Selected readings on US charter schools
Continuing a five-year trend, a record number of New York City students applied to charter schools for the coming academic year, according to a survey released Wednesday by a nonprofit group that supports charters.
The New York City Charter School Center estimated 70,700 children sought one of 21,000 open charter seats in the fall, a slight increase from the number who applied last year—due partly, according to the group, to the ease of a new online common application.
The center’s survey of the city’s 198 public charter schools found they received 212,500 applications, up from 181,600 last year, with students seeking spots at an average of three charters at a time. About half the applicants live in either Central Brooklyn, Harlem or the South Bronx.
About 49,700 students were on wait lists at the time of the survey’s spring snapshot, a slight decline from a year ago, thanks to the opening of 15 new charters, the New York City Charter School Center said.
The rapid expansion of charters—which are funded by taxpayers but operated independently—has been controversial. Supporters say that charters provide safe, innovative options that often lead to better test scores than traditional district schools. Critics say they drain resources and motivated families from the district, and serve fewer of the most challenging students.
Charter students make up about 6% of the city’s 1.1 million public-school students, and usually come from poor, minority families. The survey said that when combined with the approximately 66,700 students who are already in charter schools, and returning next year, the application numbers mean that 13% of public-school students attend a charter or want to do so.
“Demand for charter schools from parents continues to exceed the supply of seats by a high margin, as is the case with high-quality traditional district schools as well,” said James Merriman, chief executive officer of the New York City Charter School Center. “Sadly we have a long way to go before we can tell every parent that wait lists are a thing of the past.”
During his campaign last fall, Mayor Bill de Blasio said charters were emphasized too much during the tenure of Mayor Michael Bloomberg. But Mr. de Blasio has softened his tone lately, and his office found space last weekend for three Success Academy charters that had their sites revoked by the city two months ago.
“In a city as large and diverse as ours, it is wonderful to offer children and families many options,” a spokeswoman for the city Department of Education said regarding the wait-list report.
Source: The Wall Street Journal – byLeslie Brody