Wednesday, March 25, 2009

NYC public schools: no success goes unpunished.

An innovative charter school successfully brings quality education to the inner city...
According to state data, Bronx Preparatory Charter School has been outperforming other schools in District 9 by leaps and bounds. The percentage of fifth- through eighth-graders at Prep who meet state requirements in math and reading is more than 22 points higher than the district average.

Additionally, Bronx Prep's preliminary four-year graduation rate in 2008 was 73.1 percent compared to a 2007 citywide high-school graduation rate of 55.8 percent.
So, following up on the very purpose of experimental, innovative charter schools, the city's public education system learns what works from Bronx Prep and then copies it. No wait -- this is the public education system...
[but] high marks might not be enough to keep the Bronx charter school out of hot water.

Trustees on the SUNY Charter Schools Committee are set to vote today on a recommendation to put Bronx Prep on probation for failing to meet state requirements for teacher certification. State records show that between 49 and 64 percent of teachers at the school taught without proper certification between 2004 and 2007...

"SUNY does view putting schools on probation, something generally done for compliance reasons, as a last resort," SUNY spokesperson Cynthia Proctor said. "It's certainly possible for a school to be doing well even if they're violating the [state teaching] provision but, of course, we can't allow that [violation] to happen." ...

... for many parents at the school yesterday, the certification issue took a back seat to how well their kids are performing.

"We don't ask who's certified and who isn't I just know they're doing a good job," said Ingrid James, whose daughter is in the seventh grade.

Jane Hannaway, director of education policy at the Urban Institute a nonpartisan think tank in Washington, DC said the school's results jibe with studies that have found a weak correlation between certification and teacher quality.

"I think the general point is that certification in and of itself doesn't explain a whole lot about teacher effectiveness," she said. [NY Post]
Yesterday the establishment delivered on the threat...
Score one for the teachers union in its battle against kids: Though Bronx Prep Charter School students have chalked up terrific academic results, state officials nonetheless put the school on probation yesterday.

Why? Because a few of its teachers are technically "uncertified." Brilliant.

Talk about missing the forest for the trees. Bronx Prep, which serves 5th- through 12th-graders from predominately poor, minority homes, is a model for city public schools.

And if having a few "uncertified" teachers on board is part of its winning formula, well, how about encouraging other schools to hire a few "uncertifieds," too?

Its 11th-graders scored better, on average, on last year's SATs than kids at every other public high school in the borough, save selective-admission Bronx Science. And get this: 100 percent of Prep's 11th-graders sat for the SAT.

This is clearly one successful school. Yet now, it's officially on "probation," its charter in danger of revocation....

...certification is a club used by advocates of the status quo to beat down competition.

That is to say, yesterday's spectacle basically amounted to New York's education cartel attempting to rid itself of an embarrassing example of its own very visible failure in The Bronx. Yesterday, it moved a step closer toward its goal.

Don't forget: If Bronx Prep's charter is revoked or even if its successful staff is shaken up, the kids will suffer. But it'll be teachers-union honcho Randi Weingarten who'll be smiling. [editorial, NYP]