Buffalo charters

Buffalo teachers are trying to hold back a “rising tide” of charter competition, writes Donn Esmonde in the Buffalo News.

Charter schools are here and they are not going away, for a lot of reasons.

They let teachers try new ways to help kids who need help the most. They give school choice to parents who can’t afford the car and house needed for suburban entry and who can’t foot a private school bill. Those parents don’t think charters “steal” money from the district. They think that education dollars should follow their choices and their kids, not automatically feed a bureaucracy.

The district’s non-charter schools close at 3; otherwise custodians get paid overtime.

At Pinnacle, a charter elementary school steps from downtown, the school day – because no custodian demands overtime – ends at 5 o’clock. Every kid gets art, music, gym and foreign language. Summer vacation lasts only a month, so kids forget less. There’s a full-time nurse and counselor, and no class has more than 20 kids.

Pinnacle manages to do it on less money per student than conventional public schools.

A Buffalo school board member pushing a moratorium on district-sponsored charters has given up.

Via Eduwonk.

About Joanne

Comments

  1. Mad Scientist says:

    This is what I have been screaming about. However, if you want something else to scream about, please check yesterday’s Buffalo News.

    It seems the Operating Engineers (i.e., maintenance workers) get a budget that they do not have to account for. Anything unspent at the end of the year goes into their pockets. Last year, it amounted to some $34,000 per person. This practice dates back to the Civil War.

    And they wonder why Buffalo has a fiscal control board.

  2. mike from oregon says:

    MS –

    I don’t blame you for your outrage, but I don’t blame the ‘maintenance engineers’ either. The ones to blame is the school board, or whoever negotiated the contract with the maintenance engineers. It should be nipped in the bud, but it can only be done at the negotiating table (unless you are smart enough to sack the union).

    I so happy to see the success of the charters in Buffalo; I only hope to see more success stories like that and fewer failures like happened in California. However, the good news is that when the charters (the one big company) in California failed – it wasn’t left to linger on and on and on like the failing public schools are left to do.

  3. Mike in Texas says:

    And all these problems are caused by teachers HOW?

    Joanne’s opening sentence is an attack on the Buffalo city teachers, but if you read this article its the administrators (and probably some politicians) who are ruining that school system. The teachers are only guilty of picketing against the wrong group. Of course, if they picketed against the administration they’d probably be canned.

  4. Mad Scientist says:

    MiT, do you ever get tired of getting things wrong?

    If you lived in this area, you would know what the teacher’s union (one where you must be a resident of the city of Buffalo and one where you must join to be able to work) has been fighting against charters since they were allowed by the state legislature.

    If you lived in this area, you would know that both the teacher’s union and the admnistrator’s union encouraged a boycott of a district-wide fundraising event for field trips because a small fraction of the money raised would go to charter schools?

    If you lived in this area, you would know that students from one charter school in the area were invited to perform in a musical performance. When they arrived, the organized told them they could not play because they were from a charter school.

    If you were in this area, you would know that the parents and the schoold board are the ones fighting for charters. The Teacher’s and administrator’s unions are fighting against them.

    So, MiT, you would be wise to follow Mark Twain’s advice: “Better to keep your mouth shut and be thought a fool, rather than to open it and prove it.”

  5. Mike in Texas wrote:

    And all these problems are caused by teachers HOW?

    Teachers form unions. Unions are primarily interested in securing the best possible deal for their members even to the detriment of the organization on which the membership depends. As the political power of the unions increases, accountability decreases. Quality declines and costs escalate.

    Does that explain why the problem is caused by teachers?

  6. Mike in Texas says:

    MiT, do you ever get tired of getting things wrong?

    You have never proven me wrong. IF all you say is true, it was not mentioned in the article. From what I read in the article it sounds like the administrators are the real cause of the problems in this district.

  7. Mike in Texas says:

    As the political power of the unions increases, accountability decreases. Quality declines and costs escalate

    Where is your proof this is fact instead of being nothing more than your opinion?

  8. Mad Scientist says:

    MiT, I didn’t say I proved you wrong, I only asked if you ever get tired of being wrong. All you have to do is to check on any of the things I mentioned, and you would see why you are wrong. But you apparrently have absolutely no capacity for intellectual curiosity. How sad.

    What is amazing is that you have not tried to argue the opposite of the examples I gave. I will take your silence on these issues as implicit agreement. Now what have you to say for yourself?

    It’s not just the Teacher’s union, it’s also the Administrator’s union who are fighting charters tooth and nail. The parents want them and the Board of Ed is going along. The charters are getting results.

    Oh, I guess the evil administrators forced the Teacher’s union to engage in an illegal strike back in 2002?

    Or how about when many kids did not graduate because they could not pass the state-mandated proficiency exams (before NCLB) both the Teacher’s and Administrator’s unions lobbied to lower the standards?

    Mike, please do us all a favor and spare yourself the embarassment of being, yet again, wrong.

  9. Mike in Texas wrote:

    Where is your proof this is fact instead of being nothing more than your opinion?

    Since that response is the equivalent of putting your fingers in your ears and humming loudly, I’ll take it as the ungracious admission of defeat it is.

    As a consolation prize I will let you in on the next step in the dissolution of the public education system.

    The real dynamite in the charter movement isn’t superior education. Heck, they could even be somewhat less effective then district-based schools and still thrive. The single fact that’ll propel charter schools to dominance is that they obviate the district and it’s administrative structure. Charters do just fine without a district administrator, assistant administrator, administrator in charge of safe, clean and healthy schools (really), central staffing, ordering, warehousing, janitorial services, bussing and the rest of it. Charters manage to do all that, quite nicely, all by themselves.

    When it becomes clear that the entire public education establishment above the level of the individual school building can be gotten rid of without any detrimental effect to the education process then it’s goodbye and good riddance.

    You wanna tell my why that’s a bad idea or will you take refuge in the “it’s just your opinion” response?

  10. Mike in Texas says:

    Mad Scientist wrote:

    I will take your silence on these issues as implicit agreement.

    I try only to comment based upon what I know to be true and what the articles Joanne links to say. Unlike some people on this discussion forum, I have enough sense to remain silent on things I know nothing about. Having no knowledge of anything that goes on in the Buffalo area I cannot comment upon such things as you claim. Perhaps if you were to post some links to news articles to enlighten us. Until then how can I take your claim seriously? Others make claims all the time about evil teachers’ unions but never back up their posts with facts and news stories.

    Where is your proof, Mad Scientist?

    As for being wrong, have you proven that either? All I said was that after reading the article it seems to me the mistake the teachers are making is protesting against the wrong people.

  11. Mad Scientist says:

    MiT, your lack of intellectual curiosity and reluctance to do research (i.e., simply searching the Buffalo News archives) is a frightening trait for a teacher.

    I posted the link to the boycott of the fundraiser back when it happened. I posted a link in this thread with respect to the Operating Engineers and pocketing maintenance funds. I posted the link to the story where the charter kids were invited to play at a musical program only to be told upon arrival they they could not perform.

    You did not even bother to check up on my assertion that to teach in the Buffalo city school district you must be a member of the union and you must live in the city.

    I’ll be damned to do the research for one as lazy as you have proven yourself to be.

    Besides, I don’t have to prove you wrong. You do that every time you post your nonsense.

  12. Mike in Texas says:

    I’ll be damned to do the research for one as lazy as you have proven yourself to be.

    Unlike you Mad Scientist I can’t always get on the internet to argue with others. I do have a job to do.

    However, I did find this article about the teachers’ strike you mentioned.

    While the media denounces teachers for their legitimate demands for salary and health benefit improvements, little if anything is reported about the lack of basic supplies, large class sizes, dilapidated buildings, inadequate numbers of aides, nursing staff and counselors.

    About half the membership has waited 10 years to receive any portion of the raises previously awarded by a contract negotiated in 1990-94.

    The nerve of those teachers, demanding pay they’ve been owed for ten years, demanding the school district fix dilapidated building, lower class sizes (which research has proven to increase student achievement), and provide basic supplies and nurse and counselors.

    http://www.wsws.org/articles/2000/sep2000/buff-s09.shtml

    I also checked out Buffalo city schools and did not find any mention of a union membership requirement ANYWHERE on the job information webpage. There was mention of a residency requirement being waived if you are certified in a critical shortage area.

    http://www.buffaloschools.org/pdf/WHY%20TEACH%20FOR%20BPS.pdf

    I also searched their website for one mention of the word “union” and drew a blank.
    I followed your link to the Operating Engineers story and I still ask you, how is this the fault of teachers? In the short amount of time I spend reseaching Buffalo schools I found out they are having serious financial problems and are laying off teachers but yet they give away $2 million a year surpluses. You have yet to show me how this is a teacher’s fault.

    As for the story about the musical performance there is no link provided by you in this thread,in this thread,

  13. Mike in Texas wrote:

    The nerve of those teachers, demanding pay they’ve been owed for ten years, demanding the school district fix dilapidated building, lower class sizes (which research has proven to increase student achievement), and provide basic supplies and nurse and counselors.

    When those teachers do more then demand that the school district fix dilapidated buildings, lower class sizes (which research has proven to increase student achievement), and provide basic supplies and nurse and counselors and go out on strike for any of the above, drop us line. Otherwise it’s just posturing and valueless huffing and puffing.

    Oh, and about that smaller class size thing, got any links to the research or is it just your opinion?

  14. Mike in Texas says:

    Here’s one for you that specifically mentions the 1 – 15 teacher ratio found to be effective.

    http://www.aasa.org/publications/sa/1997_10/achilles_side_research.htm

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