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March 19, 2009
Charter parents say schools are changing their kids
PHOTO: TN.GovNora Marcano and her son Joel, who attends Harlem Link Charter School at the Armory last night. Parents at last night's high-energy charter school rally took time out to tell me a little bit about their (overwhelmingly positive) experience with the schools. They gave a more personal portrait of schools that are often defined (at least on this site) by their politics, such as Harlem Success Academy, which has been battling for space inside a traditional public school; Harlem Link, whose founder said he favors slower growth than Harlem Success; and Democracy Prep Charter School, whose students have testified at hearings on mayoral control and whose founder entered the debate on "creaming." "I think this is something new and not everybody believes yet," Mayrene Lopez, the mother of a six year-old at Harlem Success Academy told me, explaining why charter schools create controversy. Lopez said her son Justin has improved tremendously since entering the school in August as a first-grader, and she wants her two-year-old to be able to attend a charter school when she's old enough, too. Justin didn't get into the school the first time he entered the lottery. The next time he was put on a waiting list. And then he got in. "He's reading and writing on his own," Lopez said proudly.
February 10, 2009
Charter school principal: I don't "cream" my students. Do you?
Among those who have commented on Elizabeth’s post about journalist Jay Mathews’ seven KIPP myths are one of the charter school chain’s most vocal…
February 8, 2009
Classmates lay out debate: "Dictatorship" vs. getting things done
Democracy Prep Charter School Students Testify on Both Sides of Mayoral Control Debate before New York State Assembly from Elizabeth Green on Vimeo. Maybe the clearest articulation of the debate on mayoral control was laid out Friday by two middle-school students from Harlem. The two boys, students at Democracy Prep Charter School, testified back-to-back before the state Assembly hearing in Manhattan. One argued for preserving the law as-is, on the grounds that giving one person power allows the most efficient and effective leadership. The other pushed for adding checks and balances to the mayor's power, on the grounds that total control is un-American and makes him feel a little queasy. Daniel Clark Jr., a seventh-grader and the first of the boys to testify, asked the Assembly members to consider his family's dishes. He said the dishes are more likely to get washed if only one family member has sole responsibility for them. LeiShawn McClean, an eighth-grader, also used a family metaphor. "Student and parent input isn’t just about sitting around a table talking about how bad this dinner is," McClean said. "We need to really have input on how the schools are run."
January 20, 2009
What schoolchildren sounded like when Obama became president
Democracy Prep Charter School students have been studying electoral politics all year. This is how it felt to be among them, and…
January 20, 2009
Harlem girl's advice to Obama: Fund good schools, close the bad
I reported in our feature today that the Harlem Armory inauguration party included a pre-written postcard to Obama, on which students were supposed to give their advice about how to improve America's schools. Above Ayanna Mason, a 13-year-old eighth grader at Democracy Prep Charter School, gives me her advice. The video cuts off at the end but what she said is that good schools should get more funding, while bad schools should be shut down. I also spoke to students at CIS 313, pictured in a video below, who said they hope Obama brings home the troops and ends slavery.
January 20, 2009
Obama is an inspiration to a 14-year-old watching from Harlem
Students from 34 city public schools and and an influx of tearful well-wishers — including some members of the New York Guard, a family…
January 16, 2009
An inauguration day party in Harlem for charter schools
PHOTO: Tajuana Cheshier/Chalkbeat TN A postcard Democracy Prep sent out inviting other schools and parents to their Harlem Armory inauguration party. I’m planning…
November 3, 2008
Election Day is a teachable moment at Democracy Prep
Democracy Prep students get out the vote on Super Tuesday earlier this year. Photo: ##http://democracyprep.org##Democracy Prep##. Last month, students at Democracy Prep, a charter…
October 31, 2008
Kevin Parker loves charters, but not Bloomberg public schools
State Senator Kevin Parker of Brooklyn meets with charter school students at the Brooklyn Museum of Art last night (Philissa Cramer/GothamSchools) Charter school boosters are often seen throwing compliments at Mayor Bloomberg. So yesterday it was a little surprising to hear a state senator, Kevin Parker, in one breath sing the charter gospel and in the next lambaste the Bloomberg administration for its management of the public schools. At Brooklyn Charter School Night yesterday, Parker told me that his position isn't really a contradiction. Everything he loves about charter schools, he said — their freedom from bureaucratic restrictions, their creative spirit — is absent from traditional public schools. And he said that charter schools' long waiting lists reflect families' frustrations with district-run public schools.
October 31, 2008
Charter school kids to City Council: term extension helps schools
I mentioned in a previous post that two charter school students from Harlem were among those testifying in favor of extending term limits at the City Council earlier this month. Their school head, Seth Andrew of Democracy Prep, sent me their testimonies, which he said they drafted on their own, on blank pieces of paper, by hand. Andrew said the students had the opportunity to testify either for or against extending term limits. Both came out in favor. (Not a surprise, since Andrew also said that his students testified at the invitation of James Merriman, the executive director of the New York City Center for Charter School Excellence and a political ally of Mayor Bloomberg.) The testimonies are worth a read. Here's how seventh-grader Daniel Clarke Jr. explained the connection between term limits and education: Well, this chancellor has made a lot of progress in seven years, but he’s not done…YET. My school goes from grade 6 to 8 right now, but we are supposed to grow all the way to grade 12. Unfortunately, we can’t do this without a public school building, and this chancellor says he wants to give us one. He wants to close bad traditional schools and grow good ones like mine. If you pass this bill, my school will have a chance to take me all the way to college. If you don’t, the progress can’t continue and my school might not be able to grow. But I deserve a great high school, and there aren’t any others in my neighborhood like Democracy Prep that are open to all kids. Term limits prevent my family from having a choice, both in schools and in mayors and what we need are more choices, not fewer. This bill is not about Mayor Bloomberg or the City Council; it is about giving our community choice, voice, and progress for the kids of New York City. Thank you for Listening, I’m Daniel Clark Jr. The full testimonies are after the jump.
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