Over at the Washington Policy Center, Liv Finne's latest "analysis" is about the Success Academies in NYC, a small charter chain that has big plans to expand throughout NYC. They do have higher than average test scores but, like other charters, don't serve as many Special Ed students. And, their operator, Eva Moskowitz, rakes in a big salary and parent voices are not high on her list of priorities.
This analysis would be okay -it's one in a long string of ancedotal stories about good charters. They exist but not in numbers that would support the idea that charters can and do make a big difference in any district where they are located.
She then goes on to rail about principals in Washington State:
In Seattle, for example, the superintendent of the district
bureaucracy selects and oversees the performance of 92 school
principals, an unworkable set-up for many reasons. It doesn’t help
that, once in a position, school principals in Washington are protected
by RCW 28A.405.230, granting them lifetime job security.
If a school in Washington state has a good principal, it is because
the stars were briefly aligned to allow a good superintendent to make a
good choice that one time. If a school has a poor principal, they are
often stuck with her.
The superintendent of the "district bureaucracy"? I hate to break it to her but there is also charter bureaucracies that exist to give that all-important "accountability" that comes with charters. There is NO public institution that doesn't have oversight (well, except for the charter commission that would be created under I-1240 - they have ZERO oversight).
Also, if she doesn't like the RCW, shouldn't she be promoting changing it rather than saying that there has to be a system created to work around it? If this is important for charters and an injustice to other schools, why isn't it important enough to fight to change it?
As to her second paragraph, what an insult to the hundreds of good, hard-working principals in our state. She makes it sound like there are very few good superintendents OR principals.
She then says this:
How can a school principal establish a culture of high expectations
for the learning of every child when she cannot choose each teacher for
Uh, by doing his or her job? If being a good principal is contingent on the ability to being able to hand-pick every teacher in the building, we are all in trouble. And I hate to break it to her but the principal in a charter school is VERY likely guided by the charter board that oversees the school on those decisions.
But then we get to the name-calling. She quotes Joel Klein, the former chancellor of NYC schools who is speaking of the Success charters:
Unlike most teachers in public schools, they believe they can constantly
improve by having others observe them, by learning from each other, and
by trying new things. They thrive in a culture of excellence, rather
than wallow in a culture of excuse.
I haven't met a teacher yet who didn't want to collaborate with other teachers in their building AND have more professional development. Never. It's the keystone of the success in Finland. Ms. Finne seems to think it is fine for Mr. Klein to insult public school teachers by saying they all "wallow in a culture of excuse."
Now, I read this piece last night and, at that time, Ms. Finne called people who did not want charters "mean". I'm thinking someone at WPC read it and told her that name-calling is not the way to win any argument. Interesting.