"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Bloomberg Exempts NYC Charter Schools from Report Card

Bloomberg's not-so-stealthy school privatization charter plan just got a bit more visible on the radar: the 60 NYC charter schools will be preserved from any negative press or public castigation by his "linchpin" assessment system. How? Simple--they will not be issued report cards to show that they are are performing no better (and often worse) than the public schools they are intended to replace--at a 20% savings, of course.

From the NY Post:
November 7, 2007 -- While the city graded 1,224 public schools from A to F for the first time this week, report cards for its 60 charter schools were stamped with a different mark: incomplete.

That's because charter schools don't measure student, teacher and parent satisfaction using the same Department of Education surveys, officials say.

"We have to figure out a way to use their measure of parent satisfaction in a way to calculate a grade comparable to the grade of district schools," said Department of Education spokeswoman Melody Meyer.

Education officials said that there are legal obstacles to imposing the measures on all charters, but that steps were being taken to grade those schools whose charters were authorized by the city.

That explanation left even some charter-school operators scratching their heads.

"There's no reason we couldn't fill [the survey] out. We'd be happy to do that," said Eva Moskowitz, CEO of Success Charter Network, which operates a school in Harlem. "If you were a charter-school operator and the chancellor asked you to fill out a survey, would you do it? I would."

Those who questioned the immunity of charter schools from the grading scheme said it might wrongly suggest to parents that the schools have something to hide.

"I think it's a mistake not to assess them the same way public schools are assessed," said Merryl Tisch, vice chancellor of the state Board of Regents - one of the three charter-granting organizations in the state.

"There have been charter schools that have really struggled along the way," she said. "What's wrong with letting people know that?"

Advocates and others who work with charter schools argued that the high level of accountability built into charter school contracts should serve as enough of a public record.

Each charter school must establish strict goals for its students over a five-year period in order to have its charter renewed, and the annual assessments of those goals are publicly available, they said.

"I just don't know that it's necessary to have a grading system since you have this level of accountability that's built into the system," said Jeff Maclin, vice president of communications for the New York Center for Charter Schools Excellence.

But some parents said that having different accountability standards did not prevent the city from figuring out some way to assign grades to charter schools.

"By all means they should be graded," said David Bloomfield, a member of the Citywide Council on High Schools.

Wonder how NYC public schools can get some of that "built in" accountability magic that allows them to avoid oversight and public scrutiny? I think we know the answer to that question. If you don't, ask Steve Barr or Randi Weingarten.

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