Posts tagged "charter school"
June 10, 2013
When the speech pathologist at Neighborhood Charter School of Harlem told her class they would be playing a game called “Pop-Up Pirate,” one student was not happy. He began to whine loudly and another teacher in the room quickly interjected.
“Lucas, can you help us fix this problem?” the teacher asked the student. “Because I’m thinking it’s just a glitch.”
A glitch is the most minor degree of difficulty, according to a chart titled, “How Big is My Problem?” posted in all of the year-old school’s classrooms. It aims to help students understand that some scenarios, such as not getting called on, are less worth getting upset over than other problems, like an earthquake.
This technique of managing behavior is useful for all young children, but it is especially important at Neighborhood Charter, where many students have Autism Spectrum Disorder. (more…)
August 3, 2012
For the city’s charter sector, the task of building better leaders begins with self-reflection.
The project of understanding what makes a good leader — particularly for charter schools, which have some of the highest principal turnover rates — is what consumes the 20-odd educators who gathered at the New York City Charter School Center this week to kick off the sixth year of its leadership training program.
When they return to their schools later this month, the educators will face diverse challenges. One pair comes from a school that has nearly doubled in size faster than expected due to make up a budget shortfall. Another is from a rare standalone school serving kindergarten through 12th graders, which will be preparing its first cohort of students to graduate and apply to college next year.
But on a recent morning, all of the participants were focused on the same question as Heidi Brooks, a professor from the Yale University School of Management, talked them through a platitude-heavy presentation about identifying leadership qualities.
“How would you describe yourself as a leader? How do you describe a great leader?” Brooks asked the group, then began taking down their answers until ink filled a sheet of poster paper.
“Positive,” “self-aware,” and “systems-aware” topped the list of traits. (more…)
June 22, 2012
A Harlem realtor known for founding a controversial social club and playing a role in a high-profile loan dispute is now entering the world of charter school politics.
Thomas Lopez-Pierre, a charter school parent, thinks Harlem’s political leaders don’t sufficiently support the charter schools that dot their districts. So he has formed a political action committee to help finance candidates who would.
The committee, called the Harlem Charter School Parents PAC, made its debut this week in a letter to charter school advocates outlining its political goals: to raise $250,000 over the next year to support candidates in Harlem’s three 2012 City Council races and local Democratic Party district leader races. The group also said it would find volunteers to help those candidates get out the vote.
Lopez-Pierre, whose son is finishing first grade at Harlem’s New York French American Charter School, said he and two other parents aim to create a new unified voice for parents in a community that has served as the front line of the political wars over charter school expansion. (Lopez-Pierre declined to name the other parents but said their children attend Harlem Children’s Zone’s Promise Academy and one of the Harlem Success Academy charter schools.)
“Elected officials only respond to two things: votes and money. Our goal is to elect officials that support charter schools,” he said. “My son is in first grade, and he’s going to be in a charter school for at least 10 years. This is not about an election cycle. It’s about transforming Harlem and expanding school choice.” (more…)
April 4, 2011
After wrestling down a unionization attempt and struggling with academic performance, a Brooklyn KIPP school is bringing in a new principal and letting go of teachers.
Concerns about high teacher turnover surfaced at the KIPP AMP (Knowledge is Power Program: Always Mentally Prepared) school in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, two years. The concerns were the driving force behind teachers’ decision to join the teachers union against the will of the school’s board. A year later teachers opted out of union membership, kicking off a prolonged fight in which the United Federation of Teachers accused KIPP of intimidating teachers who wanted to unionize.
Now, the school could experience what teachers initially feared: turnover and instability. It’s unclear how many teachers will lose their jobs.
A teacher at the school said today that the school’s leadership has informed most of its teachers that they will not have jobs next year.
KIPP co-founder David Levin, who is also the superintendent of KIPP’s New York schools, said that claims that the majority of KIPP AMP teachers would lose their jobs were incorrect. He would not say how many staff members had been asked to leave the school. (more…)
March 30, 2009
One confusing point in the ongoing saga between the KIPP charter schools and the city teachers union is exactly how many KIPP teachers actually want to belong to the union.
While 16 teachers at the KIPP AMP school in Brooklyn submitted cards to the state labor board saying they want to join the United Federation of Teachers, at least one of those teachers changed her mind after submitting the card, and teachers at two other KIPP schools the union has tried to represent are resisting the push. Yoav Gonen described the union’s effort at those schools as “meddling” in today‘s New York Post.
But add at least one more person to the ranks of KIPP teachers who are actively seeking union help: A staff member on the payroll of KIPP Academy, one of the original KIPP schools, who turned to the union after the charter school network allegedly decided to move him to a new school and dock his pay.
The teacher detailed his complaint in a January letter asking KIPP Academy’s principal, Blanca Ruiz, for a meeting where he would be represented by a UFT official. The union sent me the letter but whited out the name of the teacher who filed the grievance, and the union did not make him available for an interview. (more…)
February 23, 2009
In its campaign to unionize a KIPP charter school in Brooklyn, the national American Federation of Teachers union has a new target: other teachers in the wide KIPP network. The AFT today reached out to KIPP teachers from San Jose to D.C. to Boston, asking them to join an e-mail campaign to urge the charter network’s co-founders to recognize the union.
The saga began earlier this year, when 15 teachers at the Brooklyn school, called KIPP AMP, told school officials that they want to form a union with the help of the local United Federation of Teachers. They said a union would help them feel more secure in their jobs and have a stronger say in building their school.
KIPP leaders, who have traditionally touted their freedom from teachers unions as a strength, because it allows them to hire and fire as they please, could have recognized the union and worked with it. Instead, they have hedged — and even indicated they might fight back against the teachers or drop their affiliation with the Brooklyn school. A state labor board is now considering the teachers’ petitions. (And the group of teachers, meanwhile, has swelled to 16 from 15.)
The fliers sent today ask KIPP teachers to send e-mail messages to KIPP’s co-founders, Dave Levin and Mike Feinberg, asking them to recognize the union — and offer teachers tips on how they could form a union themselves. Titled “BE NICE,” a riff on the KIPP motto, “Work Hard. Be Nice,” the fliers narrate the story of how Levin and Feinberg founded KIPP 14 years ago. “They put good ideas together with hard work and a relentless drive,” the flier says. “They also worked for supportive administrators who gave Dave and Mike the power they wanted to start a new program.”
The flier goes on:
Today in Brooklyn, a dedicated group of KIPP teachers and parents want the same thing and they’re forming a union and PTA to have a stronger voice. They’re asking for the power to add their own knowledge to the program and to sustain the school’s success.
Full flier is below the jump. (more…)
February 9, 2009
The mayor’s plan to save endangered Catholic schools by helping them become charter schools reminds me of a school I visited a year and a half ago, the Hellenic Classical Charter School in Brooklyn. Like the Catholic charters will, Hellenic emerged, indirectly, from a struggling parochial school, Soterios Ellenas. Soterios Ellenas had been tied directly to a Greek Orthodox church next door.
But as longtime members moved away to New Jersey, Staten Island, and other suburbs, the school struggled financially. Father Damaskinos Ganas, the priest at the church, estimated to the school’s annual deficit at $350,000 a year.
Hellenic officials, led by the lawyer Charles Capatanakis, who had served on Soterios Ellenas’ board and is now the board chair of Hellenic, took pains to separate the charter school they created from the parochial school that is being phased out. They strenuously maintained that had not converted Soterios Ellenas into a charter school. They refused admission to many families who attended the parochial school and erected walls between their space and religious areas. A majority of their students are not Greek.
But, as I reported then for the New York Sun, when I last visited, some overlaps remained:
The school’s relationship with a Greek parochial school has been even more polarizing, nearly jeopardizing Hellenic’s charter application in 2004. The school, Soterios Ellenas, shares the building with Hellenic, and several students and teachers who had been at the parochial school have transferred to the charter school. Soterios Ellenas’s priest, Father Damaskinos Ganas, has no formal relationship with Hellenic, but educators there refer to him as Hellenic’s “spiritual leader”; on a recent visit students waved enthusiastically when he passed them in the hall.
January 16, 2009
After a rocky journey marked by allegations of dystopianism and favoritism and almost too many principals to count, the charter school founded by the millionaire Courtney Ross is moving out of Tweed Courthouse and into a home of its own. That’s happening despite the fact that there is still no resolution to the cheating scandal that hit Ross Global Academy charter school last year, when its principal was pushed out after being investigated for tampering with tests.
Next year, Ross Global Academy charter school will move to a new East Village space, which it will share with the progressive East Side Community High School. Another small high school, the Urban Assembly School of Business for Young Women, is leaving the building for its own new space, at an office building in Lower Manhattan.
A person at Urban Assembly today told me the school is excited to get a new space. “It’s very crowded here,” the person said. “We were supposed to be here for one school year, and it’s already four.”
Ross expects to have more students next year, 384 up from 316 this year, Department of Education spokesman Will Havemann said.
In Ross’s place, two new elementary schools are starting off with kindergarten classes in the basement of Tweed next year. They are eventually scheduled to move into larger spaces now under construction. Downtown Express has a profile of the new schools.
December 18, 2008
Teacher-blogger Mildly Melancholy notices a trend at her charter school:
knitting is infecting the grade like the chickenpox! All kinds of kids are interested, and many of them carry it around with them and work on it in downtime. It’s kind of freaking awesome. Even kids that aren’t part of the official club are knitting!
Is it strange that these urban preteen girls and boys are LOVING a traditional domestic craft that, at least on flickr, is favored by upper-middle-class white women? I don’t know and I don’t care, I’m just glad.
December 16, 2008
A commenter named Scott raised readers’ eyebrows by declaring that Obama’s choice for education secretary, Arne Duncan, doesn’t use a computer. Scott added, intriguingly, that:
“His secretary prints out the emails he receives, he writes the response and the secretary responds. The man literally does not know how to use a computer.”
Not exactly, according to two spokesmen I just talked to at the Chicago public schools headquarters. It is true, they said, that Duncan sometimes has his assistant, a woman named Maribel, print out his e-mail messages for him. But he does have a computer, and he sometimes reads his own e-mail with it. He also carries a Blackberry.
Said spokesman Mike Vaughn:
“He’s out at schools all the time, meeting with principals and meeting with administrators, meeting with kids and teachers, various meetings throughout the city. He does not spend a whole lot of time at his desk. But there are times when he sits at his desk and reads his emails, there’s times that he responds to them with Maribel, there’s times that he responds with his Blackberry.”
Another spokesman, Malon Edwards, said Duncan has championed bringing technology to education. (more…)