Sign the petition to keep our school open!
The Ark Community Charter School evolved out of the Ark, Inc., an education and enrichment program that served Troy’s most impoverished children. We started a school thirteen years ago because we believed that the education system was failing these children.
Today we serve some of the most chronically and abjectly impoverished families in our community. During this school year alone, we have had 25 students who are homeless. There is no doubt that we draw our students disproportionally from the huge number (some estimates are as high as 40%) of children living in poverty in the US who aren’t prepared for primary schooling. We don’t seek them out so much as they seek us out.
The SUNY Trustees have now voted to close our school at the end of this school year. They indicated that they did this so as to maintain high standards in NY State charter schools. But when they say “high standards” what they really mean are high test scores. And while our test scores were actually quite impressive, given the makeup of our student body, they certainly could have been higher if we turned our back on the neediest students and favored the most academically ready and promising.
While the SUNY Trustees did not explicitly ask us to shun the neediest children, by setting incentives that punish schools for drawing heavily from the neediest students, the effect is the same. With their vote to close us on Monday a message has been sent to charter schools across the state of New York: SUNY-authorized charter schools can only maintain the necessary “high standards” in the eyes of the SUNY Trustees with high test scores--and the means to that end will not be questioned.
In their public rhetoric, the SUNY Trustees (through their Charter Schools Institute) repeatedly make the point that charter schools are given more freedom in how they operate in exchange for greater accountability, in the form of a contract that requires the schools to meet certain academic goals or risk closure. Up until this week, the SUNY Trustees have never closed a school that over the term of its charter met or came close to meeting its Absolute Measures in both English Language Arts and Math.
This week they did—and New York State is poorer for it.
The following documents were presented to the SUNY Board of Trustees. They did not address the clear issues presented in these documents and chose to listen only to the very biased opinions of the CSI staff. The SUNY Trustees never visited our school and with their extremely limited knowledge of us, chose to close a school that has high parent satisfaction, good governance; is fiscally sound and meets the academic social and emotional needs of our students. Our worth cannot be measured in a few test scores. Click on the links below that begin to tell our story:
Letter to SUNY Trustees from Ark - March 14,2014
Response to CSI PowerPoint March 14, 2014