We take our tagline very seriously around this office: Charter schools are public schools and C3S supports all public education. We believe that the lessons we’ve learned during our relatively brief existence as autonomous and highly accountable public schools are worth sharing with everyone. That was, after all, the original intent of the Charter Schools Act of 1998.
So we want to give a shout out to Ernest Logan, president of the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators for taking for his forceful stand on behalf of the city’s public school principals and assistant principals to regain the autonomy that has, bit by bit, been chiseled away from them under the present administration.
The ability to make local administrative decisions outside of the long bureaucratic chain of command goes to the heart of what makes our independent charter schools great. The Bloomberg administration understood the power of that autonomy and, to a degree that hadn’t been seen in NYC since the very brief tenure of Anthony Alvarado, extended that autonomy to a considerable degree to all district school principals. To be sure, the Bloomberg-Klein years were also notable for its technocratic inclination and indifference towards traditional pedagogy but, as Mr. Logan points out in yesterday NYTimes: “I think a majority of (our members) would say they probably had a better shot of being able to effectively do their job under the old administration.”
The attitude of the current administration, that “autonomy is something that principals have to earn,” flies in the face of modern management practice which presumes that those you oversee are grownups. It also explains why the administration, which would like to get this right, has had such a consistently hard time understanding the power behind our independent charter schools.
Keep up the good fight, Ernie. Regaining some autonomy for your members will help level the playing field between district and charter public schools and could go a long way to improving relationships between sides that seldom meet.
Steve Zimmerman, Co-director of C3S