Category Archives: Schools

Bargemusic Comes to Ditmas Park

Bargemusic Ensemble photo: Jan Price

Tuesday’s rain didn’t prevent Ditmas Park from coming alive with the sounds of spring (and winter, summer, and fall) as Mark Peskanov, executive and artistic director of Bargemusic, Brooklyn’s floating concert hall, brought Bach and Vivaldi to P.S. 217. The 5:30 PM performance by Peskanov, with the Voxare String Quartet and bassist Paul Cinque, was the latest musical offering at the Flatbush elementary school, where former Ditmas Park resident Jodi Redhage had inaugurated her own Ditmas Park Concerts three years earlier. Continue reading

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What Happens When a Charter School Arrives

Do charter schools raise educational standards? The schools’ proponents say that charters educate more effectively than traditional public schools, and even those that don’t, still create a competitive environment in which traditional public schools are “incentivized” to improve their own teaching methods. Can this logic be disputed?

The pro-charter school argument ignores that charters can hurt overall educational progress by undermining nearby traditional public schools. Charters’ aggressive marketing efforts can force TPSs to expand their own publicity campaigns, diverting money and time that otherwise would have gone to support instruction. A charter’s arrival in a neighborhood also can demoralize a public school’s leadership and parents, who view the interloper as a competitor for space and dollar resources and community support. But it is outside the schoolhouse walls that charters may do their most lasting damage, if they create or exacerbate social divisions in the community. How this plays out depends on the neighborhood, and the quality of its traditional public school. Continue reading

Charter Schools: The Power of Marketing

Wednesday’s New York Times ran a front-page story on some Harlem public schools that are responding to pressure from charters by aggressively marketing themselves. Such marketing typically includes school tours for prospective parents, augmented by postcards and brochures, with most campaigns [amounting] “to less than $500, raised by parents and teachers….”

The Times story tells how prospective parents touring P.S. 125 with its principal, Rafaela Espinal, showed appreciation for the low number of students they saw in each classroom and the school’s impressive physical amenities, which include a rare swimming pool. But some parents, according to the Times, still weighed sending their child elsewhere. Continue reading

Unbalanced Coverage: NYC School Closings

WNYC’s Morning Edition ran a four-and-a-half minute story about the lawsuit brought by the UFT and the NAACP against NYC to stop the city from closing 19 underperforming schools. Articulating the NAACP position was NYS NAACP Chair Hazel Dukes, whose sound bite ran for 10 seconds. But the story gave City Hall, in the person of Deputy Mayor Dennis Walcott, a three-and-a-half minute interview to make the city’s case. No quote from UFT.

Dysfunctional or Disagreeable?

With New York and California vying for the title of the most dysfunctional state government in the U.S., it’s hard to find anyone in New York City these days who will publicly compliment Albany. Mike Bloomberg draws cheers when he blames Albany for taxing NYC’s revenues and returning less than the city’s fair share. City public school equitable funding advocates agree with him, not without reason. Charter school operators and supporters bristle at Albany’s failure to lift the state’s 200-school cap. Atlantic Yards opponents chafe at Albany’s strong-arm development tactics. State aid to the Big Apple is reduced and city jobs are threatened because Albany’s budget deficit is gigantic. These days, Albany is an easy target. Continue reading