City Journal Winter 2016

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Marcus A. Winters
Charter Schools and Their Enemies « Back to Story

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While charter schools are characterized as competition for public schools, they are still public schools beholden to the government and ultimately fostering the government agenda. Unrecognized is the competition charters provide for parochial schools which reflect different agendas. Because they are tuition free, they will attract many of the students who otherwise would go to a parochial school. The long term outcome will be that some day there will ONLY be government schools -- churning out a population that thinks alike.
Union resistance to charters isn't predicated on an end to the union's autonomy but an end to the existence of teacher's unions.

Not that charter laws contain prohibitions on the organization of charter school teachers - they couldn't - but organization of a local is a numbers game and individual schools are just too small to be worth organizing and maintaining as independent bargaining units.

On a visceral level union officials, and many members, realize that charters, by empowering parents reduce the power of the union.

If a union organizes a school and protects the inevitable lousy teachers parents can resolve the problem of having their children subject to lousy teachers by finding another school. If enough parents make that choice the unionized school ceases to exist. The current state of affairs, wherein parents are rendered largely powerless is much more to the liking of union officials and members.

So TrueFeminist's silly assertion that charter schools aren't accountable is shown to be without validity due to the urgent, daily accountability of charters to the parents who entrust their children to the school.
You fail to see the wolf in sheep's clothing - that charter schools are non-elected, therefore the government may unaccountably award tax-payer funds to their school of choice. We need to be moving away from government control, not rushing into it.
Marcus: You answered your own question:

"But their [charter] autonomy threatens the teachers’ unions and others who benefit from the restrictions that govern the traditional public school sector."

There has never been a good argument against charter schools, but since these schools are not wanted by the teachers union, and since the teachers union pays off Democratic politicians with political donations, the union will get what it wants - no or few charter schools. The only way to change this would be to prohibit the teachers union from making donations to candidates or parties - but the Democrats won't do this, even though it would prevent corruption. (see practically every comment I've written on the Democratic Party).

Your argument is logical,it takes into consideration the interests of the children, but it is politically naive. Once a Democrat is back in the mayor's office the days of charter schools will be numbered. Maybe if the parents of present and former students rose up in support - but even that won't be enough, since the union has tapped into taxpayer dollars to fund its political efforts (corruption by any other name).

And that's the way it will go - the union will win, children will lose, but what do children or education matter to the teachers union?

Better to get out while you can - there is a storm coming to the City, and it is a Democratic Mayor.
Thank you Kelly for your entry! Crying my eyes out right now!
Let the people be heard and fight for integrity, a system that our
children can truly learn from.

The UFT is fighting for a raise and back pay! Are you kidding me how about representing your talented educators and fighting for a way to retain effective teachers in the classroom. Helping the system get rid of passionate teachers that are making a difference is ridiculous. You're not doing your job and everybody will see the truth in the near future,

CFN "Children First Network", i'm sorry to inform you but in regards to NYC public schools and your role, IT"S NOT ABOUT CHILDREN FIRST !

Sharon Maclise,
Thank you for your response and I'm sorry to hear that you left the profession of teaching. Unlike you, I guess I've been walking around with blinders on because it's only now that I've been able to see the real ugliness behind the NYC public school system and the
UFT. Both systems are the cause of our schools demise.

Governor Cuomo recently announced his determination to clean up
all the corruption surrounding the state of NY, I wish him luck and I hope the NYCDOE and the UFT are part of his investigation.

Currently, if you're a teacher or an administrator and try to report wrongful acts you've witnessed in your school and/ or classroom you become the target for 3020 charges and are automatically fired. That corrupt process has to be revealed to the public plus the individuals who are abusing it.

I know a few teachers who left the DOE and went charter and they are very happy! I wished you would have exhausted all of your options before leaving the profession of teaching. Too many inner city schools are loosing good teachers because we represent a minority and want to make a difference, while the current leaders want to keep everything the same. It's their way or no way!

People are in denial of how poor teacher retention is killing our schools and hope for progress. My current principal fires 50% of his staff every year. He simply ask you to leave and tells you if you come back next year he will make life difficult for you. In other words he will create a file of mistruths and present you with 3020 charges. Since the majority of his staff are new teachers, they just pack up and leave. It doesn't matter if you're a good teacher, if you speak out or have a difference of opinion pertaining to the way the school is run, you become a target and are ask to leave. While this sick secret and attempt to rid the system of tenured teachers is affecting and hurting many innocent people and their families, I'm the first at this new small school to undergo this process and I have no intentions of being pushed out without a fight!

i have a history of success with passing test scores and changing the trajectory of many children who I taught while they were incarcerated. Commenting on the mismanagement of said children in their "new general education environment", is my crime for being fired! Wanting to help the misunderstood angry child is my crime!

ED and special education students are not wanted in the new general ed schools because their performance makes the new schools look bad. So they get pushed out of the schools and referred to transfers school or the child just quits and becomes another drop out statistics. While I tried to request the opportunity to work with the major subgroups that were failing at my school, I was denied the opportunity to help. You see, it was more important that the principal place all his effort in building a case against me than using my expertise to help our students. Bottom line decision being made in our city schools are not to benefit the children. The superintendents for our school districts need to obtain control over our schools again. Too many principals and AP's with no experience are using their new found power for unethical purposes.

Again I'm not aware of the school cultures of charters, so these comments are not directed at them. From the pictures i've seen and the articles I've read, many of the charters have incorporated character ed, conflict resolution and teach the negative effects of bullying, which are instructions I advocate for and have delivered to my students in the past. Supposedly, the charter schools know how to teach the whole child.

The current CCT/ICT set up in NYC general education school system is weak and not working. Also having new administrators with little if no classroom experience, along with new inexperienced teachers lead schools with high rates of poor performing students is ridiculous.

As a special education teacher I will be the first to tell you that special education students need structure and consistency.
They will not succeed with new teachers every year. New teachers coming in to assist Sophomores, Juniors and Seniors not to mention our persistently failing population will have to relearn low functioning student's deficits and strengths all over again while your old teacher that left already knows the child's capacity and could've continued where instruction left off the prior year. (New teachers are also learning how to teach!!) so why give them our students that are failing the most? They need help from experienced teachers!

The revolving door this school (and others) have created, developed a school cycle of pervasive failure. You are also giving the students an opportunity and reason to act out behaviorally with new teachers. Servicing these children require that relationships be built between students and teachers and that's not being allowed as long as NYC teachers transfer to other schools and/ or leave the profession. Sorry, I didn't mean to rattle on so much I have allot on my mind these days and when you stated that you left the profession, it kind of hit me in a soft spot.

Thank you for sharing and good luck!


This is a great article, thank you so much for writing it. As a parent of a charter school scholar in the South Bronx, I have nothing but appreciation for the hard work our teachers, staff and parents put forth to give our children an amazing education. Unfortunately many of the mayoral candidates have spoken out against charter schools and co-location, the ones that haven't are eerily silent on the matter. The UFT and it's supporters have been ramming misinformation down the throats of the community to rile them up to fight against charter colocations. While not every charter school is a perfect fit for every child, there are many children that benefit from the rigorous and structured environments that many possess. As a community, charter and traditional school parents need to ban together to demand change in the state of the NYC educational standards. If we all were able to work together, instead of fighting these petty fights that are fueled by those that are going to have a monetary loss if the public at large wizens up to their schemes, real change can happen across the board. There are too many amazing teachers lost in the system that would jump at the chance to help our children succeed and excel, if they were just given the chance and not red tape.
As a former high school public school teacher who left the unionized system, many years ago, in disgust at the culture of mediocrity and incompetence it bred I am still amazed at how kids and their futures are batted about like so much political fodder by incompetent and corrupt adults. I went into the real estate business, a very different profession, where only dedication and hard work result in a paycheck. If New York charters are performing best for the only people in the education equation who matter, the students, why in the world would some self-serving politician do anything to cause them to fail?! Incredible!
This article would be better with less spin and more references to justify the author's point of view. It does not smack of being objective or balanced.
I don't think a new mayor is going to interfere with the many new educational initiatives that came about during Bloomberg's era. The creation of charter schools allowed more obtains for parents to educate
their children and that is a good thing. Before charters you had private,
Catholic and public schools. Charters just extended the venue. I didn't become a teacher just for tenure, in fact I don't even know when it was awarded to me. I transferred to another school after my first two years of
teaching and I don't think I got it after one year at the new school. I saw it
documented on my end of the year rating sheet after another two years of working at the new school. I didn't receive a letter, nor did i get any congratulations. So, the fact that charter schools don't follow the union mandates really doesn't matter to me. What I care about more is working for a school that has a positive school culture with a supportive administration. After eight years of teaching the amount of dysfunctional situations i've witnessed in public schools has been overwhelming. I don't know what the culture of charter schools are like, but I hope their allot better than what i've seen in the public schools. What's lacking in the school I work for is ethical behavior and integrity on the part of my leaders.
I don't understand how so much corruption can exist in a field that services children. If charter schools are places of professionalism that respect and support their teachers, staff, students and promote teamwork, than good luck and I hope to see more in the future.
Where can I find your research on the impact of losing students to charter schools on remaining students? I would love to read. Thanks for the great article.