Saturday, June 26, 2010

Moments in time... A School Closes

School's Out Forever (caption on a Times Union photograph) A teacher comforts a student on the final day of New Covenant Charter School. 1999-2010.

It's always interesting (fascinating to me) when people mourn the loss of something inanimate. Every morning for weeks on Talk1300 (Albany NY area radio) the morning host would scold groups who want to save an old building or landmark, yet the same fellow was incredulous when an old company from his hometwon announced it was closing its doors. "You don't miss what you've got til it's gone," especially if it was in the place where you grew up.

The closing of the New Covenant Charter School in Albany reminds me of the part in the movie "Avatar" where the earthlings are discussing how they set up schools and tried to get on the good side of the tall blue people. But there was something missing. And there was an ulterior motive: mining.

At New Covenant, like most other charters, a school was set up to improve the HOPES and teh educational experiences of children who were falling thru the cracks in the public education system.

There was this great concept. They came and built a cutting-edge school. They staffed it and hired a special management company. All was well. Or so it seemed.

In reading an article that appeared in Friday morning's Times Union, there was a reference to a badly deteriorating situation at the school. Teachers lacking materials for students. Fights breaking out. Student-against-teacher violence. This didn't happen because the school was ordered closed. It happened when the out-of-town management company cut the cord, letting the school "float away." If the charter school board decided New Covenant must be closed, so be it. But the teachers, students and parents deserved a "clean break" and not a "deteriorating situation" to close out the school year. Charter School management companies should be required to take a "no SCHOOL left behind" stance, even if a school is ordered to shut down.

During the month of August WAMC will air a special report I'm preparing on Capital Region Charter Schools. If you listen to RoundTable, you'll likely hear it.
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