Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Harlem Day School Charter Passes the Lemon to Democracy Prep

WOW- a new way to just recycle - a -charter!
 so much for the " close 'em down if they are not working" golden rule of charters.
 We are closing dozens and dozens of community schools but the bad charters linger like a bad lunch in a tad of schemes and re-organizations!
What is wrong w/ this picture?

Please confirm that this closed charter will be taken over by the same Democracy Prep/ Seth Andrews that got thrown out of RI for hiring unqualified teachers and charging too much for their "services", as described below in the article just posted.



Oh yes, AND the whole RFP process for a new operator was a scam.  Nobody applied because they knew it was an under the table done deal that DP will take over.  Didn't anyone think it unusual that not one other CMO bid on taking over Harlem Day which has it's own building.  KIPP, HSA, Icahn, Achievement First, Uncommon Schools - they all have more experience than DP and could easily have won the bid but not one of them tried.

Graft, graft, graft and graft with recycle a charter, not to mention illegal but who's got the money to challenge SUNY CSI.  So much for the premise of charters - accountability.  Wonder how much is DP going to charge to manage the school...

Hey, there's no need to raise the cap anymore because all failing charters will be recycled :-)- Mona

I have been told that the DOE intends to save all the available school space in Harlem from now on for expansion of three charter chains:

Harlem Success, Democracy Prep and KIPP. 

I’m not sure what will happen if another politically connected charter school comes calling asking for space, but this is what DOE educrats high up on the food chain have told others. - leonie

Update: Charter school operator departs

10:34 AM Fri, Dec 10, 2010 | Permalink
News staff    Email
By Jennifer Jordan
Journal Staff Writer
CUMBERLAND, R.I. -- The Rhode Island Mayoral Academies, an umbrella organization that supports charter schools, has parted ways with its operator, Democracy Prep/Democracy Builders, which has run Democracy Prep Blackstone Valley since 2009.
Democracy Prep Blackstone Valley serves elementary and middle school students from Central Falls, Cumberland, Lincoln and Pawtucket and has been hailed by supporters, including Education Commissioner Deborah A. Gist, as a promising model for the expansion of high-performing charter schools in Rhode Island.
In a press release issued Friday morning, Cumberland Mayor Daniel McKee, who chairs the board of the Rhode Island Mayoral Academies, said the school would operate under the leadership of Jeremy Chiappetta, who has served as the elementary school's principal.
The only reason given for the breakup of the two organizations was a brief statement that the two groups were unable to reach an agreement to "renew their contract."
In an interview, RIMA spokesman Bill Fischer said the two sides were unable to agree to terms after the founder of Democracy Prep, Seth Andrew, requested more money to manage the school.
"The [school] board did not think the request was reasonable or justifiable," Fischer said.
Andrew had drawn the ire of Gist and RIMA's executive director Michael Magee earlier this fall, when he announced in a public forum that not all of the teachers he had hired at Democracy Prep Blackstone Valley were certified.
Fischer said parents had been notified Thursday night about the change in management and said the school would also hold information sessions for parents with questions.
All teachers will keep their jobs and the curriculum will continue as planned, he said.
McKee also said in the release that he has briefed Gist about the situation.

-- The original version of this report was published at 10:07 a.m.

The unfortunate thing is parents had no clue there school was in danger of being shut down, just as they have no clue when Democracy Prep comes, the majority of kids will get pushed out by the "no excuses" school culture.  The teachers, staff and leadership will be let go, the kids can stay and DP gets a free charter school with it's own building - sweet for DP.  Harlem Day parents are in for a rude awakening.  NYCPA will be getting calls from those parents by October 2011, once DP takes over.  Well, at least Ben Lambert checked his ego at the door, are you paying attention Courtney....

Charter School Tries to Save Itself


Ben Lambert, who founded the Harlem Day Charter School a decade ago, hopes he can save the failing school by stepping down.
"I'm facing up to the fact that we don't deserve" to have the school's charter renewed for an additional five years, said Mr. Lambert, the founder of a real-estate services company, in an interview from his 22nd floor office overlooking Central Park. Dismal English and math test scores for several years in a row make it unlikely that the school's authorizer, State University of New York, will grant the renewal.
Daniella Zalcman for The Wall Street Journal
Ben Lambert founded the Harlem Day Charter School 10 years ago.
Mr. Lambert, 72 years old, is trying to convince SUNY to allow what he calls a "restructured renewal"—a model that has never been attempted in New York. Another charter operator would take over the school, wiping out Mr. Lambert's board and potentially replacing the principal and teachers. All the students would stay. SUNY is considering the plan, according to a spokeswoman.
Harlem Day, which opened in 2001, is one of the city's oldest charter schools, and one of its worst performing. Mr. Lambert, who has been the chairman of the school's board since its inception, acknowledges that he presided over "a long line of disappointments," including repeatedly picking the wrong principals to lead the school. "We've had a very difficult time finding competent leadership," he said.
There are 125 charter schools in New York City educating 38,000 students, compared with 1.1 million children in traditional public schools. Since 2001, seven charters have closed. Last month, the city announced it would seek to close Ross Global Charter School because of poor performance.
In the most recent state tests, charter schools, on average, outperformed the traditional schools in their districts in both math and English.
After Mr. Lambert's suggestion several months ago, SUNY asked charter operators for applications to take over Harlem Day. Only one applied: Democracy Prep Public Schools, which had the highest-ranked middle school in the city this year based on improvement in student performance.
Seth Andrew, founder and superintendent at Democracy Prep, said he is prepared to turn around Harlem Day. Charter schools typically begin with one or two grades, with just a few dozen children, helping to create a culture slowly. In the case of Harlem Day, Democracy Prep would be taking over six grades with 260 children in one fell swoop.
Nevertheless, Mr. Andrew said his organization is qualified to take on the task. He said that 90% of the students who enroll in Democracy are below grade level, and 20% have special needs. "Yet after just a few years," 97% of 10th-graders pass their Regents biology exams and 95% pass their algebra exams, he said.
"We take students that are behind their peers and propel them to new heights rapidly," Mr. Andrew said. Among the methods that Mr. Andrew uses at Democracy Prep are a longer academic day and year, intensive tutoring and student assessments every six weeks to identify weak areas that need more attention.
Mr. Lambert grew up on the Upper East Side, and traveled to private school in Riverdale as a child, passing every morning by the public schools in Harlem where poor children learned. In the 1990s, he wanted to do more than just give away his money to schools or organizations. "At some point you say to yourself, 'I'm going to do something about it,'" he said. He put in his own money to acquire a building, and also recruited friends and family to contribute.
But the school never really found its footing. In a visit to the school in May of 2009, SUNY representatives noted that "in most classes, teaching was not effective." For multiple years in a row, Harlem Day failed to perform better than even the dismal showing among the traditional schools in the same neighborhood.
After yet another leadership change last year, including help from outside consultants, Mr. Lambert thought it was possible that a turnaround was at hand. But this past summer, while he was vacationing, he got a phone call about the test scores. In English, only 20% of the Harlem Day students were on grade level, compared with 36% of kids in the rest of the district. In math, 25% were proficient, compared with 46% among the other neighborhood schools.
"I was devastated," he recalled, choking up during the interview
The test scores were the last straw, and he knew that SUNY was likely to call for the school's closing. He started to think of a way to find a proven charter operator to take over the school and do what he, his fellow board members and school staff had been unable to do.
"At some point," Mr. Lambert said, "you have to check your ego at the door."


Anonymous said...

Well just like that SUNY approved the Democracy Prep takeover. Not one teacher or parent was questioned about what happened with Harlem Day, or why it failed. I guess no one really wants to learn about what DOESN'T work in the charter world.

Anonymous said...

How much money do you think DP will make from this?