The NYC Dads Group constantly looks for ways to root ourselves in the local community as well as participate in enrichment workshops for active dads. We were able to accomplish both last week as we spent an evening with Eva Moskowitz, learning about her proposed plan to open new NYC charter schools on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Steve Senteney shares his reaction from the discussion and Q & A session via this “guest blog” entry…
The other night I had a chance to attend an event organized by the NYC Dads Group where the founder and CEO of the Success Network (the operator of the Harlem Success Charter Schools), Eva Moskowitz came to meet with a dozen involved fathers and share her proposal for a new charter school on the UWS. I thought it was a very interesting, informative, and thought-provoking discussion. Being the dad of a girl who will someday be attending a public elementary school in New York City, it was also very important.
Many of the guys asked questions and she was very open about how she did things and logistics on how NYC charter schools worked and tried to dispel the myths that have been floating around about her schools. She also compared her schools to traditional public schools and explained why her model worked better. To sum up her answer, she does not have to deal with the bureaucracy of the Dept. of Ed or Union contracts that traditional public schools get tangled in within New York City. Moskowitz spoke candidly about her teachers requiring more time to prepare meaningful units and rigorous curriculum (both before the school year and throughout the school week) and she needed the ability to make the hard decisions to hire and fire teachers (and other staff) as she saw fit. If a teacher is not performing up to her high achievement standards or making progress even after taking suggestions and constructive criticism from the administration, they could be replaced. Moskowitz spoke about the significant number of teachers applying for jobs in her charter schools so supply was not an issue. These unique components were the driving force behind increasing student academic achievement so they can get the best education possible.
It was a very interesting session for me. I had read a lot about the charter school debate in the newspapers (good and bad) and had heard public school teachers talk about them. This time I got to hear from a true leader and defender of the charter school movement.
To learn more, read this recent New York Times article, Push for a Charter School on the Upper West Side Meets Fierce Resistance.