Selected readings on US charter schools
The office of Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York announced on Saturday that it has found space for three charter schools that had been at the heart of a battle between the new mayor and Eva S. Moskowitz, the leader of a high-performing charter network.
According to a statement from the mayor’s office, the three schools, Harlem Success Academy 4, Success Academy Jamaica and Success Academy City Hall, will move into former Catholic school buildings that the city will lease from the Archdiocese of New York. The schools are run by Success Academy Charter Schools, founded by Ms. Moskowitz.
Wiley Norvell, a spokesman for Mr. de Blasio, said the terms of the lease would soon be finalized. The buildings are in Harlem, Upper Manhattan and Rosedale, Queens, the statement said.
“The new locations replace co-location proposals previously halted by the Department of Education due to clear and consistent criteria established to ensure high-quality learning opportunities for all students,” the statement said.
“Under the agreement, the city will provide for leasing and renovations to ensure a high-quality school environment for students,” the statement added. “Each site has program space commensurate with that of the original co-location proposals.”
The arrangement comes after months of animosity between Mr. de Blasio and Ms. Moskowitz. During the campaign for mayor last year, Mr. de Blasio, a Democrat, criticized Ms. Moskowitz and her charter schools, which the administration of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg had provided with free public school space. Mr. de Blasio said then he considered the charters emblematic of problems caused by independent education providers in the school system and that he would charge them rent.
In February, Mr. de Blasio announced that nearly all charter schools could stay at their current locations, but that these three would have to move because they impeded programs for students with disabilities and forced elementary school students to attend classes in high school buildings.
A charter advocacy group, Families for Excellent Schools, then began a $3.6 million advertising campaign protesting the mayor’s decision. In March, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo defended charters’ role in city education at a rally at the Capitol in Albany while Mr. de Blasio held one in support of his prekindergarten plan nearby. (Both the mayor and governor maintained that the rallies were unrelated.)
The state budget that Mr. Cuomo and legislative leaders announced later that month prohibited the city from charging charters rent and required it to find public school space for them or pay much of the cost for a private location.
Mr. Norvell said that a legal complaint filed by Success Academy to the state’s Education Department had been dropped and that Mr. Cuomo’s office had helped find a solution.
For her part, Ms. Moskowitz said she was glad that the political tilting between her and Mr. de Blasio seemed to be at an end.
“I’m heartened we’ve been able to put politics behind us and establish a positive working relationship,” Ms. Moskowitz said in a statement. “With valuable guidance and support by Governor Cuomo, we have advanced our shared goal of improving educational opportunities.”
Source: New York Times – by Daniel E. Slotnik