New York State Exposed Education: Charter schools versus public schools in Rochester

Posted at: 07/17/2014 6:31 AM
Updated at: 07/17/2014 11:21 PM
By: Pat Taney

They tout amazing graduation rates and college placement. So why is there a movement against charter schools, especially in Rochester, where graduation rates are dismal?

Charter schools in Rochester claim that they have 90 percent graduation rates, 80 percent of those students then go onto college.

An old Catholic school in one of Rochester’s poorest neighborhoods is about to become the latest charter school in the city. It is called Partnerships to Uplift Communities, or P.U.C. for short. It was started in Los Angeles, a city much bigger than Rochester. When it comes to education, it is on par.

Jacqueline Duvivier-Castillo, P.U.C., said, “Below 50 percent graduation rate for students, even lower for minorities. Ninety-two percent plus graduation rates and going to college. We also track and 80 plus graduate from college.”

They are confident they will get the same results here. So why say no to something like that?

Howard Maffucci, retired school administrator, said, “The fundamental problem is high concentration of poverty. I don’t see anything that says charter schools fix that.”

In fact, he says charters maybe making an already big problem worse.

Maffucci said, “They are selecting students, who are less poor, fewer students with special needs and using those results as a weapon against regular public schools.”

Charters are also filled with students who traditional have strong parental support.

Maffucci said, “A child in a charter school lottery has a parent that wants them there. You have a whole slew of kids without a solid parental network, what happens to them?”

Rochester entrepreneur Joe Klein, who helped recruit P.U.C., says that’s nonsense. His school actively seeks out students at risk of dropping out, not those already succeeding in public schools.

Joe Klein said, “We don’t take any excuses. We don’t care that our kids come from poor backgrounds. We don’t care that they failed in school before.”

He claims it works because they are doing everything the public system isn't.

Klein said, “There are rules we don't have to follow, probably 100 things different. We can have a longer day, a longer year and better teacher training. We are more thorough in the hiring of teachers.”

Even critics agree. Some charter policies do work and should be adopted by public schools, especially in Rochester, where graduation rates remain the lowest in New York State.

Maffucci said, “The problem is we are not working cooperatively and that's what needs to change.”

If you would like to be heard on this issue, the next Rochester City School Board meeting is Thursday, July 24 at 6:30 p.m. It will be held at the administration building at 131 West Broad Street in Rochester.

For more information on charter schools in Rochester and how your child can enroll, click here.