Green Tech High Charter School was founded on the belief that all students are capable of developing the skills, motivation and perseverance required to prepare them to complete college. Well-taught classes, combined with 1-on-1 attention and a positive culture, can allow all students to become college-ready.
Green Tech High Charter School prepares young men to complete high school with a Regents diploma so they will have the opportunity to attend college or choose an alternative, responsible career path as they enter adulthood. Green Tech High will succeed in this mission by providing a complete high school curriculum, backed by a philosophy and culture, that ensures every student will attain the skills and coursework necessary for a Regents diploma, including the use of computer technology, providing an understanding of how technology impacts our future and instills a knowledge of environmental factors including human impact and sustainability.
Before Green Tech opened its doors on August 1, 2008, the students and parents who lived within the Albany City School District limits had only one public high school to choose from. In response to this situation, a group of community members wanted to create a high-quality educational opportunity for low-income students that were trapped in Albany’s low-performing public schools. Approximately one in five Albany city residents pay to send their children to non-public schools instead of Albany public schools – but for low-income families, this often isn’t an option. So, the idea for a new public high school – the Green Tech High Charter School — was conceived.
With the assistance of charter school experts and a great deal of education research, a nearly 500 page application detailing every aspect of the school was written and submitted to the State University of New York Board of Trustees. On July 31, 2006, the dream of Green Tech High became a reality when the application was approved to open the Green Tech High Charter School under founding principal John Taylor. The school took an extra year of planning time and opened in August 2008.
Staring with a ninth grade class in the fall of 2008, Green Tech subsequently added a new grade each year and graduated its first senior class in the spring of 2012. Upon founding principal John Taylor’s retirement, Dr. Paul Miller was selected as the second (and current) principal of Green Tech in the summer of 2012. The 372 students who currently attend Green Tech come from the Greater Capital District Area (Albany, Rensselaer, Schenectady, and Troy) of New York to attend Green Tech, because Green Tech offers a safe, small, focused, and disciplined learning environment for young men to thrive.
The school culture is the single most important element under-girding the achievement of all students. GTH instills in students not only skills but habits and behavior. The Principal oversees the development and maintenance of the school culture, and the Deans of Students are primarily responsible for student discipline.
Ensuring positive conduct and a culture of achievement is essential to improve student learning and achievement. Similar to other high-performing charter high schools, Green Tech High reinforces a value system of high expectations beginning with the general requirement that all the students must be gentlemen by behaving responsibly and honestly, focusing on learning and achievement, and showing kindness and respect to adults, other students, themselves, and school property. These “non-negotiables” manifest themselves in the school building by students attending class on time, ready to learn; studying and reading continuously; following the dress code; knowing and doing all assigned homework; and turning off and putting away all electronic devices while in school; to name a few.
Building school culture entails character development which will be taught and discussed throughout the day as teachers work to build a classroom environment that not only censures disorderly behavior but also anticipates and prevents it with systems and routines practiced and enforced consistently at the school. The school implements regular reminders of the behavior and character traits that are valued. Students gather in advisory groups as part of the beginning of each day or periodically in school-wide assemblies, to hear their peers and their teachers encourage and reward behavior.
Attendance is crucial to all of our students’ success at Green Tech High. Students that miss several days cannot master the content and skills of our rigorous academic program. A student marked absent for the day cannot participate in any extracurricular activities that day. Students that skip class when they are known to be present will receive daily detention. Students who disrupt their class repeatedly will be sent to a Dean for the remainder of the period and also receive daily detention.
Zeros Aren't Permitted
Every Wednesday students attend "ZAP" period. Without an advisory period and each class cut short by 1 minute, the last hour of the school day is devoted to helping students make up assignments, complete extra credit work if available, and receive more individual attention and help from teachers. Students report to the class in which they have the lowest grade overall. Students who have higher than 75% in all their classes receive a free study-hall period during ZAP. This program allows teachers to more readily identify problems students may be experiencing in their classes and address them head on. At GTH zeros are not permitted!
In order to allow students to focus on learning and to create a sense of community, Green Tech High has adopted a mandatory student dress code. It has evolved after significant review of the student dress codes of the highest performing charter high schools across the country.
Clothing worn by students at Green Tech High should emphasize the fact that the school is both a community and a place of work. Students should dress in a way that expresses their membership in the community and that meets the standards of a workplace. The attire should be neat and tidy and should conform to Green Tech High’s uniform policy at all times. Please refer to the Student Handbook for complete Green Tech High Dress Code Policy information.
Uniforms can only be purchased after a student is accepted and enrolled into Green Tech High. All students are required to wear black or khaki slacks. Cargo pants, jeans or other styles are NOT permitted. Students may wear any sneakers they so wish but BOOTS ARE NOT PERMITTED. The dress code is strongly enforced and offenses will be followed up by disciplinary actions. Students wear different color oxford or polo shirts according to their prospective grade:
Sixth Grade: Yellow Polo with Green Tech Logo, Oxford Button Down
Freshman: Black Polo with Green Tech Logo, Oxford Button Down
Sophomore: Green Polo with Green Tech Logo, Oxford Button Down
Junior: Gray Polo with Green Tech Logo, Oxford Button Down
Senior: Blue or White Polo, Oxford Button Down
No lottery was required after 4/1/21 at Green Tech High Charter School because we had enough opportunity to accept all applicants.
Why All Boys?
Green Tech High’s choice to be an all-male school is underscored by national, state, and local research illustrating that our society is at risk of losing a generation of young men. These “lost boys” are dropping out of high school, hitting the streets, joining gangs, turning to drugs, and as often as not, becoming caught-up in the criminal justice system.(1) These young men have very little chance of ever making it to college; their futures are just as likely to involve incarceration as education.
Here in Albany, the statistics for minority boys are grim:
High Dropout &
Dropout rates are high for all children in Albany, but are especially so for minority students and for boys in particular.
Majority of Court-Placed Youth
The data indicates that minority males also comprise the overwhelming share of youths placed by the courts into juvenile delinquency facilities and programs. In 2002, of the 42 youths ordered into such programs, 83% were minorities and 83% were males. (4)
High Juvenile Arrests
According to the data, 76% of juveniles arrested by the Albany City Police Department were African American, only 24% were white. 73% of arrests were male, 27% female. (5)
Heavy Involvement in Gangs
In recent years, youth gang activity in the City of Albany has reached disturbing levels. The dominant rival gangs have essentially split the city into uptown and downtown territories. (6) Probation officers in Albany “have been struggling with what they believed to be escalating violence being committed by local youth who were involved in organized gang activity.”(7) These gangs, which traffic in drugs, firearms, and explosives, and commit acts of violence ranging from burglary to murder, are recruiting boys as young as seven or eight years old into their ranks. The common age range for gang members is 14 to 26 years old.(8) Gang members are overwhelmingly African American and Latino.(9)
Interestingly, research has shown that poorly performing schools contribute to the growth of gangs. A study conducted in Rochester, New York, identified three school-related variables as significant risk factors for gang membership: low expectations for success in school by parents and students; low commitment to school by students; and low attachment to school teachers.(10)
High AIDS Rates
In Albany, the latest data reveals an alarming number of AIDS cases, with a disproportionate impact on minority youth. The rates of HIV/AIDS hospitalizations are greatest among blacks, particularly black males,(11) and the rate of new cases of AIDS is nearly 10 times higher for blacks (58.2 per 100,000) than for whites (6.1 per 100,000).(12) According to the AIDS Council of Northeastern New York, new cases of teenagers infected with HIV doubles every 14 months. Contributing factors include drug use and early sexual behavior.
Green Tech High is uniquely designed to address each of these variables!
With nearly nine out of every ten African American and Latino students in Albany failing the state’s 8th grade reading and math tests,(13) it is understandable that many become frustrated and drop out of school. Naysayers may assert that these children cannot be “saved,” let alone be prepared to attend the nation’s top colleges and universities. Attempting to justify these low expectations, such critics cite the prevalence of low-income families, single-parent households and other demographic factors in which these children are raised. One thing is certain, however: these teenagers will not be saved if all that is offered them is more of the same type of public education that has already failed them. Green Tech High is proposing an all-boys school in order to effectively serve Albany’s most challenged high school student population.
Research confirms that young men, particularly minorities, are the most educationally at-risk. Dr. Cornelius Riordan, an educational researcher and professor of sociology at Providence College, noted that: “…Boys are less likely than girls to be in an academic (college-preparatory) curriculum. They have lower educational and occupational expectations, have lower reading and writing test scores, and expect to complete their schooling at an earlier age.”(14) The U.S. General Accounting Office found that urban males benefit from single-sex schools: “Many educators are convinced of the value of single-gender settings for urban minority males. Several program officials…reported improved test scores, better attendance, or improved behavior among students in single-gender settings.”(15) This is supported by Dr. Riordan’s research in which he found that the performance of African-American and Hispanic students in single-sex schools is stronger on all tests, with scores, on average, almost one academic year above that of their peers in coeducational settings.(16)
The success of “no excuses”-type high schools such as KIPP (Houston, TX and Gaston, NC), Academy of the Pacific Rim (Boston, MA), Noble Street (Chicago, IL), YES College Preparatory School (Youth Engaged in Service, Houston, TX), and MATCH (Media and Technology Charter High School, Boston, MA) have shown irrefutably that potentially negative demographic factors can be overcome by well-designed schools that combine innovative educational approaches, longer instructional time, high academic standards, and strong behavioral expectations.
Drawing from the best practices of these successful small schools, Green Tech High will provide a high-quality alternative for the students most at risk of falling between the cracks. To ensure that each of its students attain mastery in the fundamental subjects of English language arts and mathematics, Green Tech High will offer two hours of instruction in composition and literature daily; 90 minutes of math instruction daily; and will set-aside substantial time each day for tutoring and other instructional assistance such as "ZAP" period (learn more) and Special Education staff support. All students will receive weekly instruction in preparing presentations and in public speaking. Students also will be able to contact their teachers at any time, seven days a week, via cell phone for help with homework or other issues. This level of direct interaction is unheard of in Albany’s district schools.
Blumstein, Alfred and Elizabeth Graddy, “Prevalence and Recidivism Index Arrests: A Feedback Model,” Law and Society Review 16:265-290, 1981.
State Education Department, Overview of District Performance in English Language Arts, Mathematics and Science and Analysis of Student Subgroup Performance for Albany City School District, February 2005, 23.
Ibid, 15 and 18.
U.S. Census Bureau, Poverty Status in 1999, Census 2000 Summary File 4, www.census.gov.
New York State Office of Children and Family Services, Division of Rehabilitative Services.
Data compiled by the state Division of Criminal Justice Services for 2004 (August 2005). Juveniles are defined as all ages under 18.
Albany’s gang expert, Ron “Cook” Barrett, head of the Gang Prevention Center, a project of Albany’s Department of Youth and Family Services, as quoted in David King, “Nights at the Y,” Metroland, Summer 2005.
Letter from the County of Albany Probation Department’s Deputy Director to Mayor Jennings, sent March 21, 2001, available online at www.nysgangprevention.com.
See www.nysgangprevention.com, for example.
National Youth Gang Center, Institute for Intergovernmental Research, http://www.iir.com/nygc/faq.htm.
Thornberry, T.P. 1998. “Membership in youth gangs and involvement in serious and violent offending,” Serious Violent Offenders: Risk Factors and Successful Interventions, edited by R. Loeber and D.P. Farrington. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
“Health Profile Report to the Capital District Community and Sponsors,” Albany County Department of Health, May 2002.
AIDS Council of Northeastern New York’s statistical website for teens, www.aidscouncilofneny.com/teenStatsSpeaking.htm.
State Education Department, Overview of District Performance in English Language Arts, Mathematics and Science and Analysis of Student Subgroup Performance for Albany City School District, February 2005, 18.
Cornelius Riordan, “The Silent Gender Gap,” Education Week, November 17, 1999, 46, 49.
Public Education: Issues Involving Single-Gender Schools and Programs (Washington, D.C.: General Accounting Office, 1996).
Cornelius Riordan, Girls and Boys in School: Together or Separate (New York: Teachers College Press, 1990). See, also, Cornelius Riordan, “Single-Gender Schools: Outcomes for African and Hispanic Americans,” Research in Sociology of Education and Socialization (Vol. 18, 1994), 177-205.