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Now will the charter lobby stop boasting that they have the answers to low test scores?
Two charter middle schools run by the Brighter Choice Foundation were closed by the state’s Charter Schools Institute. At one time, reformers claimed that Brighter Choice was “the Holy Grail” of charter schooling. No more.
The two schools–one for boys, one for girls–pleaded for more time, sounding like public schools. They didn’t get it. They will close.
But long-time columnist Fred LeBrun writes:
“I have a sneaking suspicion that money and financing at stake over bricks and mortar are as much of a motivator for keeping those charters alive as is serving the community. Regardless, about 440 students after this academic year may well have to find an alternative school.
“Students, and parents, who had put their hopes in charters, Brighter Choice in particular, now find themselves associated with failed schools as defined by the Charter School Institute.
“It was five years ago that Brighter Choice got into the middle-school business, with fanfare and swagger.
The same year Albany’s first charter school, New Covenant, one of the first in the state, finally gasped its last after 11 years of teetering. The failure of New Covenant was devastating to the city’s minority community, which had invested heart and soul in it.
The leaders of Brighter Choice at the time coldly wrote off New Covenant as exactly the way not to start and run a charter school.
“But now that Brighter Choice has seen its own limitations at the middle- and high-school levels, we are not hearing quite the same bravado anymore.
I’ll get an argument, I know, but I believe that in the long run Albany is not better off for being a heralded laboratory for charters.
“In fact, a word Albany school district spokesman Ron Lesko used a while back about the effect of charters on the school district comes to mind. They’ve been ”destabilizing.” The school district has been left to constantly adjust to the ebb and flow of a transient student population and its resources have been diverted in the name of ”choice.”
“Can we really afford that choice? What has it done for the kids?
“Albany taxpayers have taken a hosing from charters, a redundant school system that adds extra cost to public education a strapped city can’t afford. State aid by percentage has been dropping away and more and more it is the local property taxpayer who supports this vital service to the community. The Albany school district sends more than $35 million a year to charters, and as state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli said, exactly where that money goes is not easy to figure out.
“The state is again at one of those crossroads over public education, with the governor’s unfortunate infatuation with this same charter movement.
For whatever reason, he continues to unfairly beat up traditional public education and those who serve it, and underfunds it to a deplorable degree. If he believes he’s preparing the way for charters as some sort of a rescue option, forget it. We’ve already seen that plan in action.
“Upstate, at least, there is zero reason for giving charters anything more than what they already have. Zero.”