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UPDATED: BTF issues "stinging report" of charter schools (updated with charter school response)

UPDATED: Northeast Charter Schools Network responds to BTF's "stinging report" below by saying the report "blatantly ignores the truth that charter schools are working." Read their response at the end of this original blog post.  

The Buffalo Teachers Federation took aim at Buffalo charter schools during a press conference Thursday. With more than 7,000 students attending charter schools in Buffalo -- not an insignificant number -- the union attempted to drive home the message that charter schools are far from perfect.

While some charter schools are flourishing, others do indeed struggle with academic success, as evidenced by the recent closures of Pinnacle and Buffalo Community charter schools. The BTF took state report card data and drafted a report that, among other things, points out that many city charters have higher suspension rates, and serve fewer special education students and English language learners.

But the report also cherry-picks some information and academic data and provides little comparative, average data between Buffalo charters, as a whole, and Buffalo Public Schools.

UPDATE: The Northeast Charter Schools Network, a regional advocacy organization for the more than 200 charter schools in New York and Connecticut, responded to the BTF report Friday by saying the document "blatantly ignores the truth that charters are working to improve student performance and insults Buffalo parents who choose these schools for their children.”

“The BTF should be ashamed of itself for foisting this half-based screed on the public and calling it `research.’ It would fail any basic statistics class,” said Bill Phillips, President of the Northeast Charter Schools Network.

The group then went on to highlight their own set of facts from NYS Education Department data:

  • Buffalo charter schools are outperforming the Buffalo City School District in both math and ELA.
  • The four-year high school graduation in Buffalo charter schools is 23 percentage points higher than in Buffalo district schools.
  • On average, Buffalo charters outperform Buffalo district schools in both 2012 and 2013 in grades 3-8 for both math and ELA.

In addition, the Northeast Charter Schools Network announced Friday that it was funding a series of 30-second radio ads supporting Buffalo’s public charter schools, parents, and children. Their ads will run for one week.

Below is the original BTF report.

-- Sandra Tan and Tiffany Lankes

BTF Charter School Study

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About School Zone

Denise Jewell Gee

Denise Jewell Gee

Denise Jewell Gee joined The Buffalo News in 2007 and currently covers education and suburban schools. She also writes a column for the City & Region section and previously covered government in Erie County and Niagara Falls. Gee graduated from Boston University with degrees in journalism and political science.

@denisejewellgee | djgee@buffnews.com


Tiffany Lankes

Tiffany Lankes

Tiffany Lankes joined The Buffalo News in 2013 and primarily covers the Buffalo Public Schools. She has written about education since 2003 at newspapers in Florida and New York. In 2008, she was a nominated finalist for The Pulitzer Prize. Lankes is an Amherst native and graduate of Sacred Heart Academy and Syracuse University. She started her journalism career writing for the News’ NeXt section.

@TiffanyLankes | tlankes@buffnews.com


Sandra Tan

Sandra Tan

Sandra Tan has been a cityside reporter for The Buffalo News since 2000 and currently covers the Buffalo Public Schools beat. She previously covered the Williamsville school district and was a full-time education reporter for five years prior to joining The News. She graduated from the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism.

@BNschoolzone | stan@buffnews.com


Deidre Williams

Deidre Williams

Deidre Williams began working for The Buffalo News in 1999 and currently covers Buffalo Public Schools. She formerly was a suburban reporter on the Northtowns beat and has been a cityside reporter covering communities since 2004. Williams has a mass communications degree from Towson University.

@DeidreWilliamsB | dswilliams@buffnews.com

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