New York City is perhaps the nation’s friendliest city for opening new charter schools thanks to recent changes in state law that will allow them to have space in traditional public school buildings or be paid the rent on privately-owned spaces. According to an article written by Ben Chapman and Stephen Rex Brown for the New York Daily News, the new law also allows per-pupil funding to increase to approximately $14,027 for the 2017-2018 school year from $13,527 per student.
Co-founder of the Bronx Early College Program Ric Campbell is excited about the change. His charter school is set to open in 2015, and if it qualifies, could use the $300,000 it previously spent on facilities into hiring four more teachers, student laptops, field trips to more colleges, or, possibly, more arts and music programs.
Not everyone is on board with the new breaks for charters. Zakiyah Ansari, advocacy director for the Alliance for Quality Education, recently said:
“Gov. (Andrew) Cuomo has given a green light to a separate and unequal school system that favors privately run charter schools and under funds traditional public schools.”
Charter schools are putting all their eggs in Gov. Cuomo’s basket, hoping that he will continue to support their brand of education. “It’s not just about putting more money in the public school system, it’s trying something new and that’s what charter schools are all about,” the governor has been quoted as saying.
This, too, is not to the liking of Ansari, who believes that, “political contributions from super-wealthy ideological promoters of privatization” are given too much ownership over education policy under this law. Ansari says they are taking the place of parents and communities, who should be in control of their children’s education.
Kyle Rosenkrans, vice president of policy and advocacy at the Northeast Charter Schools Network, says many charter schools are hoping they will be eligible to reap the benefits of the new law. He adds that there is some vague language in the law that will still need to be addressed.
Many expect a rush of applicants for the 52 spots that are still available for new city charter schools. Teachers are anxious to land spots in the new schools, as well. This number is added to the 21 approved charters set to open this year.
Some worry that the funding may attract charter school operators who have the wrong priorities. Campbell notes that going into the charter business for money will cause would-be mercenaries to be very disappointed.
Last weekend, members of the American Federation of Teachers, New York State United Teachers, and the Alliance for Quality Education held a protest in opposition to what they are calling anti-union activities by the Democrats for Education Reform, based on DFER’s acceptance of money from Republicans and ‘anti-union’ companies.