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Is This the Future of NYC's Charter Schools?

NYC Leaders Hold Press Conf. Urging New Iranian President To Carry Out Reforms

When Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio takes office on January 1, New York City’s charter schools are going to encounter some trouble. De Blasio has made it very clear that unlike his predecessor, his administration would like to stem the growth of charter schools, arguing that the city has as many as it needs. Specifically, he has called for “well-resourced” charter schools to pay rent when using empty space in public school buildings, where the Bloomberg administration had let them use space rent-free. While De Blasio argues that the city’s charters have more than enough money to easily afford it, the New York Times took a look at the experience of one of the city’s charters already paying rent, and the picture looks rather different. Although the school has been able to succeed while paying rent, over 15 percent of its budget goes toward rent (and some schools spend as much as 22 percent) taking away money that could be spent on core activities like hiring better teachers or keeping the facilities in order:

Classrooms were furnished with desks and chairs donated by a nursery school in the West Village that had closed. There was no receptionist or security guard, so staff members took turns answering the phones and tending the front door. There was no lunch aide or custodian, either. “We’ve gotten really good at plunging toilets,” Mr. Wilson said. […]

While waiting for its new building, the school rented more space down the street in a Police Athletic League community center for $110,000 a year, increasing the total rent bill to $239,000. The makeshift arrangement, which split the school into two sites, stretched into two years because of construction delays.

Chris Whitney, 31, a second-grade teacher, recalled that he taught in a windowless room in the basement of the community center. When a water pipe broke last winter, there was no water or heat for several days, so he took his students on field trips to the Bronx Zoo and the American Museum of Natural History. “If you’re in a gray, dreary environment, that starts to wear on you,” Mr. Whitney said. “We persevered and created something beautiful last year, but it was through a lot of struggle.”

This hasn’t destroyed the school, but it has led to a tripling of the rent and caused the school to run its first shortfall in its history. Bill de Blasio’s tenure many not mean the end of charter schools in New York City, but it will make them considerably more difficult to operate. With the cutback in city aid for charter schools, de Blasio appears committed to fighting one of the most promising things happening in city.

[Bill de Blasio photo courtesy of Getty Images]

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  • Corlyss

    De Blasio’s administration will mimic Obama’s: i.e., it will be 100% ideology 100% of the time and a totally fact-free zone.

  • Bruce

    De Blasio is similar to most leftists. Success of schools outside the conventional public school system is a negative and must be discouraged. These leftists don’t care about “the children.” They care about their power. I hope VM does not think that De Blasio is “well intentioned.” He isn’t.

    • Corlyss

      Nobody ever holds Dims accountable for their results. People judge Dims by their intentions, which means in the marketplace of ideas, Dims always win.

  • Kavanna

    The goal, as in the 1960s and most of the 70s, is to bleed to city dry for the benefit of the unions. Will NYC rescue itself again, as started to when it discovered Ed Koch?

  • Gipper

    Charter Schools Under Attack…..

    What conceivable reason are charter schools in NYC being
    attacked other than to protect the teacher’s union?

    Many of us have followed the plight of NYC Charter
    Schools. They are under a vicious attack
    with the intention of eliminating them entirely. How, buy kicking them out of school buildings
    they currently share, reversing Bloomberg era decisions to place new ones, take
    away a quarter of a billion of capital funds dedicated to them and any other
    way Mayor DeBlasio and his band of merry men and women who have just taken
    office can conjure up.

    These charter schools have improved children’s lives,
    provided an education most were not receiving in the NYC public school system
    and encouraged them to become outstanding members of the community.

    I defy anyone to provide a logical and realistic reason as
    to why the mayor and his friends are taking this position other than to please
    the teacher’s union. Why? There simply isn’t any other reason.

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