Green Dot to success

September 29, 2008 3:46:05 PM PDT
A new public high school opened this year in the Bronx that is like no other in the city. It gives teachers more say, and it pays them more. And if it's successful, we could see other schools like it in New York City."We're trying to prove ourselves to show that charter is a good school, to show that in charter you can get an excellent education," student Katherine Delgado said.

Teachers at the Green Dot Charter High School are also optimistic.

"And this school sort of had the promise that teachers would have a big part in controlling the environment," teacher Fran Sora said.

Unlike most charter schools, teachers at Green Dot are members of the United Federation of Teachers in a new and different partnership that is embraced by the union and the school.

A ribbon-cutting included Steve Barr, the California businessman-turned-charter school founder.

"I think we attract teachers who wouldn't normally work at a charter school because we have a collective bargaining agreement," he said.

The agreement, still to be finalized, calls for 10 percent more salary than public school teachers, a "just cause" standard for teacher discipline - which simplifies the disciplinary process, smaller classes and a "professional day," meaning teachers need only be present when they are teaching or fulfilling other school-related obligations.

"I will tell you that I see an employer whose culture and focus is on insuring teacher voice and professionalism," teachers' union president Randi Weingarten said.

Weingarten helped bring Green Dot to New York, after observing its schools in Los Angeles. They graduate 98 percent of students at 12 charter schools in poor neighborhoods there, and 80 percent of graduates go on to four-year colleges.

"You see, real teaching and a real engagement going on between student and teacher," Weingarten said.

The New York school begins with 100 ninth graders, expanding each year to include all four years of high school.

For more on the Green Dot schools, visit Greendot.org.

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STORY BY: Education reporter Art McFarland

WEB PRODUCED BY: Bill King

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