I will protect your pensions. Nothing about your pension is going to change when I am governor. - Chris Christie, "An Open Letter to the Teachers of NJ" October, 2009

Monday, January 23, 2012

Know Your Charter Reviewers

I always find it funny when reformy types insist that charters are public schools. If they were, you'd think the people who review charter applications would have lots of experience in public education and running public schools.

In New Jersey, you'd be wrong. From NJ Parents Against Gov. Christie's School Budget Cuts [all emphases mine]:
The reviewers' "range of experiences" seems to include very little in the way of education experience, very much in the way of charter advocacy, charter founders, education consultancy, business, administration, etc. In fact, the only teaching experience I found was one student teacher.

IMPORTANT NOTE: THIS INFORMATION IS NOT FACT-CHECKED. I have not independently ascertained that the individuals found in these citations are in fact the same as those listed as external reviewers for the NJ DoE. It would have been really nice if the DoE had offered some actual information about these people, but they didn't.

So here's what I found in an hour of searching: 

 Sulafa Bashir: Program Manager for School Support, New York City Charter School Center, which describes itself this way: “We help new charter schools get started, support existing schools and build community support so that highly effective schools can flourish.”

Natasha Campbell: Founding executive director of Summit Academy Charter School in Brooklyn: “Summit Academy will open with a class of 100 6th-graders in Red Hook where the school's founding executive director, Natasha Campbell, was director of a youth center run by the Police Athletic League.”

Elena Day: From LinkedIn:
Current: Chief Operating Officer at Friends of ROADS Charter Schools
Past: Director of School Support at New York City Charter School Center
Director of School Operations at NYC Charter School Center
Founder at Consulting Services
Vice President, IIG at Morgan Stanley
Vice President, Equity Strategy at Credit Suisse First Boston
Management Consultant at Freeman Associates
Analyst at Barra

Barbara Greene: From LinkedIn:
Operations and Education Management Professional, Greater New York City Area Education Management
Executive Director at AllCare Provider Services, Inc
Senior Director of Educational Initiatives at AllCare Provider Services, Inc
Senior Director of Operations at TheraCare of New York, Inc.

Radhika Parithivel: Not much found, but listed as a special guest at the Bates Area Civic Association in DC: “Accomplished Charter School –  Radhika Parithivel and Camille Morgan. Proposed charter school to open in Ward 5 in August of 2012 to serve grades pre-k through fourth grade.”

Amy Pozmantier: From Citizen Schools, an organization that "partners with middle schools to expand the learning day for children in low-income communities across the country.": “Amy Pozmantier is a second-year Teaching Fellow at the Ivy Hill School in Newark, New Jersey. She grew up in Texas and earned her BA from New York University. Eventually Amy plans to become a teacher, so her work leading a team of 10-15 middle school students gets her lots of hands-on experience. Amy is also the Civic Engagement Lead at Ivy Hill where she recruits and manages volunteers, plans events and engages the larger Newark community in Citizen Schools' work.”
And from LinkedIn:
Current: Student Teacher at Blankenburg Elementary
Past: Teaching Fellow at Citizen Schools

Ray Regimbal: Listed as co-applicant for Accomplish Public Charter School on meeting agenda of Government of the District of Columbia, Advisory Neighborhood Commission 5C. 
There is a person of the same name listed at LinkedIn:
Current: Assistant Director of Undergraduate Affairs, Internships, and Service-Learning at University of Maryland Baltimore County
Past: Undergraduate Student Administration at University of Maryland Baltimore County

-- Tamar Wyschogrod, moderator
Lots of NYC connections; gosh, I forget - where did ACTING Commissioner Cerf work before he came to NJ? Oh, yeah...

You have to wonder just how "independent" this group is. But there's no mistaking they are light on qualifications: no superintendents, no curricular specialists, no school business administrators, no teachers, no professors of education.

Tamar is right to point out the NJDOE should have listed the CVs of these folks as part of the press release, but maybe they decided not to because the "qualifications" of this panel are not particularly impressive. Should a student teacher really be making decisions about charter school approvals?

And should any town or city be forced to take charters approved by these people, whether they want them or not? It's what they're doing right now down in New Orleans, and it's not working out so well.

Local control is a necessary part of ensuring high-quality charters. Because the state - particularly this state at this time - can't be trusted to do the job correctly.

Nice work on this, NJPAGCSBC.

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