Archives For charters


4.8.14 Eng-flyer

Join parents, students, educators and community members at this important rally on Thursday at 4:00. Meet in front of the steps of the New York City Public Library @5th Ave. and 41st Street with a march to Governor Cuomo’s office to follow. On Facebook here:

By Julie Cavanagh

Teacher/Chapter-Leader P.S.15k

Last week charter schools received a windfall to the tune of tens of millions of potential dollars in free space, either in a public school or in a city-subsidized private space, more per pupil funding than public schools, and an essentially unfettered ability to expand at the expense of existing public schools.

The charter school giveaways in last week’s budget were nothing short of a death sentence for the sustainability of New York City’s public school system:

  • The financial burden of providing and paying for charter school space and services for co-locations will be crippling. This will be especially difficult once the cap of 200 charter schools is reached. There are 52 charter schools left on the cap in NYC, but there will be “more” because existing charters can expand grades without being included in the cap. So, for example, if a charter opened as an elementary, it can expand to include middle school and/or high school grades without a cap deduction. In addition, the Cuomo-led legislation to provide space to charters — only in NYC — is an unfunded mandate. The city is required to find the resources to pay. Only after $40 million is spent on private charter rent, will the state contribute to an undetermined amount of assistance. We need funding policies that will support the facilities and space needed for the approximately 94%[i] of public school children learning in overcrowded and substandard facilities.
  • Charters schools receive MORE per pupil funding than public schools. This creates even greater inequity in our school system favoring the approximately 6% of NYC’s school children who currently attend charter schools. Combine that with the millions in private funding charters receive from millionaire and billionaire donors who have an interest in privatizing our education system and the goal becomes clear: undermine and dismantle every child’s right to go to the school of his or her choice. The new policy will force students fill out an application, win a lottery, and adhere to undemocratic governance and a set of rules that leave families vulnerable to discrimination and push-out, not to mention increased segregation in an already segregated school system. We need policies that seek to create equity and increase the integration of our school system, not make it worse.
  • The language in the budget seems to suggest that an existing charter in a public school cannot be prevented from expanding, which it will do at the expense of the existing public school. We need policies that seek to expand our existing public schools. There are many more public schools serving ALL of NYC’s children well and those schools and their best practices should be held up as models. Charters, by contrast, serve far fewer of our neediest children while boasting achievement numbers similar to public schools. The overwhelming majority of New York City families choose public schools and their rights should be respected and protected. They should not be forced into charters.
  • The new law requiring charter space puts the expansion of public schools in New York City at risk because it encourages charter school expansion over the expansion of public schools. New York City schools have some of the highest class sizes and most overcrowding in the state. We need support to help end this crisis, not make it worse.
  • The financial sustainability of our school system is at risk. As more public dollars are funneled into education corporations and charter schools, fewer public dollars are available for our public schools. At a certain point, and I have heard the “tipping point” is 10% enrollment in charter schools in NYC, we will reach a financial crisis that will make it impossible to balance the funding needs for both charters and public schools, thus allowing the kind of wholesale transfer of public schools to charter operators as we have seen in New Orleans and Philadelphia.


Governor Cuomo not only allowed the charter school windfall to be central to this year’s budget, he was one of, if not the, architect(s). The self-proclaimed “student lobbyist” is truly a charter-hedge-funder lobbyist beholden to campaign dollars in an election year and further influenced by his national political aspirations.


Legislators from around the state, save a brave few such as my own state Senator Montgomery and Harlem’s Senator Perkins whose constituents have experienced the horrors and inequity of charter co-locations and expansion first hand, said precious little and took no stand in rejecting this budget.


Our Mayor, who ran on putting an end to the favor of charters at the expense of our public schools and received a clear mandate to do so by the voters in our city, was at the very least powerless to stop the giveaway and at worst raised no vocal objection, perhaps considering funding for universal Pre-K a worthy enough win, even though charters will also have the right to open Pre-K.


Our own United Federation of Teachers did not mount a fight back against this. In fact, their poor policy choices have made it difficult for UFT leaders to do since they have co-located two union-run charter schools themselves. New York Communities for Change has withdrawn its participation in the parent-led co-location lawsuit, a lawsuit that seeks to charge charters rent for use of public space — a policy that will now be illegal in New York City if the provision in the state budget is not changed.


The true student-lobbyists, parents, students, rank-and-file educators and community members, must stand together to demand full funding and support for our public schools. We must make it clear that an investment in a system that serves ALL children that is governed by the people (however flawed in a system with mayoral control), not private unaccountable and non-transparent interests, is vital to the health and success of our children.


We must stand together and demand the schools our children deserve: facilities deserving of the wealthiest nation in the world, rich and well-rounded curriculum and services, experienced and supported educators, smaller class sizes, and the right to attend a neighborhood public school that is excellent AND open to all.


My school community experienced co-location first hand. We were fortunate to mount a fight back that ended our co-location. However, that win was bitter sweet, because the charter, PAVE Academy, was awarded more than 20 million dollars in precious capital funds to build its own building in our neighborhood. We also engaged in a less-known fight back for another charter expansion in our neighborhood, a charter that sought to further segregate the neighborhood by creating a “boutique” charter targeted at the gentrifying population of Red Hook. Thankfully that charter was not approved. We have learned from both of these experiences that charter space support and expansion in communities results in a negative impact on the community itself, causing unnecessary strain and tension, as well as on the existing schools, and in our case, a school that was and is a high quality option. But equally important, because these issues were at our doorstep, we also understand the deep systemic issues surrounding charters: the drive to privatize our public education system, the impact of charter push-out, the impact of a two-tiered system where one school is privileged over another, and the bigger picture of the undermining of public education and all that entails from worker protections, to funding, to the way children are treated.


MORE stands in solidarity with the approximately 94% of families who want high quality neighborhood schools for their children. We cannot achieve the promise of public education if the funding, facilities and services we need to provide are at-risk. Please join us and families across the city and send Governor Cuomo a message this Thursday: you are not our student’s lobbyist. You do not stand for children. You stand for your own political interests fueled by charter school dollars and we will hold you accountable!


[i] Charter school enrollment in 2011-2012 was 47,780 (according to’s report for capital fund projections) out of approximately 1.1 million school children in New York City., yielding an approximate 4% enrollment in charter schools at that time. Cited numbers currently range from 3%-6%. The New York City Charter school Center states approximately 70,000 children attend charter schools in NYC . Based on this information this post estimates current charter enrollment at 6% and public school enrollment at 94%.

Wanted: Andrew Cuomo

April 1, 2014 — 6 Comments
"Wanted: Andrew Cuomo"

If you see something, say something

"Charter School supporters rally in Albany Caution: ASTROTURFING IN PROGRESS"

And what would the response be if teachers shut down the public schools for a day to bus students to a political rally?



Stop School Closings Everywhere

On Monday, March 11th the Panel for Educational Policy  (PEP) will meet at Brooklyn Technical High School at 6 PM to vote on the closure of all 26 schools. They will also vote to replace and collocate many of the schools with charters schools. Join us at 5:00pm for a rally to oppose the senseless closing of our public schools and to support our students, parents, and educators. It is important that there is a very strong showing of support for the schools.

Check out MORE at Sheepshead Bay High School’s hearing

The Movement of Rank and File Educators of the UFT stands in solidarity with the impacted school communities and seeks to offer support in any way that we can.  The best way to fight a school closure is to organize the community, and speak out for your school. School closings can be the fate of any public school, all of us are potential ATRs. The time to take action is now!

The Mayor is ready to unilaterally close more of our schools, now is the time to ask questions and call for the immediate halt to this failed policy. Schools are places for education of course, but for our communities they are so much more. Schools have long served as the center of communities, parents gathered for many years at PA/PTA meetings, students participate in sports programs where friends and family watch from the stands, after-school programs give students the chance to expand learning outside of the classrooms, and the school yard has the been the pace where lifetime friendships have developed. We cannot allow the mayor and his rubber-stamp Panel for Education Policy committee continue to close our schools and ruin our communities.

What baffles us is how our government from the President down to Mayor has continuously told us that our banks and Wall Street firms are “Too Big to Fail”, yet they tell those same communities that your schools are too big to succeed. Why are our financial institutions bailed out with trillions of taxpayer money, but our schools are allowed to close? The economists don’t have any problem explaining to the world that allowing these gigantic institutions to fail would cause systematic destruction of our economy because all aspects are connected. Shouldn’t our government use that same philosophy for our schools, if we allow the school to be closed, aren’t we allowing the entire system to fail? Closing schools results in displaced students, teachers without classes to teach,  and communities without a center.

The city can start by keeping our schools open and then ensuring they have the same conditions as all schools have in every neighborhood. One New York City school should not have better textbooks, better labs, greater advanced technology and more after school programs than another. It’s time to equal the playing field and have all our students provided the same resources to succeed. Our government must reinvest in our public schools as they have reinvested in private banks.

We also have to deal with the socio-economic issues that our children are facing. Our students contend with academic challenges based on circumstances that they face in their daily life. MORE calls for full wrap around services  for schools that have been targeted for closing. Our bilingual students need increased individual attention and we need additional services for students with a variety of special needs. There needs to be an immediate increase in the number of guidance counselors, nurses, psychologists and social workers at our schools. The city has a large pool of excessed teachers and guidance counselors, its time to place these highly qualified professionals where they are needed most, in our most needy schools. The increase in staff will result in more services and lower class sizes for our children. The city should immediately increase funding to these schools so they can offer more robust after-school programs and weekend tutoring. Full utilization of federal and state child nutrition programs that offer healthy breakfast, lunch, and dinners are necessary for our students. This will allow our students and schools to succeed.

The Mayor, chancellor, and their rubber-stamp Panel for Education Policy, show complete disregard and disdain for the students, teachers and communities affected by this policy, inflicting unconscionable harm on them and ignoring the democratic process. School reform should involve all the stakeholders; school faculty, parents, community members, and students.

Many of the school closing decisions are based on the faulty and volatile testing data in the school progress reports, which ignore some of the most important things that happen in schools; electives, clubs, connections between teachers and students that meet students’ social and emotional needs. Charter schools are replacing schools slated to phase out.  Charters choose students by lottery. They serve far fewer ELLs and children with special needs, and counsel out students they believe won’t perform. Despite this, 80% of charter students perform the same or worse than students in public schools.

As Diane Ravitch has stated:
“It is easy to close schools, disperse the students and claim victory. But no school is improved and no student is helped by closing schools. Choice policies enable schools to avoid the students who are likely to lower the school’s test scores. These kids tend to get bounced from one “bad” school to another until they drop out. In Chicago, where many schools have been closed, most students were reassigned to other low-performing schools and gained nothing from the change.
What’s more, no nation with high-performing schools is pursuing the same policies as our government. None has a program to privatize large numbers of schools, and none relies on tests of basic skills to close schools and judge teachers”