Uncommon Schools

training day

all clear

exclusive

making nice

Charter Schools

Dealing with discipline

focus on stem

in focus

Not Done Yet

New York

In remote Brooklyn areas, more charters means more decisions

When Emily Caton decided she wanted to send her daughter to a charter school, she navigated to the New York City Charter Center website, typed in her Brownsville zip code, and watched a stream of nearby schools flood her screen. Soon, her daughter had offers to attend six different charter schools, all in her area of Brooklyn. Just a few years ago, Caton's screen would have shown far fewer local charter school options. But today, after charter schools have flooded the area, neighborhoods in eastern parts of Brooklyn has more school seats and applicants than neighborhoods where charter schools flocked early on, like Harlem and the South Bronx. This year, Caton is one of 18,000 unique applicants to charter school lotteries in East New York and Brownsville. And the neighborhoods together have more than twice as many charter school seats as Harlem and the South Bronx, according to data provided by the New York City Charter Center. The growth of charter school options comes even as district school attendance in the neighborhoods has fallen over the past decade — and in recent years, has driven that drop. There are nearly 3,000 fewer elementary school seats in District 19, which includes most of East New York, than there were in 2003-2004, a 20 percent decrease. Middle school enrollment is down 25 percent over the same period. In the smaller District 23, which includes Brownsville, Ocean Hill, and part of East New York, the district has actually added about 800 middle school seats since 2003, a 30 percent hike, but elementary school enrollment has fallen by 30 percent.
New York

City lifts short-lived ban on letting charters open on Election Day

A screenshot from the website of Future Leaders Institute Charter School shows that the school had planned to hold classes tomorrow even though Department of Education schools are closed. It no longer has permission to remain open, following two back-to-back policy changes by the city. Reversing a decision made late last week, the Department of Education will provide school safety agents and other supports to dozens of charter schools that want to hold class on Tuesday. But the reversal came too late for some schools that had already canceled classes. On Friday, Chancellor Dennis Walcott decreed that no school housed in public space could remain open on Election Day because school safety agents were needed to fill in for other city workers pulled away to help with Hurricane Sandy relief. "For all schools in DOE space, regardless if you have applied/have a permit, no students may be in the building and no classes may be held on Election Day," Sonia Park, head of the department's Charter Schools Office, told school leaders on Friday afternoon. "Because of the storm, significant resources across the City will continued to be deployed for recovery efforts and therefore can not be available for schools in DOE buildings." The decision brought charter schools housed in district buildings into line with the rest of the city's schools, which were already scheduled to have the day off so that 700 schools could serve as polling sites. But it also snatched away a key element of the privately managed schools' autonomy: the right to set their own calendars. Dozens of charter schools were planning to hold classes to avoid a midweek interruption — particularly after Sandy caused them to miss five days of classes.
New York

In Harlem, charter school parents and students target NAACP

Students and families protested today in Harlem against the NAACP's involvement in a lawsuit against school closures and charter school co-locations with district schools. (Chris Arp) About 2,500 people rallied in Harlem this morning, calling on the NAACP to withdraw from its lawsuit with the teachers union against the city Department of Education. That lawsuit seeks to stop the closure of 22 schools as well as the placement of several charter schools in district school space. Speakers at Thursday’s rally included charter school parents and teachers, Harlem Children's Zone president and CEO Geoffrey Canada, and the actor Seth Gilliam from “The Wire,” whose child is a on a waiting list for a charter school. Speakers and attendees denounced the NAACP’s participation in a lawsuit they said would harm charter schools primarily serving students of color. "Ms. Dukes, turn your back on this lawsuit,” said Kathy Kernizan, the parent of a student at the Uncommon Schools charter network, referring to Hazel Dukes, president of the NAACP New York State Conference. A letter to Dukes with signatures from charter school advocates was circulated through the crowd asking the organization to withdraw from the suit. A spokesperson for the New York City Charter Center, which helped organize the event, said that more than 2,000 signatures had been collected this week. “We gotta demand quality education,” Canada told the crowd. “We have to be prepared to fight for that.” The city Department of Education's proposal calls for two of the charter schools associated with the Harlem Children's Zone, the Promise Academy charter schools, to be co-located inside district schools. The charter center spokesperson said the protest, held outside the Harlem State Office building at 125th Street, was not the work of any one organization. But at least two groups appear to have taken leading roles: the charter center, an advocacy and support organization for charter schools in the city, and the Success Charter Network created by Eva Moskowitz. Many of the families at the rally had children at one of the Success network's nine schools. (Seven of the network's schools are named in the lawsuit.) Click here for a slideshow of photographs from the rally.
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