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Thursday, July 31, 2014

Letter to SUNY board from Councilmembers, urging them not to approve any more charter schools until true accountability is achieved

An article about this letter was in today's Daily News. Excerpt: "We are being oversaturated with charter schools," said Tesa Wilson, president Community Education Council in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. "It's tax dollars being poured into a black hole with no accountability."

July 30, 2014


Dear Members of the SUNY Board of Trustees:

We, the undersigned members of the New York City (NYC) Council, oppose any further expansion of charter schools, urging you to hold off on authorizing new charter schools, until you address the lack of oversight and accountability in this rapidly growing sector.

On May 6, 2014, the NYC Council Committee on Education held an oversight hearing for charter schools, making it apparent that accountability measures and oversight have lagged behind the growth of charter schools.

Currently, New York State has 209 charter schools, with 183 (88%) of them in NYC. Recent changes to state law, pushed by Governor Cuomo and Wall Street financiers, aim to make further charter school expansion easier but fail to address the need for common sense regulation.

Both the NYC Council and the SUNY have a shared responsibility to ensure that our public school dollars are spent wisely and that all of our public school students, both traditional and charter, receive the best education possible.

We ask that the following concerns that arose at the hearing be addressed before any further expansion of charter schools takes place:

  • Examination of harsh discipline practices;
  • High teacher and student attrition rates;
  • Exclusionary admissions practices, as witnessed by the significantly reduced percentage of students with special needs, English Language Learners and over-the-counter students, as compared to district averages;
  • Discriminatory marketing practices, which include marketing materials only in English as well as marketing to specific groups of individuals;
  • Lack of transparency with how public dollars are being spent;
  • Parent handbooks and school policies not being made publicly available; and
  • The practice of shutting schools down to engage in political activity.

Lastly, the Annenberg Institute for School Reform recently released a report entitled Public Accountability for Charter Schools in New York City: Common-Sense Regulation and Oversight for the Future,” which details how all NYC students can benefit from increased regulation and oversight of the charter school sector. We ask that you review this report and implement the recommendations contained therein.

We look forward to your response.


Daniel Dromm                                                Margaret Chin
Chair, Committee on Education                     1st District
25th District

Antonio Reynoso                                            Mark Treyger
34th District                                                     47th District         

Alan Maisel                                                     Andy King                             
46th District                                                     12th District

Deborah Rose                                                   Inez Barron
49th District                                                     42nd District                     

Stephen Levin                                                 Vincent J. Gentile
33rd District                                                     43rd District

 cc:        Hon. Andrew M. Cuomo, Governor
NYS State Capitol Building
Albany, NY 12224

Hon. Bill de Blasio, Mayor
City Hall
New York, NY 10007

Carmen Fariña, Chancellor
NYC Department of Education
52 Chambers Street
New York, NY 10007

Susan Miller Barker, Executive Director
Charter School Institute
State University of New York
41 State Street, Suite 700
Albany, NY 12207

State University of New York, Board of Trustees
H. Carl H. McCall, Chair
Joseph W. Belluck, Member
Henrik N. Dullea, Member
Ronald G. Ehrenberg, Member
Angelo M. Fatta, Member
Tina Good, Member
Eric Corngold, Member
Eunice A. Lewin, Member
Marshall A. Lichtman, Member
John L. Murad, Jr., Member
Peter K. Knuepfer, Member
Lori Mould, Member
Linda S. Sanford, Member
Richard Socarides, Member
Carl Spielvogel, Member
Cary F. Staller, Member
Lawrence J. Waldman, Member

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