|Saturday's Co-location Town Hall meeting|
While fourteen of these co-locations are for charters, twenty two are for non-charter schools. Five are for Success Academy charters. All of these co-locations, charter or not, will negatively impact the existing public schools, whose students will be squeezed out of the space they need for a quality education.
In fifteen of the co-locations, the building will be pushed to 100% utilization or higher, while all of these buildings would likely register above 100% if the DOE's enrollment projections were accurate and if the school utilization formula was properly aligned with the real needs of children, including smaller classes, a full complement of art, music and science rooms, and access to the cafeteria at a reasonable time of day.
|Public Advocate Tish James & Lori Podvesker, PEP member|
These co-locations will also hamper efforts to expand preK, prevent students with disabilities from receiving their mandated services in dedicated spaces rather than hallways or closets, and cause schools to lose their art, music and science rooms and/or be able to schedule lunch at a reasonable time.
These co-locations will also waste millions of dollars in precious funds, by replicating bureaucracy and out of classroom positions, as the numbers of classroom teachers continue to decline. In none of the approved co-locations were Community Education Councils, the elected representatives of public school parents, properly consulted before the proposals were made -- and in no case, did Chancellor Farina consult these bodies before deciding the 36 co-locations should go forward.
|Gloria Smith, President of District 75 President Council|
On Saturday, Public Advocate Tish James held a Town Hall meeting for CEC members and parents at the affected schools to ask them whether the lawsuit should continue, and the vote was unanimous that it should.
It was the best meeting I can remember in over 15 years of education advocacy, with parent after parent explaining with passion and in detail why these co-locations should never have been approved, describing the negative impact on their children's schools and the way in which their input had been ignored and the public engagement process deeply flawed. Throughout, Tish James listened carefully, was responsive and took notes.
|Arthur Schwartz, attorney|
But the entire process carried out by Portfolio has been corrupt and illegitimate from the start, as Tory Frye of CEC 6 pointed out, including the fundamentally inadequate community engagement, incomplete and deceptive Educational Impact Statements, and erroneous and manipulated enrollment projections. In some cases, DOE claimed there is excess space where children are still being educated in trailers; in at least one case, Richmond Hill HS, they are moving students into trailers to make room for a new school.
|Tesa Wilson of D 14 Community Education Council|
Indeed, these decisions were engineered by Marc Sternberg who headed DOE's Office of Portfolio until he moved over to the Walton Foundation shortly thereafter-- an organization whose primary goal is to privatize our public education system.
Unfortunately, the officials appointed by Sternberg at Portfolio are still there, justifying their wrong-headed policies with the same arrogant indifference to community input, as well as to the overwhelmingly negative impact their decisions will have on NYC children. In fact there are twenty five more co-locations now posted for a vote in May that were never proposed by the previous administration, but presumably were in Portfolio's pipeline when Bloomberg and Sternberg departed -- including a charter school co-location that will create an official utilization figure of 141%.
Two of the members of this DOE taskforce were at Saturday's meeting, Shino Tanikawa, President of the Community Education Council of D2 in Manhattan, and Tesa Wilson President of the CEC in District 14 in Brooklyn, and both voted to support the lawsuit.
What Fariña should have done is suspended all future co-locations until the work of that task force could be completed.
If you'd like to get a sense of some of the testimony yesterday, please check my tweets @leoniehaimson. Nick Fox of the NYTimes tweeted the following:
Check out @leoniehaimson's tweets from Tish James's mtg on charter school co-location. Real stories, not rhetoric.Unfortunately, the NY Times did not send a reporter and as usual is MIA. The only paper to report on the event, ironically enough, was the NY Post, which predictably focused solely on the charter co-locations and how the lawsuit might interfere with their lotteries.
— Nick Fox (@NickFoxNYT) March 8, 2014
Please sign our letter below in support of lawsuit going forward, as well as in support of the Public Advocate and the Speaker, who are standing up for our kids and putting themselves in the line of fire of the tabloids, the charter lobby and the privateers behind them.
Just send your name, school/district, and position if any, to firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to sign onto the letter below; if you believe that public school kids deserve the right to a quality education, with small classes, a well-rounded education, and to be educated in real classrooms rather than trailers and eat lunch at a reasonable time, rather than 9:45 AM in the morning.
- In every case, they will either result in an increase in class size, or make it impossible to reduce class size in the future, despite the fact that class sizes in many grades are now the largest in 15 years and the mayor has pledged to reduce them significantly by the end of his term. Moreover, the state’s highest court has concluded that the class sizes of NYC students must be lowered for them to receive their constitutional right to an adequate education.
- They will hinder the ability of schools to address the needs of students requiring special education services by providing adequate space, as well as the ability of schools to address the learning needs of English language learners.
- They will also restrict the amount of space available to expand preK, an important program and one of this administration’s top priorities.
- Because the DOE has in recent years redefined a full-size classroom as only 500 square feet, down from 750 square feet, and the building code requires 35 sq. ft per Kindergarten student and 20 sq. ft. per student in other grades, many of the classrooms in these schools will trigger violations in the building code, risking children’s safety.
- In all cases, the addition of new schools requires the creation of new, unnecessary bureaucracy with excessive numbers of administrative positions when resources could be better used on instruction.
- None of these damaging impacts on safety, learning conditions and/or spending are reflected in the Educational Impact Statements.
- In cases involving co-location of charter schools, the allowance of rent-free space results in their receiving more funds per capita than non-charter schools, creating inequities within school buildings, with two classes of students, one with smaller classes, more resources and programs, and the other with larger classes, and fewer resources and programs.
- In all cases, the DOE has ignored the input of parents, community members, and Community Education Councils, who have opposed these co-locations for the reasons cited above and more.