Myth: Charter schools are public schools.Truth: “Public”
open to all
members of a community. Charterschools conduct lotteries to select students. They do not accept anystudent who wishes to register during the school year (as public schoolsdo).
Charter schools currently educate less than 3%
of New YorkCity’s children, yet the mayor and chancellor grant them more attentionand autonomy. While the lottery process is allegedly blind, evidenceshows many charter schools "counsel out" students who presentbehavioral challenges or need services such as counseling, ESL, smallclass sizes, occupational or physical therapy. East New York PreparatoryCharter School discharged 48% of their students just before state examslast year. KIPP, Harlem Success Academy, and Harlem Children’s Zone(all NYC charter school chains) have been found guilty of the samepractice.
Public schools do not get rid of students in need.
Parentsmust sign contracts at many charter schools. Contracts may list basicbehavioral and uniform codes, but some include strict requirementsabout volunteer hours, participation in meetings and workshops, andeven agreement to attend Saturday detention sessions if children are lateor misbehave in school. If parents cannot live up to their end of thisbargain, their children will be asked to leave the school. These are notthe practices of public schools. While it would be optimal to haveparents in schools volunteering, to make it a strict mandate infantilizesparents. The great genius of our public school system is that it isinclusive—
regardless of your family’s situation, you are guaranteedaccess to a free education.
Truth: Charter schools are "education corporations"
according tothe NY State Charter Act of 1998. The law exempts charters from stateand local laws, rules, regulations, and policies typically applied to publicand private schools. Should the education of our children be outsourcedto private corporations free of regulation and oversight? Our nation’scurrent financial crisis is due, in part, to corporate free rein.
Truth: Charter schools are not governed democratically
, oftenlimiting the input and voice of parents, students and teachers. To growup as functional members of our democracy, children need to be witnessto and participate in the democratic process. Significant documentationexists about the
charter schools use when itcomes to discipline, conduct and even instruction. Harlem SuccessAcademies' kindergarteners are put through a two-week “boot camp,” tolearn how to walk, sit and eat in silence. Social skills are oftenoverlooked, as charter schools push their students to achieve higher andhigher marks on state-mandated assessments. KIPP schools have beenaccused of micro-managing students and even resorting to publichumiliation as a form of punishment. Meredith Kolonder, of the DailyNews, recently reported on the abusive discipline practices atAchievement First Charter School in Crown Heights, asserting that
20percent of the children are in detention on any given day
. Is thissuccess? Should schools focus on teaching children to do as they aretold, to the exclusion of learning to question, to challenge ideas, andmost importantly, to think for themselves? Most charter schools appearto place high priority on their students meeting the needs of the school(high test scores for good publicity)—an "adult needs before children'sneeds" mentality. What about students' needs?
Myth: Charter schools serve the same student populations as publicschools.Truth
Charter schools serve far fewer
English language learners,special needs students, and those who qualify for free lunch than dopublic schools. Data from the New York State Report Cards and theDepartment of Education itself is quite telling:Data from 2007-2008 PublicSchoolsCharterSchoolsStudents Eligible for Free/Reduced Lunch 75.8% 73.3%Students Eligible for Free Lunch 66.9% 57.6%English Language Learners 14.2% 3.8 %Special Education Students 16.4% 3.8%
The majority of charter schools are located in the city’s poorestneighborhoods (in Harlem, the South Bronx, and parts of Brooklyn),where free lunch averages for public schools are much higher.
Charterschools are NOT educating the same types of students as publicschools.
Percentage of Free Lunch byNeighborhoodPublic Schools CharterSchoolsHarlem 71.5% 60.9%South Bronx 86.5% 61.6%North-Central Brooklyn 80% 54.5%
Most charter schools in New York City are concentrated in blackand Latino neighborhoods. This is not coincidence. Our mayor, formerchancellor Klein and current chancellor Black, have replaced apublically controlled educational system. Education of our black andLatino youth is being outsourced to unregulated, private corporations.
Experienced educators, not corporate managers, are best equippedto understand and address the needs of ALL OF OUR CITY'SCHILDREN.