As someone committed to quality education, I was interested to learn that a new charter school -- the proposed Hudson Valley Charter School for the Arts and Global Awareness -- might be coming to the White Plains area.
Charter schools, which are not subject to the same rules and regulations as public schools, can develop unique means and teaching methods. Like home schooling, military academies, private and parochial schools, they sometimes perform better than nearby public schools, although not nearly as well as the provocative film Waiting for "Superman" suggests. In a nationwide study of 2500 charter schools by Stanford economist Margaret Raymond -- the CREDO study -- 17% were judged superior to matched public schools, 46% the same, and 37% worse, leaving plenty of room for improvement.
However, in economically depressed localities which are under- or badly-served by their public schools, charter schools can provide much-needed, affordable alternative schooling. The compelling benefit is that charter schools, unlike the alternatives, are tuition-free. In New York state, the tuition, transportation and other expenses are paid by the local school system, whether the charter school is structured as a non-profit or for-profit institution.
It is impossible to know beforehand whether the proposed Hudson Valley Charter School for the Arts and Global Awareness
will be one of the 17% that might be superior, or part of the overwhelming majority which, at best, are no better than the White Plains Schools. But we do know that White Plains does not fit the economically depressed profile of benefit. And more importantly, we know that White Plains excels in teaching the arts and global awareness, the express specialties of the proposed charter school.
With no need, and no reason to expect it to exceed, the proposed charter school evokes just one certainty. If it succeeds in attracting 10-15 of our students, it will cost the White Plains Schools system $260,000-390,000 it can ill-afford.
That's what I think. Please express your opinion at the public hearing on Wednesday, October 27, 2010, 7:30 pm, in the Assembly Room at Education House, 5 Homeside Lane, White Plains, New York. And let the members of the School Board know in writing. You'll find their names, home and email addresses here: http://tinyurl.com/WPSchoolBoard.