Friday, May 19, 2006

Angry parents

Very interesting article today in the NY Sun about the UFT's secondary charter school's lottery, which was held last night. Here's the part that's really interesting to me:
Most parents left disappointed. "I don't like the way they did this lottery system," said Yolonda Orr, whose son Karron was not chosen. "It's like putting them on an auction block." She said that she will go back to applying to the better intermediate public schools, and hopes her son be accepted into one. She said she felt that many teachers "don't care, especially in our neighborhoods - just want a paycheck."

"I'm very disappointed that he wasn't chosen," Ms. Orr said on the subway home to Brownsville. "I wanted him to go to this charter school, and get a chance to start over with something new."
It's not news that charter school lotteries are often the scene of a lot of frustration, disappointment, and bad feelings. I think what's not being talked about is that a lot of those bad feelings are directed toward charter schools themselves -- or at least toward the lottery system. A colleague of mine is doing research on students who applied for our charters but were not selected through the lottery, and has heard a lot of very negative things from parents who feel that the system was rigged.

I'm not saying charter schools should give up the lottery system. I think maybe we should rethink the way lotteries are done. It needs to be clear to parents that the system is fair. And maybe making such a big spectacle of it, while exciting for schools and the parents that get in (and the media), isn't good for charter schools in general.

On the flip side of that same argument, there are a lot of angry parents out there who desperately want a better education for their children but who were not chosen in the lottery. What is happening to those parents? If they were to get together, go to Albany, and demand that the cap be lifted, I think it would carry more weight than a bunch of people like me doing the same thing.

It's their battle.

1 comment:

Jonas Chartock said...

Julie: I agree that this is an area that warrants greater study, and that the current approach being taken in NY probably doesn't make the most sense. My organization, the Charter School Policy Institute (, is currently working on a study that focuses on enrollment practices in charter schools here in Texas and beyond. I'm excited to share it with you once we near completion.