In defending against these cost comparisons public school systems claim that they have to educate all children, but charter and parochial schools do not. In fact, if a “special education” child applies to a charter school, they cannot be denied admission, and the “special education” funding appropriate for that child follows the child to the charter school.Many parochial schools accept children who are (or would be), classified as “special education” and address the child’s needs within their existing budgets. A report by the New Jersey Charter Public Schools Association indicates that “Most charter schools actively recruit children in need of opportunity.Team Academy Charter School, Newark, knocks on doors at public housing projects and in some of Newark’s most distressed neighborhoods and delivers enrollment packets directly to families, making it very easy for families to enroll their children.” The end results of these efforts is that “charter schools are actually serving a larger percentage of at-risk students (defined as children qualifying for free- or reduced-price lunch) than the traditional school district, suggesting that they reach students who are in even greater need.”7 [emphasis mine]The footnote directs to a broken link at the NJ Charter Schools Association website. Could it be they pulled it down because the notion that charter schools serve more at risk kids is completely and totally contradicted by the data!?!
The basis for these beliefs is crystal clear. The Crawford boys begin there school day with a heavy police presence in and around the school resembling more of a prison environment than a learning community. Once inside the classroom, the Crawford boys see students sleeping in class or being threatened in the halls. They see good students being mocked and made out as betrayers of their culture. Expectations here are low for the Crawford boys.
In a state that prides itself on being highly diverse, the school is almost entirely African American with many from the housing projects that feed into the school. The vast majority of these children are eligible for free or reduced price lunch due to family income levels.
The Crawford boys see lives routinely destroyed in the neighborhoods surrounding the school because of AIDS, gangs, violence and drugs. The effects of poverty also take their tolls on physical and mental health. Many students come from single parent households like the Crawford boys whose father is now suffering from serious health problems himself.
In this neighborhood, role models for education are hard to come by. As a result, many students do not see the need to graduate from high school or to go on to college. Many will end up dead or addicted or unemployed and become part of the numbers that make up the call to action established previously in this report.This is, of course incredibly sad and unacceptable. I just want to know...
Shouldn't these problems - which are completely out of the control of Newark's teachers - be taken into account when evaluating their performance?
And do you really think a teacher (or a student) in wealthy communities like Chatham or Millburn should be judged by the same standards?
Some day, we'll have an adult conversation about this. We'll talk about the price paid for tracking kids in urban schools vs. the benefits. We'll wrestle with the fact that we already have segregation today in our schools - segregation by district. We'll talk about how charters and vouchers are really more about the cohort a child learns with than anything.