Archives for category: Students

Kathleen M. Cashin and Bruce S. Cooper are on the faculty of Fordham University. Dr. Cashin, an experienced educator, is also a member of the New York State Board of Regents. She is regularly in the minority on votes that increase the pressure for high-stakes testing. Dr. Cooper is a scholar who has written about school finance for many years. In this essay, they criticize the state’s pressure to raise test scores while sacrificing the social and emotional supports that students need to succeed in school. Schools across the state, restricted by Governor Cuomo’s 2% tax limit, must cut somewhere, and they are forced to cut such necessary services to students as social workers, psychologists, counselors, as well as the arts and athletics. These demands and the sacrifices they require will prove harmful to students, in the short run and the long run. A cardinal rule of medicine, derived from the Hippocratic Oath, is: “First, do no harm.” If it were the rule in education, the Regents and the State Commissioner would be judged to have done significant harm to the students in their care, whose well-being they willfully ignore in pursuit of ever higher scores on standardized tests.

Sacrificing Psychologists, Counselors,

& Social Workers—and Athletics & the Arts—to Test Preparation

Kathleen M. Cashin Bruce S. Cooper

To increase funds for the preparation of students for state tests, sadly, New York public schools and their districts have reduced the number of professionals for critical student services; these include guidance counselors, psychologists, and social workers, while removing often athletic coaches, arts and music staff. But how can we expect our children to flourish in schools socially, psychologically, and inter-personally if these students have fewer trained school professionals to turn to, should they need help, comfort, or support?

Thus, we are cutting the most important services for children, those that help them to develop as healthy, happy human beings, all because we are obsessed with spending more funds, hoping to raise test score results through test prep. As one school principal recently commented, “Just forget it if you are seeking a job as a school guidance counselor, as these jobs are few and far between!”

For example, New York State recorded a decline from 7,126 guidance counselors in local public schools in 2009, to 6,622 in school year 2011-12, a drop of 7%, even though the enrollments (and needs) had risen. Likewise, social workers in the state employed in public schools dropped by 6%, from 3,270 to 3,050 during the same time period. And nurses working in public schools in New York declined by 3%, from 3,662 to 3,544 during this time.

As another administrator recalls, when he was a student at a major N.Y.C. public high school, his guidance counselor frequently called him into her office and asked:

“How are you adjusting to school?” She would regularly check on my grades, attendance, and my adjustment to various subjects and classes. This attention and private time meant so much to me, and I remember her fondly to this day, as she helped me to become the person and professional that I became.

Even teachers of art, music, drama, and physical education – and other areas that often go “untested” by the state — are disappearing, again reducing children’s engagement, joy, expression, physical fitness, creativity, and affirmation. What have we as a society accomplished by turning schools into “test mills” where fewer kids are happy; and schools are now spending eight months each year prepping for state tests?

Funding for the music and art in schools in New York City, for example, has plummeted by 81 percent since 2006, from about $10 million for supplies, dipping down to just $2 million in 2012. Cultural partnership funding — to build bridges between N.Y.C. public schools and it important cultural institutions — likewise, has been reduced by 50 percent, from $26 million to only $13 million.

Results

Now, attention and time devoted to the “whole child” are now much less likely because teachers working alone in their classrooms are assuming more and more responsibility. And we see less staff who are trained and hired to help students — socially and emotionally — with a reduction in social workers, guidance counselors, athletic coaches, and school psychologists.

As a consequence, what are the effects of this drop in guidance counselors, now fewer in number in many schools, on children’s growth, stability, school attendance, as well the impact on levels of bad behaviors, such as physical bullying, and cyber-bullying? Those staff, specifically trained to address these students’ needs and problems, have diminished and thus are no longer around — or have so many students to serve, that they are not able to counsel students fully for college and career readiness.

We have data on the reduction in nonteaching staff, and on the rise of bad, anti-social behavior and depression among school kids; thus, we are believe that the drop in counselors and athletic-arts-music staff relates to the rising despair of students, who may have no one to whom to turn: fewer coaches, counselors, and psychologists in their schools.

Hence, we are making demands that students now become college and career prepared, while reducing (or overburdening) the very staff members who are trained to help these students. These critical questions must be answered at the federal, state, and local levels:

1. What is the level of relationship between loss of staff and the rise in student bullying and cyber-bullying?

2. What are the effects of reductions in available psychological and guidance personnel upon the levels of: (a) student suicide, (b) self-mutilation, and (c) truancy and dropout?

3. And how has the increase in gang membership — and combat among gangs –affected students’ feelings of school safety, school climate, and productivity?

Thus, overall, why are we letting our schools become less humane, supportive, and communal. And how are some students taking steps to join or create more gangs for fellowship and a sense of safety in numbers—or trying in other ways to create their own “safety nets”? Unsafe schools may then become breeding grounds, where frightened children look for protection in neighborhood gangs.

In effect, students are creating their own victimhood by these actions:

Looking to gangs for protection from other gangs;

• Missing coping mechanisms developed through counseling, guidance, and teacher relationships;

• Losing chances to learn life and life-coping skills in schools, along with other students and professional staff;

• Reducing available parental involvement and support in helping their own children learn to cope, practice, and succeed in school – and life; and,

• Losing real opportunities to practice social and personal skills at school and home.

We must recognize that caring for and supporting the socio-emotional needs of children are as important in the long-run as simply test-prepping our children’s way to a higher score on English, math, science, and social studies examinations.

Research and experience together show that children can learn, retain, and focus better when they are feeling and functioning as safe, happy, well-adjusted young people. Society has a real responsibility once again to make schools safe-havens for all children, physically and socially. For are we not truly our brothers and sisters’ keepers?

______________

Kathleen M. Cashin, Ed.D., is a member of the N.Y. State Board Regents and a clinical professor at Fordham University.

Bruce S. Cooper, Ph.D., is professor at Fordham University, Graduate School of Education, N.Y.C.

Contact:

Dr. Bruce S. Cooper

175 Riverside Dr. Apt. #2F

New York, NY 10024

Tel: 917 843-2281

Email: bruce.cooper@mac.com

Katie Osgood works in a psychiatric hospital for adolescents. She weighs in here on the debate, if there is one, about “grit.” Grit meaning perseverance, determination, character.

The kids she works with are in terrible trouble, and Katie says it is not their fault.

She writes that:

“…. the hyper-focus on individual character traits like “grit” is incredibility dangerous and damaging.

“I think of my students at the psychiatric hospital where I teach. My students are overwhelmingly students of color and many are students coming from the most debilitating poverty. And the oppression, neglect, and abuses they’ve experienced often manifest as significant mental health problems. Many have severe depression, suicidal ideation, debilitating anxiety, aggressive outbursts, or self-harming behaviors. According to Duckworth fans, these are kids significantly lacking in “grit”.

“And my kids are often very quick to give up on academic tasks. I work with many students who shut down, refuse to come to class at all at times, and instead sleep the day away. Some students act out aggressively-throwing chairs, making threats, storming out of the classroom-as a way to avoid difficult tasks. Others may act the class clown, disrupting the flow of the lesson.

“But there is always a reason behind these behaviors. I would never begin by assuming they lack perseverance, but would always look to why students are acting the way they are. Are they overloaded with their personal problems often including trauma and abuse? Have they been told repeatedly through test scores, grade retention, and frequent detentions/suspensions that they are no good and have internalized that they are “failures”? Is that student experiencing PTSD symptoms affecting their ability to concentrate and to persevere?

“The hopelessness these kids often feel is not a character flaw, but a normal human reaction to unconscionable circumstances. In fact, given the trials many kids have faced, they have shown amazing perseverance and grit in their lives.
Now I am not saying there are never times when kids just need some encouragement to persevere through a task. Good teachers use their relationships with students and expertise to decide if a little extra grit is what’s needed or if the task at hand should be modified or perhaps to discover if the student requires some other more pressing need be met first. Teaching grit is secondary at best in this process. The idea that this trait is a key ingredient missing in our students leading to low educational outcomes is preposterous. In fact, given the difficult life obstacles we do not protect so many children from in this country, this narrative is downright offensive.

“When we acknowledge how our society has utterly failed low-income communities of color through purposeful disinvestment, brutal police tactics, mass incarceration disparately impacting people of color, the lack of affordable housing, the criminal shortage of any jobs (much less living wage jobs), the gutting of a quality welfare system and other public services, and the destruction and dismantling of public education opportunities through school closures, turnarounds, and privatization efforts, we see entire populations thrown into abusive conditions.”

There is much more to read and think about here.

Arne Duncan, Bill Gates, Michelle Rhee, and the National
Council on Teacher Quality think they know what makes a great
teacher. A great teacher is the one whose students got higher test
scores this year than last year. A great teacher, they think,
brooks no excuses. In the no excuses charter schools, the teachers
snap their fingers and demand immediate compliance with commands.
Nicholas Ferroni, who teaches teenagers, decided to ask his
students what they think make a great teacher. He wrote about what
they said on Huffington Post. Here
are their answers.
The answers that occur most
frequently are “caring,” “dedicated,” “kind.” No one mentions test
scores. Who do you remember as your greatest teacher? What did he
or she do that made them the best?

This teacher explains: She loves teaching. She loves her
students, but she wants the high-stakes testing and the Race to the
Top to stop. She knows that her students are set up to fail. It is
all so wrong, so mean-spirited, so cruel. This is what she knows:
“I am a NYS certified public school teacher teaching 3rd grade in
an economically disadvantaged school district in rural upstate New
York. I happen to be one of the unfortunate teachers in a “test
grade” and am in fear of loosing my job, my livelihood, and the one
thing I used to enjoy waking up to every morning (my students)!!!!!
I went into teaching to teach precious little minds to learn and
not fear the consequences if they do not get something. “That has
all changed in the last several of years as state and federal
politics have stepped in to tell us how poorly our students are
doing. We, as teachers, are so under pressure to make a round peg
fit into a square hole with these new core standards. The people
who write these tests and demand that all students achieve at the
same level have never stepped foot into a classroom to see the
diversity of the students we work with everyday. “Last year during
the first year of the common core testing, I had students who were
crying because they did not understand the question, did not have
time to finish under the allotted time, or were just simply
overwhelmed by the complexity of the test. Is that why I became a
teacher, no it is not! I teach because I want to see my students
learn, but as more and more pressure comes down on us as teachers
so too does it in our students! “There has to be a time when we
stop thinking about the race to the top and start thinking about
the children we are supposed to be encouraging to want to learn!
The only thing we are doing with these common core state tests is
setting them up for failure and in the same process making teachers
look like they are not doing their jobs. “I’m tired of people who
have never stepped foot into a classroom telling me that I am not
“effective” because my 8 year old students can’t pass a test that
even a college graduate has difficulty completing!!!!!!! Whether I
am effective should not depend on how my students do on a three day
test, it should be based on whether they show growth from beginning
to end, just like they should not be considered as not meeting an
impossible state mandated goal in a three day test!!! Enough is
enough, let us get back to teaching and let our kids be kids,
after-all your childhood only lasts so long!!!!!”

This comment came from “Albany Mom”:   I
agree with the writer that “if parents do not advocate for their
children, who will?”
However, I need help
knowing how to advocate for my child. Who is going to
help?
My husband and I have struggled with the
demons of Common Core this year, watching our 9 year old son sink
into what looks like depression. We can’t afford private school, so
I have coerced, offered rewards, and tried everything to encourage
him. He has developed sleep problems, moody and irritable, and
hardly eats. He has impulsive aggression with his younger sister.
He has lost his previous love of creative play, especially with
Legos, and now is chronically bored unless he has a video game. I
have banned video games since I think it is an escape and he is
becoming addicted. He is withdrawing from me, just as he is from
school. When his father is home on weekends, he tries to talk to
him, but it is more like “you don’t have a choice, just man up and
do your best”. It seems like we can’t change the school
environment, so we have to change our son to adapt to
it.
Every morning is a struggle just to get
him out the door, and every night is another dismal episode of
boring homework (always worksheets with the “common core” logo at
the bottom). He cries frequently at home, and even broke down two
times at school this year when he became frustrated. I know that
caused a loss of dignity for him, and I met with his teacher to ask
for help. I can sense the teacher feels pressured too, and is
concerned about his test scores. He says son daydreams in class. I
was referred to take him to a child guidance center for counseling,
but that is not helping. A therapist can’t change the school
either, so is just trying to help him adapt to it.

I recognize it is not possible for me to make him like
school, and forcing him to go makes me feel like a bully. He may be
more sensitive than some children, but I think public schools need
to be happy welcoming places for children, and not like “work
camps” that make them feel worthless and trapped. This has caused
our family ongoing stress and fear, and it seems to be getting
worse.
This is indeed a “psychological plague”
that is taking my child’s spirit, and I think there

are millions of other children out there experiencing
similar emotional distress from CC.
Now I ask
this question to Arne Duncan:
“Is it healthy
and realistic to expect the nation’s children to adapt to an
environment that is obviously causing them psychological
distress?”

Students have the power to stop the destructive forces that are ruining their education and treating them as data points, not humans who want to learn. They are holding a conference in Los Angeles, where they will discuss strategies to resist school closings, high-stakes testing, data mining, and other current efforts to turn their educational opportunity into an opportunity for entrepreneurs to use them. They can learn from the creative tactics of the Providence Student Union, which has utilized politicl theater to gain public support.

Go, students, go! You own the future. Don’t let the profiteers, bureaucrats, technocrats, and futurists steal it.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Media Contact:

Hannah Nguyen
University of Southern California
Phone: (408) 644-9717
Email address: hbnguyen@usc.edu

USC Hosts EmpowerED 2014 Conference to Highlight Student Voice and Organizing in Education

Students everywhere are tired of feeling powerless
when it comes to decisions about their education.
That’s why they’re fighting back.

LOS ANGELES, MARCH 23 — On Saturday, March 29, at the University of Southern California, over 130 youth from all over Los Angeles will participate in EmpowerED: Los Angeles Student Power 2014. EmpowerED is a student-led education conference that will engage the local student community in discussing and strategizing what it will take to transform our education system to serve all students –and incorporate student voices.

EmpowerED 2014 is hosted by Students United for Public Education’s LA Chapter as a part USC EdMonth. This will be SUPE-LA’s first major event and the first EdMonth event to include local students in a discussion about educational policy issues.

EmpowerED will provide an opportunity for students in LA to learn about the student organizing that is expanding throughout the country, raise their voices on important educational issues, develop leadership and organizing skills, and collaborate with their peers on how to build a movement for student power. Israel Muñoz, co-founder of the Chicago Students Union who has spoken about his experiences on NBC and TED, will deliver the keynote address.

“Students spend most of their day in school, but almost never have a voice when it comes to decisions about their education. My fellow student organizers and I are tired of feeling powerless and have organized student unions to make sure our voices are heard,” says Muñoz. “We are very excited to share our stories with LA students, as well as hear their experiences and work with them to build a stronger local and national student movement. I am honored to be a part of a groundbreaking event that fosters peer-to-peer student empowerment and youth voice.”

Israel Muñoz marches with the Chicago Students Union
to protest mass school closings in his community.

The conference will bring together leading high school student activists from across the country who have organized and led student unions in response to the lack of student voice in top-down policies of the current education reform movement, such as high stakes testing, budget cuts, and mass school closings. In Los Angeles, these policies have further destabilized already under-resourced communities through cutbacks on the arts and humanities, mass teacher layoffs, and the reconstitution of major high schools like Crenshaw and Dorsey.

These experiences run nationwide. As such, EmpowerED will host a discussion panel with Providence Student Union’s Cauldierre McKay, Portland Student Union’s Sekai Edwards, Newark Students Union’s Kristin Towkaniuk, LA’s Coalition for Educational Justice organizer Taylor Broom, Alliance for Educational Justice’s Tre Murphy, and Chicago Students Union’s Israel Munoz.

A large part of the event will consist of hands-on, interactive workshops and open forums. There will be workshops led by all speakers and panelists on various topics such as student unionism, creative direct actions, public speaking, social media, and LA-specific movements for educational justice and student voice. Community groups like K-12 News Network and the California Student Union will also lead workshops on student voice in the budget and student organizing at the college level.

At the end of the day, students will have the unique opportunity to generate artwork that portrays their vision for student voice in education. This artwork will then be displayed in an exhibit called Collective Voice: The Wisdom of Young People on Education, at a 2015 national educational conference in Washington DC.

There will be a Livestream of the event for those who cannot make it to LA to attend. For more information about the EmpowerED 2014 conference and to access the Livestream video on the day of the event, go to empowerED2014.com.

View our promo video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FIFz2qCHYcI

Follow Us on Twitter: @empowerED_2014

MEDIA INTERVIEWS

Local media is invited to attend the conference on Saturday, March 29, 2014 to:

Interview EmpowerED attendees and speakers during lunch (12:00 – 12:30 PM)
Capture footage of the featured student organizing panel (12:30 – 1:30 PM)

About Students United for Public Education

Students United for Public Education (SUPE) evolved out of the work of college students involved in defending public education from its attackers. In particular, SUPE was founded to fill a void in the movement for public education — before SUPE, there was no national student organization devoted solely to this cause. Under the guise of “closing the achievement gap” and “school choice,” for-profit corporations and their political representatives have sought to privatize and sell off public education. SUPE understands that a profit motive cannot guarantee a good education. Instead, only a robust and well-supported public education system — along with the courage and will to directly confront problems of racial and economic inequality — can provide a quality education for all.

SUPE is a community based organization because we know that public schools are the heart of every community. In other words, SUPE understands that in order for our goals to be reached, we must fight with K-12 students, parents, teachers, and community members and elevate their essential voices. We aim to work with communities to find out what their needs are, and have them lead the way in the struggle as we work as equals to organize the change they believe is best. Find out more about Students United for Public Education at: studentsunitedforpubliced.org

About USC EdMonth

EdMonth at USC is the first national student-led movement and discussion about the state of education in our country. Downtown Los Angeles and the USC campus will serve as the backdrop for educators, parents, policy makers, business leaders, elected officials, engaged citizens and students to engage in a national, collegiate student-driven discussion on the issue of improving education in our country. USC EdMonth is organized by the USC Academic Culture Assembly and USC Program Board. Find out more at: edmonth.usc.edu

© Copyright 2014 University of Southern California. All rights reserved.

Hannah Nguyen
(408) 644-9717
hbnguyen@usc.edu
University of Southern California | B.A. Sociology
Students United for Public Education | Co-National Organizer
USC EdMonth | Executive Board Member
EmpowerED 2014 | Executive Director

The Rochester Teachers Association is suing the state for its flawed evaluation system, which unfairly judges teachers.

Erica Bryant explains why in this article.

“Years ago, I visited the Kennedy Space Center and bought a coffee mug from the gift shop. It is decorated with some NASA equations, including one used to calculate the speed an object needs to escape Earth’s gravity. This formula fits on one line.

“By contrast, the document that describes how to measure student growth for the purpose of evaluating New York’s teachers and principals is 112 pages.”

Even in 112 pages, the teacher evaluation system is unfair and senseless and penalizes teachers who work with the poorest students.

A reader, Karen Taylor, sent the following reflections about her life as a teacher today:

Titanic, 2014

I am finishing the eighth week of my twenty-seventh year of teaching in public schools.

Today I had a startling insight- that somehow I have been given the task of saving the sinking Titanic. Public schools are the Titanic, run aground against icebergs of state-mandated test scores and the failing family structures of our children.

I’m instructed, prodded, encouraged, and held responsible for saving all the students who may have little or no support. And there certainly aren’t enough life rafts or life preservers to meet their needs. There are no other sturdy crafts nearby to rescue them.
I alone am responsible for this future generation.

And the band plays on deck with strains of, “No Child Left Behind”, “Higher Order Thinking Skills”, Hands-on Learning,” and “Data Driven Instruction.” I hear “Key Academic Vocabulary” and “Learning Objectives” played between each set.

And though I hum and sing and dance with all the rhythms, the deck still capsizes. Children are still struggling to hang on until I can reach them.
Believing that “all children can learn” is our lighthouse. All children can learn, as the beam pronounces. Yet as it circles I remember……they can’t all learn in the same way or on a state-mandated timeline.

The lives I save are measured by “my scores”, while in reality, the scores are very faulty life-preservers for our children. Those scores reflect a single moment in time, like a tiny ripple in the ocean of their lives. And many children perform unbelievably well when the reality of their tsunami-riddled lives are filled with abuse, neglect, alcohol, drugs, and hunger, with very little room left over for worry about a test score.

But they hang on, and they try to hum and sing and dance and move, except for when they are distracted by the memory that their dad gets out of prison next week and their mama needs them to babysit tonight because she has to work late.

So I inflate their little life vests with a hug, a joke, a smile. I give them a pencil and read them a book and we laugh, and for a moment, the ship is stable. And they read a book in English for the first time, and we celebrate, and I pretend that the iceberg has melted and we will sail again.

Because I love this big old ship and all the passengers it holds, and I treasure the message of the lighthouse. But the reality of the iceberg is not just sinking our ship. It is bruising and battering those of us who serve it and seek to save our children.

Carol Burris, principal of South Side High School in Rockville Center, New York, and Alan A. Aja, assistant professor of Puerto Rican and Latino Studies at Brooklyn College (City University of New York) here explore and explode the claims that the Common Core Standards will promote equity for the most disadvantaged students. The assertion is often made that these standards, because they are common and because they are rigorous, will lead to higher performance by all students. The theory is that students will learn more and try harder if the standards are made “harder.”

What Burris and Aja show is that the Common Core testing to date has widened the achievement gap between haves and have nots.

They write:

In New York for example, one of the first states to roll out the new curriculum, scores from Common Core tests dropped like a stone—and the achievement gaps dramatically widened. In 2012, prior to the Core’s implementation, the state reported a 12-point black/white achievement gap between average third-grade English Language Arts scores, and a 14-point gap in eighth-grade English Language Arts (ELA) scores. A year later enter the Common Core-aligned tests: the respective gaps grew to 19 and 25 points respectively (for Latino students the eighth grade ELA gap grew from 3 to 22 points). The same expansion of the gap occurred in math as well. In 2012, there was an 8-point gap between black/white third-grade math scores and a 13-point gap between eighth-grade math scores. In 2013, the respective gaps from the Common Core tests expanded to 14 and 18 points.

Despite these dismal results, the New York State Education Department and the Board of Regents decided to go full steam ahead:

Rather than heeding the warning that something is very wrong, New York’s Board of Regents adds the highest of stakes for students—their very ability to graduate high school. In February, the New York State Board of Regents established the college-ready scores that students will need for graduation, beginning with the class that enters high school in four years. These scores, which up until now have been known as “aspirational” measures, have been reported by the state in the aggregate and by sub-group for the past several years. If these scores were used last year, the New York four-year graduation rate would have plummeted to 35 percent. This low rate masks even worse outcomes for students with disabilities (5 percent), as well as black (12 percent), Latino (16 percent) and English Language learners (7 percent). New York Education Commissioner John King even told reporters that he was disappointed that the scores were not phased in sooner because the delay means more students would leave high school “unprepared.” He need not worry. With his preferred cut scores, most students—especially students of color, poverty and disability–will not leave high school at all.

The current path that is mistakenly called “reform” but might as well be called “destruction” will have terrible consequences for students, educators, schools, and communities, they warn:

In the meantime, the Common Core aligned-tests will be used to justify the continuance of market-based education reforms. This means firing teachers and principals based on test scores, closing urban schools with higher low-income populations and the proliferation of charters as punishment (which ironically scored worse in language arts and the same in math as New York City public schools in the latest round of Common Core-aligned tests). These strategies, straight from what economist Naomi Klein calls the “shock doctrine” school of economics, lead to further gutting and pseudo-privatization of the most necessary of our public goods, while continuing the false narratives that teachers and their unions are the problem or that racism, poverty and inequitable resource distribution are merely excuses.

 

 

At the meeting in Austin of the Network for Public Education, I singled out a large number of people and groups who are turning the tide on behalf of the public good. One of them was Austin’s own Sara Stevenson, a librarian at a middle school. Sara reads the editorials in the Wall Street Journal and responds whenever they lash out at teachers or public schools. This keeps Sara very busy, because public education, teachers, and teachers’ unions are a favorite whipping boy/girl of the WSJ, which hates unions and anything that is not yet privately managed.

Sara was previously added to the honor roll for her courage and persistence on behalf of public education.

Today, Sara came to the defense of Mayor Bill de Blasio, responding to Peggy Noonan and the WSJ’s barrage of attacks on him for denying Eva Moskowitz the eight charters she wanted (she got five) and not allowing her to take public space away to grow a middle school (194 of her “scholars” were displaced); if she had gotten what she wanted, children with special needs would have been pushed out to make room for Eva.

One thing wrong in Sara’s letter: Eva’s salary is $475,000, not $400,000. Her 22 schools have fewer than 7,000 students.

Sara writes:

LETTERS
De Blasio’s Focus on the 96% Is Right

Bill de Blasio, is more concerned about the 96% of NYC school children who attend public schools than the 4% who attend charters.

March 14, 2014 6:19 p.m. ET

Regarding Peggy Noonan’s “The Ideologue vs. the Children” (Declarations, March 8): Bill de Blasio is more concerned about the 96% of New York City school children who attend public schools than the 4% who attend charters. And it’s true that charter schools benefit from Wall Street hedge-fund managers’ huge cash infusions. Eva Moskowitz, head of the Success Academy charter-school chain, makes around $400,000 annually to run 22 schools. In contrast, my superintendent in the Austin Independent School District, Meria Carstarphen, oversees 117 schools comprising 85,000 students and makes $283,000 annually. Furthermore, my superintendent is held accountable by a publicly elected school board of nine members who must approve her decisions. How about Success Academy pulling children out of school for a field trip to Albany for a political rally? Imagine what Ms. Noonan would be saying if those “evil” union teachers took their students out of learning opportunities for a day of demonstration. There is a lot more to this issue than she and the Journal are acknowledging. Dig deeper. See the larger picture.

Sara Stevenson

Austin, Texas

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