It's about great public schools.

Serve all kids? Make me! (UFT Hypocrisy, Part II)

Publication Date: 
Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Monday we blogged about the UFT’s selective outrage over enrollment differences: somehow they never get around to protesting in TriBeCa. This morning’s Daily News reports that the union also ignores differences at its own charter school:

The teachers union's campaign to force charter schools to enroll as many high-needs students as traditional public schools may have to begin in its own backyard.

Just 9% of kids at the UFT charter school are special education students, compared with 14% in the Brooklyn district where it's located. Only 1% of students at the school speak English as a second language, compared with 14% in the district as a whole....


The UFT's response?

"That's why we recommended the law, because we know we aren't serving the neediest students," said UFT President Michael Mulgrew.

Wow.

Why would the UFT wait for a change in the law to stop participating in what its own report calls a “system [that] is sorting students along ethnic and racial lines, undermining the pluralism and diversity found in City public schools (p. 10).” It’s not like it’s illegal to serve more than 1% ELL students.

The facts are awkward for the UFT because it wants to blame “charter schools’ self-regulated, market-based system of choice-based enrollment (p. 10).” As President Mulgrew blustered in the union paper, when charter schools' "purpose is perverted, when schools are not trying to help all children, but aim to game the system in order to beat the ëcompetition,’ we have to call them out on it.”

But now the UFT Charter School has been called out in the Daily News. If “not trying” and "gam[ing] the system" is what generally causes enrollment differences, what is the UFT’s excuse? Or could it be, as James Merriman suggested in the Daily News piece, that this issue comes back to practical challenges rather than bad faith?

So here’s an invitation to President Mulgrew: the Charter Center supports two consortiums of charter schools that work together to get better at recruiting, serving, and retaining special education students and ELLs, respectively. To date, the UFT Charter School has not joined either one. Why not stop the posturing and help us get this right?