Posts tagged "Michael Duffy"
August 20, 2012
Michael Duffy‘s nascent plans to open a charter school on Governor’s Island have already hit one snag: parent opposition from the nearby Urban Assembly Harbor School, the only school on the island.
Most school space-sharing showdowns begin with worries about cramped buildings and constraints on cafeteria and gym use. But the main concerns held by the parents opposing Duffy’s proposal for the Great Oaks Charter School are the possible cultural differences that could arrise if the grades 6 through 12 school is approved to open in the building next door.
The Harbor school is a marine science-themed Career and Technical Education High School with a state-of-the-art building and a $4 million technology center built with public and private donations. It moved to Governor’s Island in 2010, after years in Bushwick, to have better access to the harbor, where various maritime classes and events are held.
The move was costly, requiring millions of dollars from the city and private fundraising from the Harbor School’s founders to renovate an unused island building. But the school became one emblem of the city’s efforts to breathe new life into the island. It also raised the possibility of new space for the popular but crowded District 2.
Duffy, who formerly oversaw the city’s charter schools office, saw an opportunity to follow the Harbor School’s lead. He also thought the location, with the Statue of Liberty in view, would lend symbolic weight to the school’s aim to have an enrollment of at least 25 percent ELL students, who would have seats reserved in the admissions lottery. (more…)
July 24, 2012
Michael Duffy remembers the moment he decided City Council Speaker Christine Quinn was his pick for mayor.
It was in the summer of 2011, at an informal lunch with community leaders that Duffy attended. Duffy, who formerly oversaw the city’s charter schools office, said Quinn gave her unqualified support for the controversial practice of giving charter schools free space in public schools.
“She went right to the issue and said that charters couldn’t grow in the way that they have been able to without co-location and that’s why she thought it was a good policy,” Duffy said last week.
Duffy, now the managing director at Victory Education Partners, went on to contribute $1,250 to Quinn’s campaign and has helped her raise thousands more from charter school leaders.
Most of those contributions came in 2011, however. Donors from the education world largely sat out of mayoral fundraising activities over the past six months, according to campaign filings released last week.
Duffy, who is planning to open a charter school in New York City in 2013, contributed $250 to Quinn this year. The small donation made him one of the only charter school leaders to give to any prospective mayoral campaign so far in 2012.
“Folks are all over the map in terms of their views of the mayoral candidates,” said Joe Williams, executive director of Democrats for Education Reform, a political action committee that supports candidates who favor the expansion of charter schools. (more…)
January 11, 2010
Charter schools could soon have one single “common application,” under a deal hatched today by the three bodies that oversee the state’s charter schools, a Department of Education official confirmed.
Right now, families apply by filling out separate forms for each charter school that enter their children into separate lotteries. Under the new process, the city will create one common application, accepted by all schools, but keep lotteries separate.
The change will answer critics’ charge that the current process, with its overwhelming paperwork, is so complicated that it discourages all but the most motivated parents and effectively screens out needy students. The introduction of a common application does not address a second demand from critics, including the teachers union — that the lotteries also be streamlined.
Michael Duffy, the head of the city’s charter schools, said the city’s goal was “to widen the access for families” to charter schools. Duffy previously spearheaded a push to increase recruitment by charter schools, and said that the new common application should help charters reach out to groups of students, including those learning English, that charter recruiters often miss.
Duffy told me about the plans today by phone, just after a meeting with representatives from the State University of New York and Board of Regents charter authorizers, who Duffy said agreed to join the city in using the new application.
Their decision comes just after a group for charter school parents announced its own effort to streamline the admission process. (more…)
October 19, 2009
Opportunity Charter School in Harlem is a rare species in the charter school movement.
Its student body is roughly half general education students and half students with learning disabilities. The two groups learn in classes side by side, following the “inclusion” model. And year after year, students entering the school have some of the lowest test scores in the city — a distinction that’s become a point of pride.
“Lowest achieving kids in New York City. Bottom 10 percent,” Opportunity’s assistant principal, Brett Fazio, said in an interview, with the same delight other school administrators reserve for science fair champions.
But the point of Opportunity, as CEO Leonard Goldberg dreamed it up when he was an administrator at a residential school five years ago, is to take the least and make them champions.
That hasn’t been an easy task and as a result, Goldberg’s school is in trouble. In part, this is because it’s a charter school, subject to the demands of the charter school ultimatum: set your standards high and meet them, or else.
At the same time that the combined middle and high school is preparing its first twelfth grade class for graduation, the city has put the school on probation. Opportunity has one year to improve its test scores or it will lose its charter, something that’s rarely happened among the city’s charter schools. (more…)
January 20, 2009
Students from 34 city public schools and and an influx of tearful well-wishers — including some members of the New York Guard, a family that traveled to Harlem from New Jersey, and city charter school lobbyists — filled the enormous Harlem Armory this morning to watch Barack Obama’s inauguration on three giant television screens.
Just before noon, some children squirmed while students and teachers spoke at a dais. Others sank into their seats and nodded quietly to the iPod music plugged into their ears. But when the CNN announcer declared that, although he had not yet been sworn in, Obama was now officially president, even the too-cool-for-school students stood up to scream. When he took the oath of office, children jumped up and down, grinning, and waved American flags. Adults sitting on the sidelines wiped tears from their eyes.
One former sloucher, Douglas Noble, a 14-year-old eighth-grader at KAPPA II, a middle school in East Harlem, had drawn a picture of Obama on a posterboard and written the words “YES, WE, CAN” at the top. “He showed every black person that, even though you’re at the bottom, you can still make it to the top,” Noble said.
He said Obama’s rise changed his life goals. He had wanted to be a basketball player, but now he’s set his sights on engineering. “Everybody wants to be a basketball player, but I want to be something that’s harder,” he said. “A basketball player, all you have to know how to do is dribble and shoot. An engineer, you have to know a lot more.”
Noble, who wore a hooded sweatshirt and a Yankees t-shirt, sat down for most of the day’s events, even as other students danced around excitedly, but he pushed his chair back and stood when Obama took the oath of office. “I’m showing my respect to Obama for making it,” he said.
The Democracy Prep charter school, a three-year-old middle school in Harlem which will extend into high school next year, organized the event, coming up with the idea of a party in their own neighborhood after the school’s plans to travel to Washington, D.C., for the inauguration didn’t transpire. A group of about 25 students sat on an inauguration committee that planned the alternative event. (A lone student supported John McCain.)
Their Harlem Armory party proved so popular that the entire floor of the Armory today was packed with round tables filled with children. Seats in upstairs bleachers were also filled. Students found blank poster boards and markers at their tables, and they filled the posters with pictures congratulating Obama.
Democracy Prep founder Seth Andrew made the event political, too. Next to the markers and posterboard were postcards pre-addressed to President Barack Obama at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. The postcards said:
Dear President Obama:
I want to congratulate you on this historic day and ask you to keep your promise to support more school choice and parent voice in education.
The postcards also included room for students to write their ideas for how to improve America’s schools, and a request: “Please write back if you can.”
The executive director of the New York City Center for Charter School Excellence, James Merriman, sat in the crowd of students alongside Michael Thomas Duffy, who runs the Department of Education’s charter school office. Merriman addressed the crowd, and a press group that works with his organization, Knickerbocker SKD, handled the gaggles of press who converged in Harlem for the event.
“Out of all the choices, I wanted to come to Harlem,” said Cathy Salley, a mother from New Jersey who brought her children to the Armory for the day. “It’s the environment, it’s the camaraderie. This is an experience they’ll never forget.”
There were some moments when the entire room came alive, like when Obama took his oath and students stood up with him and put their hands over their hearts, and when Aretha Franklin sang. One girl, a student at East New York Prep Charter School in Brooklyn, registered a note of disappointment when she realized Obama himself would not be in Harlem. “I was excited because I thought I was going to see Obama,” she said.
The final time the room exploded came via a song the event organizers put on the loudspeaker, after fading out the sound of CNN. It was Natasha Bedingfield singing “Unwritten.”