If know my work at all you're clear that I like to do a lot of the talking. Every once in a while though even I stumble across something that leaves me speechless. And if you know me a little you'll also vouch that there is very little I can't turn into some damned kind of speech. (I was going to blow off that whole kissing the Blarney Stone thing when I saw how many steps you had to walk up and how you have to practically hang upside down but like Bill Belichick I'll do anything to get an edge) But when I read this letter to the Reformy Buffalo Board of Education posted on the Facebook I had to read it twice before it could sink in. In this strange new word we inhabit --where a Democrat in the Governor's office just declared war on teachers then proceeded to smirk while the Democrat Speaker of the State Assembly was cuffed and stuffed like a shoplifter-- it makes a kind of kafkaesque sense that the parent of a charter school student has laid out a far more articulate case against charter school hijinks and skullduggery than any of our teacher union brass who currently appear able to sit up and take nourishment.
Look at the statements about keeping Bennett kids on their side of the barrier and far from Tapestry charter School's doorway then close your eyes and ask yourself if a phrase like "Separate but Equal" seems germane to the current situation -- especially since about 1954 when it was deemed that separate is a far cry from equal. I give you Tapestry Charter School parent Andrea B. Nikischer, Ph.D. :
Dear Board Members-
I am parent at Tapestry Charter School and I am very concerned about the ill-conceived plan for Tapestry to take over part of Bennett High School. First, Tapestry administrators lied to parents on December 15, 2014 and stated that they would not be applying for space at Bennett. They have not sought and do not have parental support for such a move. Second, the Tapestry high school principal told me last week in no uncertain terms that if Tapestry does get space at Bennett, the school will not accept any current Bennett students for any reason. That's right- not one Bennett student will be allowed to attend Tapestry High School. Third, Tapestry K-8 test scores and Business First ranking has plummeted since the previous expansion at Tapestry, with only 12% of 4th grade students proficient in math. An additional expansion is likely to have a further negative impact on K-8 outcomes, putting the sustainability of Tapestry in jeopardy. Fourth, Tapestry only had 166 student attendance days in 2013-2014, which is 14 days LESS than BPS. The Charter School Institute issued a remedial order to Tapestry, as they failed to meet the minimum hours of instruction required by law. Tapestry is not providing more school, but rather significantly less. They are currently five days under the requirements for 2014-2015 year and it is likely another formal complaint will be filed regarding an instructional time violation. Fifth, world renowned civil rights expert and scholar Gary Orfield has asked the district to wait for his report on desegregating BPS. The district has been sued for civil rights violations and ignoring the recommendations of a world-leading scholar will not bode well for the district, or most importantly, its students.
Turning Bennett over to charter schools will not help the Bennett students and ignoring Orfield's recommendations will not help any underserved student in the district. Please wait for Orfield's recommendations and please do what is best for the Bennett students- accept the Bennett turn-around plan.
Thank you for your time.
Andrea B. Nikischer, Ph.D.
Get all that? In another rare gesture I was able to crank out a three lettered comment under this note as it appeared on FB. I wrote WOW. Since I am not a paid in-service hack I'll eschew their favorite pedagogical maneuver of giving you a handout then reading through it line by line to make sure you aren't texting, sudokuing or daydreaming. Rather, I will seize on Dr. Nikischer's opening point, namely that the powers that be at Tapestry, like so many of our amusing friends from the Ed Reform class figured lying to parents would be their best opening move. And again I ask, if charters are as chockfull of excellence, grit and rigor as we are always told, why the hell do the people running them tell so damned many lies? Ironic too that these places of gritty and rigorous excellence are being spanked for slacking by their own regulatory commission. They can't even teach as many days of the school calendar as those "failing schools" we keep hearing decried in Buffalo? They have already been censured once at Tapestry for not going hard enough in the paint and they are on pace to be outrigored, outgritted and outexcellenced by that "failing School district in Buffalo" that our quintuple bypass bar exam Governor likes to bray about. I'll say it again. WOW.
What Say You Accountability Jim Sampson, Leisure Class Larry and Carl the Churl Paladino?
What say you?