Taking Back America By Taking Back Our Schools
NEW YORK – It’s official: teachers union contracts have a severe impact on student learning.
That’s the lesson many folks are talking away from the recent decision by New York City’s United Federation of Teachers to shutter the K-8 charter school it founded in 2005 to prove the opposite, the New York Times reports.
UFT President Michael Mulgrew, UFT blamed the State University of New York for the failure – alleging the charter school authorizer placed a “narrow focus on test scores” – and touted a “high level of parental satisfaction” at the UFT Charter School, according to the news site.
Then UFT President Rhonda “Randi” Weingarten, now the head of the national American Federation of Teachers, announced to the world in 2005 that the UFT Charter School would “show real, quantifiable student achievement and with those results, finally dispel the misguided and simplistic notion that the union contract is an impediment to success.”
“This past year, 11 percent of the school’s third- through eighth-grade students scored as proficient or better on the state reading tests, compared with 29 percent citywide,” the Times reports.
“Eighteen percent of its students scored as proficient or better on the math test, compared with more than 34 percent citywide.”
The move to close UFT Charter School comes after years of warnings from SUNY over students’ dismal academic performance, most recently in 2013 when the university granted only a two-year extension on the school’s charter with the requirement that it shape up.
It didn’t happen.
Mulgrew pointed at SUNY.
“The UFT charter school outperformed its district in math in grades three and four, and has a higher level of parental satisfaction,” he said, according The Beacon Review. “But a student or a (school) is a lot more than a test score, and SUNY’s narrow focus on state tests has meant that overall our elementary- and middle-(school) benefits have not matched SUNY’s benchmarks.”
James Merriman, CEO of the New York City Charter College Center, pointed at Mulgrew.
“It’s properly recognized by now that the UFT is allergic to actual accountability,” he said, according to The Beacon Review.
“The UFT would not accept even the slightest duty for its abysmal failure.”
Despite Mulgrew’s contention that the school’s test scores weighed to heavily in its demise, a SUNY report shows the school had plenty of other problems, as well.
The report shows the UFT Charter school suffered from excessive turnover, as well as a lack of resources and student disciplinary issues, Capital New York reports.
The Times also highlighted those problems:
Before SUNY renewed its charter in 2013, reviewers said in a report that the school was in poor financial condition, relying on loans from the union to support day-to-day operations, and staff members reported ‘chronic shortages of textbooks and unrepaired equipment.’
The report also noted that while earlier evaluations had indicated that the school was disorderly and unsafe, a new discipline system had resulted in improved safety but also more suspensions, increased attrition and some instances of corporal punishment.
About 50 teachers and 670 students with be displaced by the UFT Charter School closure, but students at the union’s high school will not.
That school, apparently, is graduating more students than other city schools, though a higher percentage are not ready for college, the Times reports.
“According to the high school’s most recent report card from the city, 92 percent of students graduated within four years, well over the citywide average of 68 percent. Only 22 percent of those graduates, however, were considered college-ready, based on their Regents test scores, compared with 33 percent citywide,” according to the news site.