I wrote about this on our blog: NYC Public School Parents: Charter school expansion in NYC: common ground or battleground? http://shar.es/6kX5A
The Gates Foundation has announced grants totaling nearly $25 million for seven cities that signed “compacts” promising their charter schools and district schools will play nice. New York City won $3.7 million of the total.
According to the foundation, the money is meant to encourage teachers from both charter and district schools to share professional development and tools.
“The goal is to support these communities in significantly boosting the number of students enrolled in high-performing schools. These cities understand that opening the lines of communication and sharing best practices across schools are an effective way to do that,” said Vicki Phillips, director of education, College Ready, at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “They have moved beyond the question of whether charters or district schools are better and are working together to benefit all students in these communities."
What do you think? Has the city school system "moved beyond" this debate? Can teachers and communities at local schools bridge their differences with neighboring charter schools? What would it take to make that happen?
First of all, the "building councils" put together by DOE in all forms of co-locations are, more and more often, dysfunctional - no matter who's co-located with whom. More than two schools in a building is often a recipe for inequality as Principals stake out and claim territory that's actually shared space.
Second, throwing money at this is ludicrous, laughable. When adults decide they can't get along, whether openly or not, they usually don't.
There's nothing wrong with Charter Schools, they just need to find and lease their own buildings. The billions and billions of dollars generated to lobby for Charter Schools, pay for advertising and promoting the Charter School brand, etc. could be spent on leasing buildings/renting space.
Call me a naive idealist, but why would one criticize anyone's attempt to foster collaboration and the sharing of best practices, especially when it's in the spirit of doing what is best for kids. This shouldn't just be about sharing a building. For those of us who have spent our entire careers in education, we relish those moments when someone presents us with a great idea to use in a classroom, or an innovative approach to working with families from diverse communities or new resources on the web to engage with kids. There are plenty of educators who care about the process of teaching and learning AND we accept that there is no end to great ways that we can collaborate to the benefit of the students and families we serve.
It would do all kids good if we put the cyncism and political posturing aside and just think about what is going to work for children, ALL children. When educators, parents and the community sit down together and stop calling each other name, maybe then can we begin to solve some real problems.
It is one thing to share space with an EXISTING school, but quite another to let an undesired and unwanted school co-locate in an existing school the community desires to grow.
If "Citizens of the World Charter Schools," from whom Tara Phillips receives a paycheck, really cared about "fostering collaboration," they would acknowledge the almost universal opposition to their school coming into District 14, and seek a home where their presence won't be detrimental to the neighboring schools.
"Citizens of the World" is trying to co-locate in the ONLY middle school in Greenpoint - within walking distance of four excellent elementary schools that have space for children.
There is no cynicism or political posturing when an entire community comes together under the shared recognition that an additional elementary school in District 14 is not in the best interest of the community. None of the hundreds of parents who joined a lawsuit against the SUNY Charter School authorizers to stop "Citizens of the World" are paid.
The demand for Phillips' not yet existing school has been manufactured and inflated and comes from people with little knowledge of the educational landscape of District 14.
It is ironic that Phillips talks of the community sitting down together, when "Citizens of the World" has repeatedly refused to engage with the community at large or acknowledge the widespread opposition to their presence in District 14.
Creating new schools is CITY PLANNING and must consider the existing landscape of schools and enrollment patterns. When "Citizens of the World" and schools of that ilk ignore and exploit the community they want to live in, it tells more about their experience with sharing and collaborating than any promises they make.
Many of our District 14 elementary schools have great relationships with each other, with more and more parents sharing best practices in their PTAs, Principals sharing best practices between schools, teachers sharing best practices within EXISTING co-located schools, and a well respected superintendent who supports all of our schools.
Schoolbook is a site dedicated to news, data and conversation about schools in New York City.
Tell us what’s going on in your school. You can e-mail us with your tips or documents, or call 646-801-9698 and leave a voice message.
Join the Public Insight Network and help our journalists cover education in the city. Your stories and insights can help us create relevant and distinctive reporting. Join more than 100,000 people and become a trusted source.