While more than 90% of public school teachers made it to their schools during the strike, citywide, only 61% of the city’s public school students made it to the babysitting sessions/schools (31% of high schoolers showed up.) Not a whole lot of education happened. “We just went to the gym and played with some volleyballs,” one Stuyvesant High School student told NY1 at the time.
But some charter school teachers, administrators, and parents went all-out to make sure students wouldn’t miss a single minute of instruction time. “If you miss a day at our school, you are missing a lot of learning,” said Deborah Kenny, founder of Village Academies, which runs the Harlem Village Academy Charter School. Kenny mobilized her team to call the parents of all 160 students in the days before the strike to find out whether they had contingency plans in place. If the parents needed help, the school quickly found other families who lived nearby to form car pools, or traveling (usually by foot) teams of Village Academy students and chaperones.
“Many of our kids take cross-town buses or subways, so this was important to us,” Kenny said. “We tried to team parents up with other parents.” The message from the school to its families was clear: No matter what happens with the strike, we don’t want your children to miss a minute of class time.
The results were positive, in more ways than one. Student attendance during the strike was 80% and teacher attendance was 100%. “It was extraordinary,” Kenny said of the teachers’ dedication. “Some arrived in their cars at 5:30 a.m. and sat in their cars until the building opened.” Parents who didn’t even know other parents in their neighborhoods found they had bonded during the experience. “It was really an upbeat week, despite all that was happening with the strike,” Kenny said.
Attendance at the school usually averages 96%, and this sort of school-to-parent communication is commonplace throughout the year. Teachers, for example, are required to make regular telephone calls to parents to update them on their student’s progress.
Another write-up on the Village Academies can be found here. To see how teachers describe the school, click here.
Disclaimer: The Chalkboard is hosted by the New York Charter Schools Association (NYCSA) as a place where members, public education advocates and others can view and respond to informed commentary on timely public education and charter school issues. The views expressed here are not necessarily the official views of the NYCSA, its board, or of any of its individual charter school members. Anyone who claims otherwise is violating the spirit and purpose of this blog. To comment on anything you read here, or to offer tips, advice, comments, or complaints. please contact TheChalkboard.