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Why don’t city’s public schools outperform charter schools?

Published: Tue, April 27, 2010 @ 12:00 a.m.

Why don’t city’s public schools outperform charter schools?

In 1998 Eagle Heights Academy opened as one of the largest charter schools in Ohio. Since then, it has become a benchmark in technology and has implemented research-based inquiry in the school curriculum. Utilizing a variety of teaching strategies, Eagle Heights Academy has offered the students of Youngstown a choice in education.

Before charter schools came on the scene like “gang busters” in the late 1990s, the children of our community had no choice of where they could go to school. Unless, of course, they happened to have a family that could afford to send them to a private or, in the case of the current president of the Youngstown City Schools, a parochial school.

Yes, that’s right. Anthony Catale, the current board president of the Youngstown City School District, who was quoted in an April 20 story advocating the closing of Eagle Heights, is a young adult in his early twenties who has never attended a Youngstown public school. As a youth he spent his days in popular parochial schools such as St. Brendan’s and Ursuline, never truly experiencing a day in the life of a city school student. Furthermore, Mr. Catale does not have a degree in education. He knows nothing of teaching strategies or children’s ability to learn.

Why does this bother me? Well, I’m sick and tired of all of these so-called experts passing judgment on what they think rather than on what they know. Yes, Eagle Heights has had its share of problems getting students to pass these standardized tests. Yes, its run is over come June 2010. However, Eagle Heights Academy has had the heart to go head-to-head with federal, state, and local politics to make a difference in the lives of the children in this community. That’s more than I can say about Youngstown city schools, which are still where they are today as they were when Eagle Heights Academy opened.

Why didn’t the city schools take the challenge to improve the students they had and “win” their students back from all of the charter schools that opened their doors over the past 12 years? Why are they still pointing fingers at everyone but themselves?

John Beitzel, Boardman

The writer is a teacher at Eagle Heights Academy.


1CShaughnessy(3 comments)posted 5 years, 2 months ago

In regards to the above article John Beitzel doesn't hesitate to make a slam againest his cousin Anthony Catale, is it maybe he's frustrated that the second charter school he has taught at is now closing because of poor academic standing? Also he comments about Anthony not attending Youngstown City Schools, as a youngster that was not Anthony's decision, but his parents who worked and struggled to pay for the Catholic faith education that they wanted him to have. And since when is John an authority on Youngstown City schools, John had the priveledge of growing up in Canfield and attended that school system all his life. Lastly, he knows nothing of Anthony's education, Anthony is a subsitute teacher in several area school districts, attending school currently for further teaching credentials, at 23 years old Anthony has more knowledge of the school system then many. John expresses winning the children back over the last twelve years, Anthony has only been on the board for two, you can't change a village over night, give them time and I'm sure they'll win them back!!!

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2chippewa3(6 comments)posted 5 years, 2 months ago

I was a teacher at Eagle Heights for many years and I , too, am deeply rooted in my faith. Believe me we were NOT underpaid, nor are we inexperienced. We've had behavior issues that some teachers did struggle with, even if the kids are supposedly hand-selected from Youngstown City's finest. I did a stint as a sub at Sheridan Elementary in Youngstown years ago , before EHA, and what a mess that was! Talk about tearing a substitute apart!
I applaud John ( who has won awards for his teaching) for speaking out against the bashing we've received for years just trying to do our jobs the best we can.
IF no other charter takes over EHA, YCS had better be ready to take in 750 students.I'm curious... Where are they going to put them? Who's going to teach them if they keep letting teachers go? Maxed out classes with 35 students in a room? How will that turn things around?
I sincerely hope the best for YCS. I hope Mr. Catale does turn the whole thing around. We do need more strong Christian men deeply rooted in their faith to come in and take over Youngstown. As Anthony knows Christ taught us to "love our neighbors as our selves".
Too often even Christians fail to live out those commands.
P.S. I went to Kirkmere, Volney, and Chaney.

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3TheSub(1 comment)posted 5 years, 2 months ago

Directed at Peggy6, I'll just start by saying that I, too, have subbed at Eagle Heights Academy. I have done so for the past 6 years. Unlike your daughter, I have had a much different experience at EHA. Though it is true that some students and classrooms can be unruly and out of control, I have NOT found this to be the norm. I think it is unfortunate that your daughter felt threatened by a student; however, I must say that most times administration has responded to any situations. I would also like to take the opportunity to compliment the staff at EHA who work very hard to improve the scores of these students. I have had the fortune of watching two of my own children succeed, and, although they attended schools of excellence, there are many of these teachers who would have been as good, if not better, teachers than the ones that taught my children.

To psyker99: If memory serves me, in the 2009 academic year EHA produced students with higher OAT (now OAA) scores than those of Youngstown City. So how are the public schools doing better?

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4isaacsmom(2 comments)posted 5 years, 2 months ago

Have any of you who are complaining about Eagle Heights Academy ever spent a day in our school or come to any of our events? If you had, you would see a quality education taking place. No matter what school you go to anywhere there are problems, but look at the education taking place. How many of EHA students get into Early College, Mooney and Ursuline? Many! My own children have attended EHA. I have lived many places in the US, and if there was not a quality education at EHA, my sons would not get their educational foundations here. My oldest son transitioned to Austintown without any problems.

Eagle Heights Academy teacher/parent

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5straycat(1 comment)posted 5 years, 2 months ago

I challenge any teacher, administrator, school board member or general member of society to spend one day walking in the shoes of those that work at Eagle Heights Academy. Most of you would likely not return because it is a challenge. The staff at EHA embrace the challenges set before them and give their all to educate the students in their classrooms. It's offensive when outsiders, those with no knowledge of the educational system or teachers within, make comments about the EHA being underqualified and inexperienced. There are staff members with Master's Degrees, National Board Certifications and 30 plus years experience within the walls of EHA. Parents choose to send their children to Eagle Heights because of the dedication it's staff members display. I am proud of every member of the Eagle Heights staff. It has been and honor to work with them and a privelage to teach the students that walk through those doors every day. Thank you to our dedicated and supportive parents.

EHA teacher

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6dreamcatcher52(140 comments)posted 5 years, 2 months ago

Eagle Heights has had the same challenges as YCS and has similar results. Their test scores are low, but as in YCS, that doesn't tell the whole story. I would have no problem with charter schools if they had to live by the same rules as public schools - accept all students that come to them, follow all the state requirements for Spec. Ed, etc.

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7toomuchapathy(14 comments)posted 5 years, 2 months ago

There are many assumptions in this letter that need to be addressed. No where in the country is there a "qualified" school board. Why? Because the school board is an elected position making administrative and political decisions. There are twenty somethings on the school board, like Catale and Hanni, who are undoubtedly using their position as a spring board to further political careers. There are also members who are construction workers, water department workers, (that also send their children to private schools) who use the post in other ways.

While Catale may substitute teach or be working toward certification, he would not be allowed to teach and be on the school board, conflict of interest. Not to mention trying to get a teaching job with his political background would be impossible, no principal wants a rival.

And furthermore, I think anyone living in the city limits would work to send their children to private schools if financially feasible... because the city schools and the charter school ARE NOT performing. It doesn't matter if you have heart or if you really care.

Sociologically speaking, a child's academic success is based on a variety of factors, and teacher and school quality are just a few of them. Youngstown needs to address a multitude of factors in order to help the schools and the community. Wendy Webb talks about how hard it is to educate a child when they are moving every nine weeks (because of evictions and bad housing). If you have ever moved, you could imagine how hard that would be for any parent or child and then to navigate switching schools.

Before getting a permanent position, I worked as a substitute at Eagle Heights, and it was not very different from any city school in curriculum, mood, or performance. Because of all the factors listed above.

Schooling is a societal issue, and until it is treated as such, we will continue to have this banter.

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8isaacsmom(2 comments)posted 5 years, 2 months ago

In response to dreamcatcher52, we at EHA are required to do exactly the same as YCS in regards to students. We have to accept anyone, if we have an opening, and are required to follow all state laws in every aspect of education.

Eagle Heights Academy teacher/parent

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9chippewa3(6 comments)posted 5 years, 2 months ago

How far we've come from truly being "teachers". When Jesus walked the earth He was called "Rabbi", or teacher, and considered the little children of the highest faith. So much so that he challenged us in the book of Mark to have faith such as them.In all this debate about charter schools vs. city schools the little children have gotten lost. We see money, hostility, and agendas; struggles for power and pridefulness over who's the best.How have we strayed so far from what is an age-old, yet crucial, profession? I hope that we will find our way back as a society to the simple ability of raising and teaching children as we were intended centuries ago...

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10ytownLADY79(26 comments)posted 5 years, 2 months ago

"There are twenty somethings on the school board, like Catale and Hanni, who are undoubtedly using their position as a spring board to further political careers."

If this is the case, these two are pretty bold. This could also be the beginning of the end of any political career if they don't help fix the schools!

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