Sunday, May 11, 2008

So far, the majority of the posts I've added to this blog have been material I've found on the internet about the controversy over the relative merits of public schools and charter schools, and the background on the PAVE Academy. I haven't written much original material about this yet because the blog started out as a research project; I wanted to learn as much as I could about the controversy and share it with the Red Hook community so we could all form conclusions together.

In selecting the material I've posted, I admit that I have a bias - and it's very much against the movement to promote charter schools in general, but more specifically, it's about not wanting to give up on the idea of an equal-access, truly public and democratic education system for any and every student. Our public school system is far from perfect, and I know that; some charter schools appear to be doing a good job of helping students succeed and excel. What I oppose is the concept of eliminating one type of school system in favor of another; I'm opposed to privatization and moving away from accountability to the public, which is what the charter school system seems to be promoting. So far, I've heard a lot of arguments from the charter school side that their schools are public schools. If they were truly public schools, why do they accept students on a lottery basis instead of open enrollment? This seems to be one of several major inconsistencies.

Another argument put forward by the charter school movement is that they receive less funding than public schools do - I've heard one figure quoted most often, that they receive 70% of the funding that public schools do. I counter this argument with these facts: there are several foundations set up to fund charter schools that are specifically tailored to fund only charter schools, and exclude public schools from applying for and receiving funds. It also appears that here in New York City, despite the enormous budget cuts our schools are facing, charter schools receive a portion of the money still allocated to schools specifically to recruit new students. I have yet to find any mention of funds allocated to public schools to do the same thing, in spite of the pattern of co-siting charter schools within public schools that have low enrollment.

I'll be writing more of my own material - and posting it - from now on.

It's good to see that other organizations are using this blog as a resource despite Spencer Robertson's comment in an email a little while ago that not many people are actually reading it. The web counter shows that at least 150, sometimes closer to 300 people are at least looking at it on a daily basis. It's even begun to show up in the Google Blog alerts for PS15 that I get on a daily basis. I hope others find it useful; the problem PS15 is having is one that many other schools share, and I'd like to hope that one day we can band together and reform the DOE's destructive practices.

"Never underestimate the power of a small, dedicated group of people to change the world; indeed, that is the only thing that ever has." - Margaret Mead

Read my blog, Charter Free PS15 at

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