The NY State Education Department declined to authorize the charter of a school geared towards ELL students in Queens. The school, Dignitas Academy Charter (DACS), applied for authorization last year with the name Phoenix Academy Charter.
Advocates of DACS cite the low and decreasing scores by ELL students on statewide English Language Arts exams as evidencing a need for a school with a focus on English Language Learners. With widespread community support, many are unhappy to see the school’s application fail a second time.
The former executive director of the Gates Foundation, Tom Vander Ark has decided to simply walk away from a project to open a school in Brooklyn and two in Newark after over three years and over $1.5 million. The story appears in today’s NY Times.
Because the charter process was so far along, hundreds of eighth graders had submitted applications to the schools. The story does not delve into details about whether an when the students and their families were informed and what they will do now.
Vander Ark had hired Joshua Morales, a former NYC Department of Education staffer to assist with the execution and management of the charter schools. Morales seems to have been completely taken aback by the complete dissolution of the plan. He is quoted in the article as saying Vander Ark is “flying 30,000 feet on the air but can’t do it on the ground.”
Morales has had a streak of misfortune with over zealous but dysfunctional charter school visionaries who clash with his by-the-book ethics. In September of 2009, Morales was let go by Eddie Calderon Menendez, the Chief Executive Officer of another troubled Brooklyn CMO, Believe High Schools Network.
Believe High School management has been embroiled in sandal since shortly after the establishment of its flagship school, Williamsburg Charter High School in 2004. It was the target of local coverage for allegedly retaliating against a teacher who was attempting to unionize. Last summer surveillance photos emerged showing Williamsburg students walking to classes at an industrial office space not approved by the NYC DOE for student instruction for art classes and counseling sessions.
Believe is now under investigation for possible mismanagement of public funds and also because the schools it manages violate their charter by engaging in an administrative contract with Believe.
At the end of this month, the Save Our Schools March and National Call to Action will be held in Washington, DC. The event will consist of a two-day conference, a march to the US Department of Education, and a leadership congress. The Saving Our School’s March (SOS), is organized in response to the current education reform movement.
The SOS’s Guiding Principles are as follows:
Equitable funding for all public school communities
- Equitable funding across all public schools and school systems
- Full public funding of family and community support services
- Full funding for 21st century school and neighborhood libraries
- An end to economically and racially re-segregated schools
- An end to high stakes testing used for the purpose of student, teacher, and school evaluation
The use of multiple and varied assessments to evaluate students, teachers, and schools
- An end to pay per test performance for teachers and administrators
- An end to public school closures based upon test performance
- Teacher, family and community leadership in forming public education policies
Educator and civic community leadership in drafting new ESEA legislation
- Federal support for local school programs free of punitive and competitive funding
- An end to political and corporate control of curriculum, instruction and assessment decisions for teachers and administrators
- Curriculum developed for and by local school communities
Support for teacher and student access to a wide-range of instructional programs and technologies
- Well-rounded education that develops every student’s intellectual, creative, and physical potential
- Opportunities for multicultural/multilingual curriculum for all students
- Small class sizes that foster caring, democratic learning communities