ctrp313 The Era of Charter Schools

Charter schools in NYC are getting alot of attention over the past few years for the quality of education they are providing and the methods they use to do so. But what do we know about charter schools and how they function?

My guest today is Catherine Barufaldi of the Explore Charter School in Brooklyn, NY. For just over 2 years now she has worked at a successful charter school and has a lot to say about what sets her school apart from traditional public school.  In this program she talks about her experience while also explaining what exactly is a charter school and what do they mean for the future of education in the US.

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9 thoughts on “ctrp313 The Era of Charter Schools

  • September 11, 2009 at 2:59 pm

    meu caro amigo bicyclemark a situação das escolas daqui e muito ruim,porque não fazer uma pesquisa com as escolas na America do SUL

  • September 13, 2009 at 6:41 am

    Glad you did this. They’re certainly an interesting way to go, although I would love to hear from a teacher’s perspective as far as the non-union working conditions. Maybe it’s a good thing? I know that “unions” are a mixed bag these days, in peoples’ opinions. They stifle action and creativity, but at the same time they offer protections against unfair firings and less-than-satisfactory wages. Keep researching this–it’s interesting stuff, to be sure.

  • September 13, 2009 at 5:08 pm

    Why does it still feel that establishing charter schools is a crafty way of disrupting and dividing threatening political power bases? Do the parents of students in charter schools have the ability to influence its board like a public school? I’ve listened to the show 1.5 times now, forgive me if I’ve missed that.

    Even with the lottery, it still seems like it results in increased polarization. Public schools are designed to teach everyone. The lottery selection process seems like a way of glossing over the fact that such curriculum could just as easily be introduced into the existing public school structure. Why keep it only in the charter school? Despite weighing the lottery to favor more local students it feels like the solution being offered to students from problematic locales is to abandon them. I think lack of engagement on all levels is what leads to most of the problems facing public schools and their environs, not the public school system itself.

    The increased pay is obviously meant to discourage unionization. It’s great that the teachers want to work longer hours, but they should be able to make more money without having to. What kind of power do they have in shaping those hours? Yes the teachers have the right to organize and claim their voices are heard by management. But where’s the guarantee that they are? Unions guarantee such rights.

    I’m still not satisfied on the question of success. The charter school has its guidelines, but it seems vague.

    I deal with this issue directly and remain unconvinced that charter schools main goal is better education. Education is inherently political. Teaching someone to read is a political act.

  • September 14, 2009 at 2:17 pm

    pssh… as escolas na America do Sul!! Onde começar? Se concheces um professor que quer falar da situação… diz-me.

  • September 14, 2009 at 2:24 pm

    What Catherine seemed to indicate at the end, when I asked how the system will look in the future, she seems to be saying that the experiments going on in charter schools can provide ideas for public schools to adopt… IF they work.
    The union thing is indeed odd to me. I wonder how easy it really is to unionize if you’re in a charter school. Lots of institutions have said “they can if they want” but thats not always the reality. Then again, I think alot of these unions are stale and frozen in time.. especially with the overarching AFL-CIO leadership which I am not a big fan of.

    I wonder if I can find someone who works at a very corporate charter school to tell me of their experience. Does Shell Oil have a K to 8 school in NOLA yet?

  • September 14, 2009 at 2:25 pm

    Thanks B. Yeah you must have alot of insight on this issue too no? I figure in your area there might be a charter or 2… hmm then again the nearest might only be in Chicago.

  • September 15, 2009 at 2:32 pm

    vou procurar algum professor que deseja falar e depois lhe digo

  • September 15, 2009 at 2:35 pm

    the problem and here in Brazil, the teachers union is connected with a party of a very radical left-wing party linked to a retrograde communism and any difficulties negotiating with the government

  • September 23, 2009 at 6:28 pm

    Hi there,

    Great question, Chris, regarding parent engagement. Our school is managed by a volunteer board of trustees, which meets publicly 10 times per year. Parents often attend meetings to learn more and share their views. More specifically, there are two parents who are board members and are very engaged. They participate in discussions and vote on topics ranging from class size to budget approval to extracurriculars.

    As for your question of success–in the interest of time, I was purposely vague. The charter is literally hundreds of pages long, so describing in detail the standards to which we are held would have been quite cumbersome. If you shoot me your email address I am happy to send you a summary of the primary points upon which ‘success’ is defined for our students and our school.

    Finally, regarding your thoughts that you “remain unconvinced that charter schools main goal is better education. Education is inherently political. Teaching someone to read is a political act.” Remember that most charter schools are independent entities, so it is difficult to generalize what the main goal is for all schools. I can assure you that we agree that education is political, and that one of our primary goals IS to challenge the American political structure that has allowed students’ achievement to be based not on their ability but by virtue of where they are born and how much money their families have.


    Catherine B

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