Sunday, February 26, 2012

ROADS Charter School:
The plans are hidden, but the consequences are pefectly clear.

On February 2, 2012, the DOE quietly posted plans on its website for a new charter school, ROADS II, slated for co-location in the Bronx Regional high school building. The school is scheduled to open in September of 2012.

As of today, parents and students still have not been notified of the proposed changes, despite a critical Joint Public Hearing on the school scheduled just two weeks away.

Why has the DOE kept this charter school under wraps from the community? What will its impact be on students at the existing schools? And why is it facing nearly unanimous opposition from those who know about it?

FACT: The DOE claims that the ROADS II school will have “no educational impact” on existing public school students, despite the fact that the charter school will take over 1/3 of the classrooms in two of the existing schools schools by 2015.

FACT: The charter school will reduce the current students’ access to the computer labs, the science labs, gym classes, the library, and all other shared school facilities.

FACT: Last year, one of the public schools in the building, Schomburg Satellite Academy, developed an entirely new schedule based on best practices for the transfer school population. Attendance this year has increased by 5%, ELA Regents scores have increased by 30%, and Science and Social Studies scores have increased by 30% under the new schedule. Adding a new charter school to the building will render this cutting-edge schedule impossible.

FACT: New York Education Law Section 2852 states that charter schools must "locate charter schools in a region or regions where there may be a lack of alternatives and access to charter schools would provide new alternatives within the local public education system."
The proposed ROADS school and the exiting public schools (Bronx Regional and Satellite Academy) both serve over-aged, under-credited students though a competency-based program that culminates in a special capstone project. The charter school and the public schools would serve the same population through very similar programs. In this respect, ROADS II may violated New York state law.
(See page 5 of the linked PDF's for details on the mission of Bronx Regional and Satellite Academy.)

FACT: There are currently three programs in the building. The two District 12 high schools in the building are losing classrooms to ROADS charter school. The one District 79 school in the building will not lose any classrooms. The Executive Director of District 79, Sarah Sandelius, is an adviser to the ROADS board.

FACT: The ROADS charter schools are backed by Centerbridge Partners, a private equity investment firm located on Park Avenue.

FACT: Under the proposed plan, the ROADS II charter school will be allowed to grow while the existing public schools will have their growth capped indefinitely.

FACT: The ROADS II school will grant preference in admission to students who have been in the juvenile justice system. In doing so, it will concentrate an at-risk population who studies have shown have far better educational outcomes when integrated into the mainstream public education system.
(See page 10 of the linked PDF for details on admissions criteria.)

FACT: The DOE released information about the co-location on its website on February 2, but has given no notice to parents and students about the planned changes that would radically alter the character of their school.

Why does the Department of Education favor the ROADS charter school over the existing programs in the building?
What does Centerbridge Capital have to gain through its involvement ROADS charter school?
Why has the DOE not shared this information with parents and families?

The Joint Public Hearing for the ROADS II charter school co-location will be held at 6:00 p.m. at the Bronx Regional school building at 1010 Rev. James A. Polive Ave. in the Bronx.

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