Delivered July 26, 2012
Good Evening, my name is Paul Ellis-Graham, President of the Hudson Valley Area Labor Federation. I am a teacher and am a former president of the Teachers Association in my own district, Monroe-Woodbury. Believe me when I say, I understand that there are challenges here in Middletown, because there are challenges everywhere. And I understand, that times are hard, they are hard in every district in this state as schools struggle in a weak economy and under the newly imposed property tax cap. What I do not understand is how a charter school would make things better in this district.
This community and its students, parents and teachers are making real progress. What we need is a continuation of the collaboration between the district and its frontline educators that has done so much already. In June 2004, the graduation rate for this district was 58%. Today, according to the data in the Liberty Public Charter School’s own proposal, the graduation rate is now at 79%.
The dedicated education professionals of this district have proven results. Charter schools still have yet to demonstrate their effectiveness. The first large-scale randomized study to be conducted across multiple states, comparing charters and traditional public schools found on average no difference in performance. We should not be taking away $2.5 million from the committed educators in Middletown to finance an unproven charter school.
There is no magic bullet to improving education. What it takes is hard work and dedication. Fortunately, this district can count on the hard work and dedication of its teachers and other education professionals. We need to give them the resources they need to succeed, not take those resources away.
I hope that the Charter Schools Institute recognizes the proven success in this district, recognizes the accomplishments of its talented and devoted professionals and recognizes that a new charter school is not right for this community.