Furious parents: Demanding NYC schools that work

by Jony

By  Sam Pirozzolo

In educational conversation, when you mention the words “charter schools,” people tend to either love them or hate them. Unfortunately, either way, the handwriting is on the smart board.

A recent survey found only 46 of 925 high-poverty New York City public schools, where most students are minorities, had even a meager 50 percent passing rate.

That in itself is a big story, but the bigger story here is that of the 46 schools, 23 were charters.

Of course, the United Federation of Teachers and UFT-funded parent groups are screaming foul. They say that charters can be selective in their student population by returning nonperforming students back into the regular school system.

They also complain that charters don’t care for the same number of special-education students as the city’s regular public schools.

Who cares anymore?

The critics of charter schools may have a small point here — but it’s overwhelmed by the bigger picture — the one painted by the constant barrage of article after article reporting secret deals that send sexually-abusive and unsatisfactorily-rated teachers back to the very classrooms where they have already failed their students.

The question is: Are charter schools becoming a better option for many students? The answer is Yes! Parents are no longer willing to lose their children to the streets just because the UFT is crying foul.

This is why parents of both charter and non-charter kids will show up Thursday for the Families for Excellent Schools rally.

A quality education can change a person’s life, and some charter schools are providing a better quality of education. The choice is simple: As a parent, would you want your child to stay in a failing system where about 70 percent of students can’t perform at grade level?

Would you want your child in one of the city’s 371 public schools where at least 90 percent of the students are failing?

It’s getting to the point where parents are finally seeing the public-school system for what is has become: a failure for most students, especially black and Latino students.

Another unfortunate part of this tragedy is the silence of UFT-funded parents groups, like the Coalition for Educational Justice and the Alliance for Quality Education, as well as the Department of Education’s Community Education Councils — not to mention social-justice organizations like the NAACP.

Why exactly aren’t the NAACP’s leaders crying out about the injustice that it is mostly poor black children who aren’t being educated?

Where are the Rev. Al Sharpton and the National Action Network when you need them? Could it be that the UFT has paid for the silence of people who should know better, with hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars in funding?

They may stay quiet, but we won’t. How can any parent stand for the status quo as it exists today? How can the overwhelming failure of the public education system as an entirety not draw outrage from everyone?

Simply put, this it is what we’ve come to expect from our educational system: failure, payoffs, finger-pointing and no reform.

The people at the United Federation of Teachers like to blame anything but their own performance. They have blocked and stymied any and all types of school reform for decades.

But now they have a new problem. As the numbers start to come in, it is being proven that charter schools provide a better education for many students. How can the city’s traditional public schools compete? They can’t.

It’s time to come to the realization that 3020A, the law dealing with teacher-dismissal procedures, has nothing to do with due process, even though the UFT swears that’s what it’s all about. Simply put, bad teachers must be fired to make room for teachers who are competent and innovative.

If the UFT leaders continue to keep their heads in the sand and protect incompetent and sexually abusive teachers, the city schools will continue to suffer and the system will continue to fail — until it’s replaced.

Ask the UFT folks why failure is so rampant, and they’ll likely point at their newest scapegoat — the Common Core.

And they’ll say it’s because parents don’t do their job, it’s because of poverty, it’s because schools aren’t well-funded well . . . it’s because of anything that doesn’t reflect on them.

But it has gotten to the point that the UFT can’t ignore, let alone stop, the success of charter schools. Love them or hate them, parents want them!

If the city Department of Education and the United Federation of Teachers don’t begin to look within themselves for self-improvement, then they’re doomed and they will be replaced.

It’s not all about the money, it is also about quality and job performance. Again, the writing is on the smart board.

Sam Pirozzolo is a Staten Island parent, former seven-year president of Community Education Council 31-Staten Island, vice president of the New York City Parents Union and a plaintiff in the Davids v. New York education-quality and student-safety lawsuit.


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