Longtime readers will recall the controversy over whether the United Federation of Teachers in New York should be allowed to have a few of New York’s coveted charters to run schools. I thought they should and still think that having teachers’ unions run charter schools is a good idea. Skeptics pointed to the poor record of union run charters and the NEA’s disastrous foray into charter schooling.
Well, the UFT charter came up for renewal and there is something for everyone. As close observers know the school had some struggles and still does and as a result the authorizer gave it what amounts to a conditional renewal (pdf). In other words a mixed verdict because of performance and operations issues. Jim Merriman, who also supported the schools at the time, and in fact originally authorized it, has more in a must-read blog post.
Like the Stanford charter school this shows that running great schools in challenging environments is brutally hard work. In both that case and with the UFT school observers assumed, wrongly it turns out, that the schools would be outstanding given all the resources at their disposal. But what’s really discouraging is how little desire there is to learn from schools that are succeeding in these places. In both cases there are schools that are hitting the leather off the ball nearby. And in both cases those schools a more commonly attacked than learned from. The UFT frequently leads the attacks these days.
And before the usual suspects scream that “skimming” is the cause for performance variations, it turns out the UFT charter enrolls fewer free-lunch students, English-language learners, and special education students than surrounding schools. I don’t think that’s because the UFT school is skimming, either, but I assume union will now stop irresponsibly making that claim against other charter schools.
2 Replies to “The UFT Two”
Could you name the other schools nearby that are hitting the leather off the ball? What makes you think there is no desire to learn from them?
If admissions aren’t “skimming” is there selection happening? Address it head on and don’t whine about charters being called out for discriminating and then counter in a useless circular whine.
Why is learning from nearby schools a solution? Although locale must be incredibly important and solutions should be created that way, I have seen no locale interpretation coming from either side of the playing field.