"The advisory concept — that’s when a teacher has a group of kids and they meet with them on a weekly, monthly basis — that’s something I’m trying to implement," Aviles said, but added that ideas such as longer school days, limited tenure, and after school strategy meetings are prevented largely by union-negotiated contracts.It’s not that charter schools have some hidden ineffable strategy, some potent elixir that produces high academic achievement in poverty stricken neighborhoods. They simply have access to logical supplements – longer school days, limited tenure, after-school hours, citing from Mr. Aviles' list – barred by local bargaining agreements. DOE data on Robert Treat Academy in Newark, a K-8 charter school and one of those “laboratories of innovation,” shows that only 6.1% of 8th graders fail the language arts ASK and 2% fail the math assessment. Robert Treat, one the partners in the Newark alliance, has strategies out of reach to public schools because of NJEA recalcitrance.
Charter schools run on public money but are often exempt from union contracts that can influence how and when teacher evaluations are done. In many conventional schools, for example, tenured teachers are evaluated only once every three or four years. Evaluations typically consist of one or two short classroom visits. Nearly every teacher passes, even at failing schools, and an overwhelming majority get top ratings.If charter schools in NJ are allowed to live up to their stated purpose – those much hallowed laboratories of innovation – then logically our chronically failing urban schools should be implementing successful strategies like longer school days and years, limits on tenure, and teacher accountability. If those strategies are not being transferred to schools like Barringer High – and they’re not – then we need to reexamine the ways in which NJEA's leadership is empowered to scuttle the academic hopes of the non-charter school children in cities like Newark.
Labels: charter schools, NJEA