Chancellor Joel Klein came to PS 33 in District 2 on Wednesday night. He told a number of outright lies to the assembled parents, assuming (I suppose) that we didn't know better. This is on top of all the misrepresentations and obfuscations.
- Klein said there are no for-profit charters in New York City. This is patently untrue. There are currently nine for-profit charters in operation in the city and more being considered.
- Klein said Contract for Excellence money is "fungible" in school budgets and this is why class sizes rose, despite billions more in state C4E funding. This is untrue. Contract for Excellence money is supposed to be targeted to specified purposes by state law and it is illegal to use it otherwise.
- Klein said he "wished we had more resources" for meeting the needs of special education students. Special ed services are also mandated by state law, and it has been well documented, by the Public Advocate's office among others, that under this administration, students with IEPs have not received the services and funds to which they are legally entitled.
- Klein also said that 5000 seats had been added to District 2. Where? The 2004-2009 and 2010-2014 capital plans funded about 7,000 seats, but most of these seats have not yet been built, and many are replacements. By my count there are under a thousand new D2 K-8 seats now in operation, and Manhattan has lost 1,000 high school seats in the last year alone to lapsed leases, but I would welcome a more detailed reckoning by the DOE.
- Klein said that enrollment projections are available on-line. The DOE has never made its full enrollment projection analysis available to the public or the CECs responsible for zoning. Only partial data and the discredited reports of a few expensive contractors are available on-line.
- Furthermore, Klein said repeatedly that charter schools would add seats to District 2. There is no way this is possible. School real estate in D2 is a zero-sum game, as he pointed out himself several times. Every new school that is added within an existing building removes seats to make space for additional administration and duplication of cluster rooms, and every new program that draws students from outside the district (as charters do) bumps out district students.
Unless charters can obtain their own space--which doesn't happen much in NYC--they can only subtract from the number of seats available to district students.
He also kept saying no sites are available in D2 and it is hard to find more, without commenting on the large number of sites put forward by parents (including most of those that have been developed under the last two capital plans). Parents have been pushing hard on various sites and the DOE refuses to put its weight behind these efforts.
---Ann Kjellberg, Public School Action Committee