of funds, Mayor Bloomberg's favorite charter effort looked to have the largest possible number of disappointed families in its "lottery" events in which the Success Academy's students were selected. The large number of disappointed families was then used to justify the creation of more charter schools for Success Academy.

The $1.3mm that was used to promote the Success Academy charter school brand rather than to educate children reflects the priorities that are causing charter schools to fall behind traditional charter schools in terms of educating children.

Bad Grades for Charters

On average, charter schools received a grade of C+, primarily based on test scores. But, traditional schools did far better on average, receiving a B (not a B-, which would have only been one step better than charter schools).

We are long overdue for a re-examination of our city's charter schools and our Mayor's approach to them. If charter schools are going to educate children even more poorly than traditional public schools and are going to waste resources promoting themselves instead of educating children, we need to demand that the Mayor shift away from counting on charter schools to mask his failures in the educational arena and toward real accountability - not just teacher accountability but rather accountability at every level right up to and including the Mayor himself.

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