NY Charter school association comes to the defense of Pedro Noguera
Friday, September 30, 2011
Charter schools have been expanding in New York State almost annually for the last eleven years. They've existed nationally for 20 years, beginning with Minnesota's first charter law in 1991. No matter how successful or accountable charter schools are or become, they will have their opponents.
That is because charter schools constitute competition in public education sector, especially when money or facility space changes hands from the school district to the independent charter. The space wars in New York City were long preceded by what has continued in school districts outside the city, that is, confrontations over public money following a student to a charter school.
"Miseducation" Panel Jeers!
Anything that challenges the status quo will have enemies. The latest display of this was encountered this week by SUNY Trustee Pedro Noguera, the chairman of the SUNY Board's committee on charter schools. Dr. Noguera was a panelist at an event called "Miseducation Nation" sponsored by the anti-education reform group called Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting ("FAIR"), which attempted to counter the "Education Nation" series by NBC and other the supposed positive press on education reform.
The panel included representatives from several education groups, including the subtlely-named "Class Size Matters," along with that lovable historian, Diane Ravitch, who has been making her living by trashing everything she once believed about education.
Talk about walking into a lion's den.
Press Coverage on Ed Reform is Balanced
What is so out of sync about an event like this and sponsored by a group like "FAIR," is the idea that somehow education reform issues get too much favorable press. Spend a few days on the Gotham Schools website, which does a nice job of compiling education stories, and one would realize the nonsense of that view. While charter schools get plenty of good press, they also get plenty of criticism, too, including from news outlets that are editorially positive. The ubiquitous Dr. Ravitch is constantly in the media and she attacks charters and education reform every time her lips move. She's merely one of many examples, including the New York City United Federation of Teachers and its echo-chamber support groups, which also have no difficulty getting media attention for their anti-reform agenda.
When a charter school transforms the lives of students for the better, that's a great human interest story. When thousands of parents enroll their children in lotteries where they end up on waiting lists with thousands of others - that's news. When charters outperform district schools, that's somewhat newsworthy, along with the occurrence of a charter school closure for low performance. On the other side, when the UFT sponsors rallies designed to block charters from district space, there is no shortage of news coverage; and when a charter school has a blow up about some issue such as a leadership or governance failure, that makes plenty of news as well. It cuts both ways.
It's not the Merits of Charters - but their Existence
I'm not sure what Pedro Noguera expected to accomplish by being a panelist at a FAIR event, and from his own subsequent remarks, it sounds like it was not productive. I give him credit for trying, including standing up for high-performing charters, and for enduring jeers from the audience that continues to rebel against charter competition.
Dr. Noguera is a very conscientious SUNY Trustee who holds certain education views that are consistent with those of many of the same people who have no tolerance for charters, as the panel demonstrated. Yet, this was lost on his detractors in the room. Dr. Noguera obviously believes charters have their place in the larger public system, but his detractors should realize that he's not a rubber stamp for them and is committed to enforcing the law, including ensuring that they serve needy student populations.
As this FAIR event demonstrates, some people will not be mollified by the facts or reassurances. Any room for charter schools in public education, even from someone as congenial on other education issues as Dr. Noguera, brings jeers from those wedded to the district system. It goes with the education reform territory.
for The Chalkboard
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posted by Peter Murphy at PermaLink 2:16 PM
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The "Miseducation Nation" panel event this week in Manhattan, which responded to NBC's "Education Nation" series, shows that many folks simply will not accept the existence of independent charter schools, even when they are overseen by someone as congenial as SUNY Trustee Pedro Noguera, the chairman of SUNY's committee on charter schools.
The Chalkboard discussed this event, and the generally evenhanded press coverage of charter schools here: http://blog.nycsa.org/2011/09/some-folks-will-just-never-accept.html
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