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UFT, Green Dot, in deal to give Barr a NYC school

June 28, 2007 pm30 11:16 pm

In an e-mailed bulletin going out under Jeff Zahler’s name, the UFT announced it was in a deal to try to bring a Green Dot HS to the South Bronx. I cannot tell from the bulletin how the approval process with NY State will work.

Let me make a few (skeptical and critical) notes, and then reproduce the announcement in its entirety.

  • What contract? Why is this not being mentioned?
  • Cap class sizes for this school, when the UFT has not been able to lower class sizes elsewhere?
  • Hiring? Green Dot controls? How about a little attention to our members who are having trouble with the open market hiring system, first?
  • Does that “stay open longer” line mean that the UFT is going for a longer working day?
  • How did this not pass through the UFT Delegate Assembly? (I’m sure there was some general resolution authorizing “explorations” or something like that once upon a time. But this is too big to go ahead without membership approval – says me. I’m sure Leo will disagree.)

The text of what I received (20 minutes ago) is below the fold —->

UFT FORGES A ONE OF A KIND PARTNERSHIP WITH GREEN DOT PUBLIC SCHOOLS
TO BRING A NEW CHARTER SCHOOL TO NEW YORK

In the first collaboration of its kind in the nation, United Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten and Green Dot Public Schools Founder and CEO Steve Barr today announced a partnership to bring Green Dot, the most prominent charter school operator in Southern California, to New York City.

Green Dot has gained widespread visibility as it currently operates ten public charter high schools in Los Angeles’ highest-need communities that vastly outperform comparable traditional public high schools.  The success of Green Dot is based on its “Six Tenets of High Performing Public Schools” calling for public schools to: (1) be safer and no larger than 500 students each; (2) implement a college preparatory curriculum for all students; (3) empower principals, teachers, parents and students to own all key decisions related to budgets, curriculum and hiring; (4) add more dollars to classrooms and significantly increase teacher pay; (5) value and support parent participation; (6) stay open later for community use.

By implementing this model, Green Dot has produced real results for its students, graduating 98% of its seniors with 78% going on to four-year universities. Results of this type are unmatched within the Los Angeles Unified School District where Green Dot currently operates.

“With the expansion of the charter school cap in New York State, it was time to identify sponsors who both value teachers as a key ingredient of school reform and who have a great track record. Green Dot’s core principles are very much aligned with the UFT’s. Teachers want to work in schools with small classes, that foster collaboration, respect and school-based decision making and that engage and involve parents,” said Weingarten.

Jeffrey T. Leeds, who will serve as the board’s chairman, said: “What is particularly exciting about this initiative is that it represents a model for structural reform.  At its heart, this model recognizes that for schools to be successful and for students to achieve, partnerships need to be forged and accountability needs to be shared. Green Dot has earned a great reputation for its work in California. The UFT has demonstrated through its own charter schools its commitment to being both a leader and a partner in reform.  Randi and Steve’s commitment to improving public education recognizes that the interests of teachers and of school managers may not always be in perfect alignment, but that the ultimate objective of everyone in the world of K-12 education – delivering results for children – requires true collaboration.  This is an important development that deserves broad support.
 
Green Dot is the only non-district public school operator in California that has unionized teachers.  The progressive working conditions Green Dot provides in Los Angeles will be replicated here in New York including giving teachers an explicit say in school policy and curriculum; a full and fair disciplinary process based on an independently mediated “just cause” standard; a professional work day rather than defined minutes; and flexibility to adjust the contract in critical areas over time. 

Green Dot was able to achieve these reforms by establishing a relationship of mutual trust with the teachers union and committing to pay its teachers above the average of comparable schools’ pay scales.  In doing so, Green Dot and its teachers share a unique relationship in the world of labor relations, one that is characterized by collaboration and a mutual interest in improving public education.

“Randi Weingarten is one of the most progressive labor leaders in the country,” said Barr. “When the UFT opened its two charter schools here in New York, I knew this was an organization I wanted Green Dot to partner with.  Green Dot has had great success in working with the unionized teaching force in Los Angeles and I have no doubt our school in New York will have the same results.”

Green Dot and the UFT intend to submit a charter application to the State University of New York Board of Regents for approval and, if approved, open a high school in the South Bronx beginning with 100 students in grade nine and eventually expanding to include all high school grades through grade twelve. Class size will be capped at 25.

Green Dot will identify the principal, conduct hiring, and provide curriculum and professional development. The UFT Educational Foundation will provide administrative and operating support services to the school, including financial management, procurement and grant applications. Jeffrey Leeds, co-founder of Leeds Equity Partners, will serve as the board’s chairman. Additional board members will include: Steve Barr; Charlie King, a civic leader; Deborah Levitzky, New Leaders for New Schools Resident and Educational Consultant; Betty Rosa, former superintendent of Community School District 8; Bonnie Steingart, a partner at Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobsen, LLP; Veronica Davey, Senior Director at the Broad Foundation; and Randi Weingarten.

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