Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Fifty new charter schools; where will they go?

See article from today’s NY Sun profiling the new head of the charter school office at DOE, Michael Duffy.

Duffy comes from Boston. As he says about NYC, “Having the support of the mayor and the schools in New York City…will be a relief.”

It’s clear from this piece that Bloomberg and Klein are among the very few officials in charge of running public school systems anywhere in the country who support the expansion of charter schools in their districts – since most superintendents believe that these schools draw resources and sometimes space from existing public schools.

To the contrary, the Mayor and the Chancellor pushed hard to allow the cap on charters in NYC to be raised so that they could create 50 more of these schools. Already, $60 million for charter schools has been subtracted from the state funds supposed to improve our traditional public schools in NYC, as a result of the settlement of the Campaign for Fiscal Equity lawsuit.

Moreover, charter schools have significant advantages that most public schools do not have --especially the ability to cap enrollment at whatever level that is desired to keep class sizes small, which is appealing to parents, but tends to create more disparities in the opportunities provided children who attend these schools compared to those in the rest of the system.

As to where all these new charter schools will go:

Mr. Duffy said solutions he is mulling include securing longterm building leases for charter schools rather than making full purchases; renovating existing buildings, and delaying many charter schools' start dates until just before Mr. Bloomberg's term ends, September 2009, so that they have time to secure buildings. "All of the easy options for charter schools to locate in city space have been taken," he said. "We're going to have to get more creative about the locations for these schools."

Another challenge is a new requirement that charter schools hold a community hearing before opening. In the past, community members have greeted charter schools with skepticism.”

Yet the new requirement that founders of charter schools must actually present their plans to parents at Community Education Council meetings does not require that the locations of their schools be disclosed, whether they have secured financing for buildings, or whether, as many parents fear, DOE still harbors secret plans to jam them into existing already overcrowded school buildings, as was the practice in the past.

The location of any new charter school should be required as part of the application process – and reported to the public and to the Regents, before the application is approved. Without this information, it will be impossible to gauge the school's likely impact on existing schools.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Fifty new charter schools; where will they go? -- They'll go behind a tenant's back to negotiate with the landlord to lease a space out from under the current tenant. Who is the tenant they took the space from? A church!