Don't Pull the Plug on Charter School Too Soon
by Anthony Stasi
May 29, 2012 | 14146 views | 0 0 comments | 401 401 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The race for the 15th State Senatorial District is going to be eventful.

Incumbent State Senator Joseph Addabbo has always been popular, but so has his once-likely opponent, Republican City Councilman Eric Ulrich. Now the Queens County GOP has endorsed Juan Reyes, an attorney and former Giuliani administration member.

There is plenty of time to unpack all of this interesting stuff in the coming weeks. For now, however, something happening alongside the 15th District is worth mentioning.

All public officials in this state should be ardent supporters of charter public schools. They are the only hope for good public schooling in a city where reform in education is like quicksand. By taking each progressive step, one seems to sink more and more.

Peninsula Prep is a charter school in the Rockaways that has not met the necessary standards, and now a judge will decide if it can remain open. We want standards, and we want consequences for schools that do not perform. Troubled schools should be brought under new management or closed.

In a case like this however, we need to consider the alternative for students in a charter school that has not made the grade. Should students be re-routed back to a regular public school in an area that may not have a strong public school system?

That may be a case of going from bad to worse. If the system stands on ceremony and closes Peninsula Preparatory Academy, the consequences for students might be damaging to their future.

Quality education is “job one” in any school, but right behind that are the issues of safety and environment. Exam scores can be improved at Peninsula Prep, but if students have to go elsewhere, they risk not only a poor education, but an environment that is less safe and less structured.

The school needs another chance, and elected officials (and those who want to be elected officials) should be on top of this. New management, different teaching methods, and alternative ideas are all possibilities, but sending kids from bad to worse is not the way to go.

Israel and NY06 Race

Writers covering the congressional race in the 6th District are now focusing on the issue of U.S.-Israeli foreign policy, which we talked about weeks ago in this column. This is going to be a factor to some extent, especially since this is a presidential election year.

If voters feel that the Obama administration has been less than supportive of Israel, which has been voiced at times, it might be a challenge for Obama loyalists to separate from that. But there is no guarantee that this will be front and center in this district.

The issue will probably be discussed more by the Republicans, who are often more visible in their pro-Israel stance, but whether that resonates with the folks in the 6th District is still uncertain. Being hawkish on U.S. foreign policy toward Israel is not always a big vote-getter, with the exception of certain races (the Turner-Weprin race, for example).

The Israel issue was big in that race, which filled Anthony Weiner’s seat in Congress, because Weiner made this an issue in his district for many years. Weiner was a staunch pro-Israel member of Congress, so voters in Brooklyn and southern Queens were hearing about it for a long time.

Outgoing Congressman Gary Ackerman is also a strong supporter of Israel, but the emotion around the issue may not be as strong in the new 6th District as it was in the 9th District.

Should there be a strike on Iran’s nuclear capabilities from Israel, that would be a complete game-changer, and the issue would need to be addressed by every candidate. For now, the race in the 6th will only slightly be about foreign policy.

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