Thursday, October 01, 2009


Plan Would Double the Number of Charter Schools and Expand the Number of Seats to 100,000 by 2013, Giving Parents an Unprecedented Level of Choice in Their Child’s Education
Building on a proven track record of success, Mayor Mike Bloomberg today announced a plan for a historic expansion of New York City’s charter schools. The announcement, which took place at the 10 year anniversary celebration of the very first charter school in New York State, the Sisulu-Walker Charter School of Harlem, would create 100 new charter schools, doubling the number currently in the city. The plan would also expand the Harlem Children’s Zone and create two new “Children’s Zones” in Central Brooklyn and the South Bronx. As a result of these changes, 100,000 charter school seats – nearly 10% of all public school seats – would exist in New York City by 2013. This influx of new seats would provide parents with an unprecedented number of high-quality educational choices.
The success of New York City’s charter schools is indisputable. Stanford University Professor Caroline M. Hoxby recently released a comprehensive study that found that students who were accepted into charters – who are more likely to come from poor families – performed nearly as well on state math and reading tests as students who attended school in the affluent Westchester suburb of Scarsdale. Professor Hoxby’s research found that it is the charter schools themselves – and not the pool of self-selecting students – that makes the difference. Students who gain admission to a charter school via the randomized lottery perform better than students who participate in the same random lottery, but do not get a seat due to oversubscription
“Charter schools have paved the way for huge jumps in student achievement. To build on their success, we need to do two things – create more seats and get them the support they need to thrive,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “The more we can give these exceptional schools the chance to build on their success and grow, the sooner we can empower both parents and students and give our kids the edge they need to succeed in a hyper-competitive world.”
“Ten years ago, the first charter schools were born in New York City. Over the last eight years, Mayor Bloomberg has led the way in growing these schools and making New York a national leader in the charter school movement,” said Geoffrey Canada. “The progress we’ve made has been terrific, and now Mike Bloomberg has a bold new plan to enable the charter school effort to reach full maturity. With a little additional support and a little less bureaucracy, we can provide 100,000 children with an excellent charter school education. I want to thank the Mayor for pushing these changes, and urge officials at all levels of government to get on board.”
“For the past decade, Sisulu-Walker has provided the students of Harlem with outstanding educational opportunities that exemplify the powerful impact of charter schools in New York,” said Martez Moore, Chairperson, Board of Trustees of Sisulu-Walker. “We are incredibly grateful to Mayor Bloomberg for his support in making the last ten years a success. And when his proposed expansion of charter schools is in place, I know we will make even greater strides for our students.”
Mayor Bloomberg’s plan would improve the City’s charter schools in three main areas:
  • Eliminate the Cap on the Number of Charter Schools – New York State law caps the number of charter schools that may be created at 200. Only 31 charters remain available, with a significant number of proposals already pending. In 2005, the Mayor called for eliminating the cap on the number of charter schools. Though he was not successful in achieving his goal – the cap was raised in 2007, but not eliminated – it remains an important one, particularly given that President Obama’s Secretary of Education has linked education stimulus funding to the elimination of charter school caps.
  • Give the Chancellor Independent Chartering Authority – The Chancellor can give preliminarily approval to a charter school application, but the State Board of Regents must vote to give final approval to operate, a process that creates unnecessary delays. The Mayor will advocate for enabling legislation in Albany to give the mayor the same power over charter schools as was authorized under mayoral control for the rest of the public school system.
  • End the Ban on Pre-Kindergarten Students in Charter Schools – Under the State Board of Regent’s interpretation of current law, charter schools may only be created for kindergarten through high school. The Mayor will call on the State to clarify that existing law allows for the creation of pre-K charter schools classes, so that children can begin to get a high-quality education at a critical point in their development.
  • Allow Successful Charter School Boards the Opportunity to Run More than One School – Under existing law, a charter school board is limited to running only one charter school, even if they are affiliated with a high-performing charter management organization (CMO) that runs a number of charter schools. To free charter school operators from this burden, Mike will call on the State to change its law so that charter schools can serve students on multiple campuses without having to create a duplicate bureaucracy. The Mayor will also call on the State to change its law so that students from “feeder” schools will be given preference when applying to attend their charter’s middle and high school. These reforms will also enable schools to maintain consistency during a student’s education, a critical component of a charter schools’ success, and help parents who wish to continue their child’s charter school education.
  • Streamline the Charter Renewal Process for Successful Schools and Offer Extended Charters to the Most Successful Schools – Charter schools’ authorizing charters expire every five years. The Mayor will call for State legislation that will streamline the charter renewal process, as well as lengthen the authorization period for the best charter schools.
  • Create a Charter School Real Estate Task Force – The Mayor will convene a task force made up of charter school leaders, philanthropists, real estate developers, non-profit organizations, municipal agencies, along with education officials and the School Construction Authority to come up with innovative ways to finance new buildings and use existing available space to accommodate charter schools.
  • Leverage Capital Funding to Build New Charter Schools – The recently adopted 5-year capital plan allocates a little over $200 million for charter school construction. To ensure that these dollars lead to the construction of as many seats as possible, Mike will use those funds as leverage to raise another $100 million in private funds to underwrite the construction of new charter school buildings.
  • Partner with NYCHA to Provide Facilities and Property For Charter Schools – Using the opening of the first charter school on NYCHA property – Coney Island Prep – as a model, the Mayor’s plan will look for similar opportunities to expand charter schools to more NYCHA facilities across the city.
  • Expand the Harlem Children’s Zone – Under the leadership of Geoffrey Canada, the Harlem Children’s Zone has successfully changed the lives of children and adults throughout the area through its comprehensive full-day programming, all of which is centered around the extremely successful Promise Academy charter school. To help even more Harlem children obtain an excellent education and other worthwhile programming, Mike will work with the Harlem Children’s Zone to expand onto NYCHA property in Harlem.
  • Create Two New “Children’s Zones” – Working with charter school operators and community based organizations in two areas of the city that feature a significant number of successful charter schools, Central Brooklyn and the South Bronx, the Mayor will seek to utilize federal funding that is part of President Obama’s “Promise Neighborhoods” initiative to create two new “children’s zones.”
  • Create Support Network of Independent Charter School Operators – Independent charter schools, of which there are approximately 70 in the city, are likely to have fewer resources and yet they must handle time consuming administrative tasks on their own. To assist these schools, Mike will work with these independent charter schools and private sector charter school consultants to create a support network that will help charter schools better handle the administrative and “back office” tasks.
  • Create First-Ever City Charter School Guide – In order to provide information about charter school options, the Mayor will create a new charter school guide for parents, as well as incorporate information about charter schools in the City’s general public school guide.
  • Launch a Public Awareness Campaign for Parents, Especially Those for Whom English is a Second Language – The Department of Education, in cooperation with the New York City Charter School Center, will undertake a campaign to inform parents about the charter school options available to their children. This will take place on the web, via Public Service Announcements, MTA posters, billboards, radio spots and TV ads. The campaign will run in multiple languages, including Spanish.
  • Boost Special Education Efforts Through Training of Committees on Special Education – Special education students have special needs, and so an Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) is created for each child, a process that is overseen throughout the city by Committees on Special Education (CSEs). To ensure that the CSEs are familiar with the opportunities charter schools provide for students with disabilities, Mike will provide training to all CSEs about charter schools, the opportunities they provide for students with disabilities, and the obligations of the CSE to address the needs of students who attend charter schools. The City will then work with parents of special education to inform them about the charter school options that are available.

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