Many charter schools have impressively raised test scores and student acheivement in low-income neighborhoods traditionally served by failing schools. Charter schools (the good and the bad) are innovative. And, with all innovations, come with a handful of critiques.
In an article in The New York Times on June 25th, writer Michael Powell criticized a particular charter school in New York City, Harlem Success Academy 2. The Harlem Success Academy 2 is part of the larger network of Success Academy Charter Schools run by chief executive Eva S. Moskowitz. HSA has had many successes, risen test scores, and created a culture of success for its students. The public school that HSA shares a building with, PS 30, has failed to do this consistently. The two schools have been in conflict over receiving funds for a new playground. Moskowitz believe that the funds, and the playground, rightfully belong to HSA2. After all, that is the school that is achieving, and she is the one who raised the funds.
The article is decent, but it isn't a strikingly new or fascinating article. We have seen these stories before, where charter schools take away from the public school system. What struck me as interesting were the 59 and counting comments written by parents of students at HSA2, donors, community members, and people who genuinely dislike the system of charter schools developing in New York. I encourage you to read the comments. Skip the article; you've read many like it. The comments are genuine.
The majority of the bloggers wrote outcries in support of Moskowitz, and the culture of acheivement that she has created at HSA2. One parent wrote that they didn't have the time to leave a lengthy argument against Powell, because they were too busy helping their student complete the summer packet she wanted to do. Another parent wrote about how her student has developed into a critical thinker and has found their love for learning. Other bloggers did not share the same enthusiasm. They felt left out, angry, and frustrated because their students were not accepted into HSA.
The comments reflected the discussions we had in class about charter schools. Are charter schools a useful reform if they only improve the lives of a handful of students? Isn't it worth it for those students? Or, are charter schools a waste of public funds that could be used to improve the conditions of the public school system? Is there a way to make successful public charter schools accessible for all children? Or, would that diminish the glam factor of charter schools, making them less appealing?
I would love to hear you opinions after reading some of the comments posted by parents of students at HSA2.
Here is the article, and the comments.