Kicking off -- and getting our message out

Of all the baseless slams against charter schools, the most maddening are the ones that question our equitable treatment of kids who need us the most. I have never seen a stronger commitment to at-risk kids than I’ve seen in the independent charter schools of this city. As we’re fond of saying: “we counsel kids in, not out.” “Equity” is not a buzzword around here. It’s a guiding principle.

Unfortunately, public perception is easily swayed by grandstanding, shallow reporting and a politics of division that sows misinformation. So, let’s reset the conversation. The C3S Fall Kickoff is two weeks away: September 21, at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center. The Kickoff theme is “Vulnerable Populations: What are we doing to engage and retain all kids and create a school culture of empathy, respect and collaboration?” It’s a pretty big deal – way more than we can cover in a brief session. But it’s a start, and it’s a way for us to loudly proclaim who we are. Our guest speakers will be Dr. Betty Rosa, the new Regents Chancellor who has been a strong voice for ELL’s and Danny Dromm, Chairman of the NYC Council Education Committee and an outspoken advocate on LGBTQ issues. Two of our own school leaders will be speaking as well: Ron Tabano from Wildcat Academy and Stephen Falla Riff from Renaissance Charter High School for Innovations. Both schools devote major resources to their work with overage, under-credited youth, and both are shining examples of what our schools, at their best, strive for. We’re not going to change the conversation or the perception overnight – but we’re starting. Welcome back, guys! Steve Zimmerman


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