Charter School Proposal Draws Heavy Opposition
Members of the community joined together for the first in a series of meetings to discuss the future of two Buffalo public schools. Some are now working to restart the pair of city schools as charter schools.
But as YNN's Kate McGowan explains, the charter proposal is drawing some heavy opposition.
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BUFFALO, N.Y. -- East High School and Waterfront Elementary School are among those on a statewide list of Persistently Low Achieving Schools.
One local group is working to turn that around.
A proposal has been created by the not-for-profit management organization, Chameleon Community Schools Project Inc. to take those schools and restart them as charter schools.
"We want to put these students into a successful school environment, bottom line," said Steve Polowitz from Chameleon.
But an informational meeting sparked strong emotions from those who are dedicated to keeping both functioning as public schools.
One teacher said, "I am heartbroken that you can stand there saying you can do what we've been trying to do, and we get no credit for on a daily basis for the last year."
"To me, the charter school system seems to be slowly taking over the district school system," said a Buffalo resident.
Some feel as though Buffalo's newly elected superintendent, Dr. Pamela Brown should have the opportunity to help the schools thrive.
"But that's the thing about public education. It's free and appropriate for all," a teacher said.
"The parents don't want this," another teacher said.
Chameleon Inc. said restructuring would enhance the educational experience.
Of the 1,500 at-risk students, they said a charter would provide the best chance for turnaround success.
"We approached this process from all respects, keeping the children and community at the forefront, that's our interest," Polowitz said.
The Board of Education said it was never given an executive summary of the proposal.
Members said the process has not been transparent.
"They completely bipassed the Board of Education and the superintendent for that matter and went directly to the state. You can't come out into the community and say you're not getting cooperation from the Board of Education and the superintendent when we don't know what they're trying to do," said board member, Ralph Hernandez.
Chameleon Inc. plans to take the many concerns into consideration, but said its moving forward.
"Come July 31st, these applications will be complete and submitted."
The applications for the charter schools will be reviewed by the state. Chameleon Inc. is expected to know whether or not it will be recommended for Board of Regents Approval by October.