Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Revealing situation in NYC: 39,000 applicants for 8,500 charter spots

The teachers' unions must be grinding their teeth

Applications to the city's charter schools have surged to new heights -- more than doubling from 18,672 last year to 39,200. The interest has led at least one school, Democracy Preparatory Charter School in Harlem, to tout its acceptance rate of 100 middle-school students out of 1,500 applicants as more competitive than Harvard's.

"Whatever one may say about charter schools, the one fact that can't be denied is that parents are clearly voting with their feet," said James Merriman, CEO of the New York Center for Charter School Excellence, which released the figures.

The report comes as most charters begin holding lotteries for 8,500 open seats this week -- including the Super Tuesday of lotteries that will take place tomorrow, when 29 schools draw from their lists of applicants.

Among the parents vying for open charter-school seats are Cherida Nurse, of Crown Heights, whose daughter, Rebecca, has been attending traditional schools through fourth grade. "From what I'm hearing, the standards seem to be very, very high [at charter schools]. They expect a lot from the kids," said Nurse.

At least 99 charters will be operating this fall.


UK: 40% of teachers abused by parents, 25% attacked by students

The methodology of the survey behind this report was very slapdash so the figures below should not be taken as exact. That the picture is broadly accurate is however undoubted

Four in 10 teachers have faced verbal or physical aggression from a pupil's parent or guardian, according to the Association of Teachers and Lecturers. And of the 1,000 teachers surveyed, a quarter said a pupil had attacked them. Over a third of teachers in primary schools said they had experienced physical aggression, compared with 20% in secondary schools.

The government says teachers have sufficient means at their disposal to punish disruptive pupils.

Almost 60% of those questioned for the Association of Teachers and Lecturers' survey thought pupil behaviour had worsened during the past five years. The survey questioned over 1,000 teachers from primary and secondary schools. The responses appear to suggest that bad behaviour is not the preserve of secondary schools.

One teacher at a primary school in England said: "A six-year-old completely trashed the staff room, put a knife through a computer screen, attacked staff and we had to call the police. "Another six-year-old attacked staff and pupils with the teacher's scissors."

Another teacher said: "I and other members of staff were physically assaulted daily by a five-year-old (including head-butting, punching). "He was taken to the head to 'calm down' then brought back to apologise. "It became a vicious circle. I was off sick as a result. "People often underestimate that young children can be as violent and intimidating as the older ones."

Around one third of teachers surveyed said that they had lost confidence as a result of the behaviour they had faced. But most teachers (90%) reported that "disruptive behaviour" constituted talking in class.

"Persistent low-level rudeness and disruption seems to have become a fact of life in education today and no longer raises eyebrows or seems to merit special attention," said Dr Ian Lancaster, a secondary school teacher from Cheshire.

Teachers will discuss the problem at the Association of Teachers and Lecturers' conference next week. Last year it emerged that more than 300 pupils a day were being temporarily, rather than permanently, excluded for violent conduct. A similar survey by ATL two years ago suggested half of teachers knew another who had been driven out of the profession by violent conduct.

ATL general secretary Dr Mary Bousted said it was "shocking that over a third of teaching staff have experienced aggression from students' parents or guardians". "ATL firmly believes no member of staff should be subjected to violent behaviour by either students or parents. "Parents should be acting as good role models by supporting staff and helping them create a more positive learning environment for their children."

The government said it was right that head teachers were using short, sharp shocks as a punishment.


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