Selected readings on US charter schools
Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration said Tuesday that it would provide free space in public school buildings to a dozen new or expanding charter schools, including 10 run by Eva S. Moskowitz, one of the mayor’s fiercest rivals on the issue.
The city announced its decision on space requests for 24 schools, and while Success Academy, Ms. Moskowitz’s charter network, agreed to delay its request for space to house six schools, none of the standing requests were rejected.
Specific locations have not yet been chosen for the 10 new or expanding Success Academies, which will open in the 2016-17 school year, and many of the districts may change, as well. But even for many schools that received a “no” on Tuesday, the process of finding space is most likely to continue.
Charter schools flourished and multiplied during the Bloomberg administration, which eagerly handed many charter schools — which are publicly financed but privately run — space in public school buildings free of charge. Mr. de Blasio, however, was critical of the addition of charter schools during his mayoral campaign, saying they siphoned resources from traditional schools.
Shortly after taking office, Mr. de Blasio denied three requests for space from Ms. Moskowitz, and was treated to a barrage of television advertisements in response, as well as a rally in Albany, in which Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo pledged his support to charter schools.
In March, the State Legislature passed a law granting broad protection to the growth of charter schools. It said that the city must provide them with free space or the schools can appeal to the state. If the schools win, the city has to help pay for the schools to rent private space, which can be an expensive proposition, especially in New York City.
Success Academy received the bulk of the good news on Tuesday, but two Icahn Charter Schools were approved for expansion, as well. The list of schools that were rejected included three from Achievement First, a large charter network, and Voice Charter School, a small school in Queens that has been praised by Chancellor Carmen Fariña.
“Our objective is to lift up every child, no matter the neighborhood they live in or the school they attend,” Ms. Fariña said in a statement on Tuesday. “These decisions reflect our focus on ensuring there is necessary space for school children to thrive while continuing to provide an equitable education for all students no matter of the ZIP code they live in.”
James Merriman, chief executive of the New York City Charter School Center, said that because the law requires charter schools to request space first, getting a “no” can actually be good news for those that would prefer money to help pay the rent. Some schools that were rejected Tuesday fall into that category, Mr. Merriman said, and over all, he welcomed the city’s announcement.
“It’s good to see that clearly the moratorium on charter school co-location has ended,” Mr. Merriman said.
On Friday, the state Education Department issued its first decision on a space appeal since the new law passed, saying the city must help the Rosalyn Yalow School pay for private space.
Source: NY Times by Elizabeth Harris
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