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new york city charter school center
October 2, 2018
Mayor de Blasio almost proposed a universal enrollment system for district and charter schools, emails show
Early in de Blasio’s administration, emails show, the idea was initially met with approval from other senior officials.
February 6, 2018
Charter advocates descend on Albany but could see fewer battles in 2018
In some ways, charters are in a secure space because the sector isn’t fighting potentially harmful legislation.
May 15, 2015
Saying mayoral control is at stake, a charter leader asks de Blasio for support
Mayor Bill de Blasio will get what he wants on mayoral control if he helps lobby to raise the charter school cap, NYC Charter School Center CEO James Merriman insisted.
November 21, 2014
Charter CEO: Fariña has 'obligation' to release data after push-out claims
After Farina suggested on Thursday that some charter schools were pushing kids out ahead of tests and selectively recruiting high-performing students, Merriman fired back with a 400-word statement that called on her to use her authority as the city's top education official and investigate some of her suspicions.
October 1, 2013
Report: District-charter special ed gap not from "counseling out"
Stories of charter school officials telling — or hinting to — high-needs students that they should look elsewhere for their educational needs have long fueled criticism of the charter sector. But a new report from the Center on Reinventing Public Education argues that "counseling out" is not the cause of the special education gap between the city's district and charter elementary schools. In New York City, 13.1 percent of charter school students receive special education services, compared to 16.5 percent of district school students. Using lottery data from 25 charter elementary schools and information from the city, researcher Marcus Winters found two main reasons for the gap: that fewer students with disabilities apply for kindergarten spots at charter schools, and charters classify fewer students as needing special education services once they start school. The report was not mean to "fully explain away what is a well-documented disparity," New York City Charter School Center CEO James Merriman said at a discussion at the center on Monday. "What it does do, importantly, is demonstrate conclusively that a significant number of charter schools in New York City are having success in keeping children from inappropriately being classified in the first place as needing special education services and at the same time, hopefully giving them a far better chance at success in their school careers," Merriman said.
July 10, 2013
NYC Charter School Center expands beyond NYC
The city charter sector’s leading resource and advocacy center’s latest initiative is aimed at helping charter schools outside of the city. The New York…
July 8, 2013
State looks to tighten leash on student mobility data for charters
Already a lightning rod in the city's mayoral race, charter school enrollment patterns are getting renewed scrutiny at the state level. Chancellor Merryl Tisch and her colleagues on the Board of Regents have asked state education officials for months to increase transparency around student attrition data for charter schools. At June's Board of Regents meeting, Tisch echoed concerns from critics who charge that some charter schools prop up their test scores by encouraging high-need students to enroll elsewhere. "I would make a list of charter schools that have ushered out 5 [or] 10 percent of their kids in the first six [or] seven weeks," Tisch said. "Make a list of the ones who are ushering them out right before testing." Now, state education officials have announced that they are developing a way to spotlight exactly that issue. A proposed "stability index" would use regularly reported enrollment data to flag suspicious trends, such as high discharge rates at the beginning of the year or right before state testing at the end of the year.
June 12, 2013
Liu stands his ground, Weiner impresses in charter-led forum
Former congressman and mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner poses with a parent and student from Girls Prep Bronx at a forum led by charter school parents Tuesday night. Many parents gave Weiner a favorable review. Some mayoral candidates who have been critical of charter schools avoided uncomfortable questions by skipping a forum hosted by charter school advocates Tuesday night. But Comptroller John Liu not only showed up but said he would issue a potentially crippling blow to the charter sector if he becomes mayor. Liu said he would charge rent to charter schools that occupy space in city buildings, reversing a Bloomberg administration policy of awarding unused space in school buildings to charter schools that want to operate there. The policy has allowed the city's charter sector to flourish. City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and former congressman Anthony Weiner — who emerged as the audience's clear favorites — both said they would not consider charging rent, something that some critics of charter schools want the next mayor to do. "The model of charter schools is in part based on not paying rent," Quinn said. "So if you say you're going to pay rent, then you're not going to have charters."
May 7, 2013
In new ad campaign, city's charter sector aims to explain itself
On each side of the split screen, a girl with long hair and a puffy white coat walks to school, where she works on a writing assignment, raises her hand to answer a question, watches the clock, and walks past a bulletin board plastered with student work. Then the divider disappears and the two girls leave the building hand in hand to stack blocks on a crowded playground.
April 16, 2013
Number of charter school common apps nearly tripled this year
The number of families applying to city charter schools through an online system designed to ease the admissions process doubled this year, according to the New York City Charter School Center. This was the second year that the Common Online Charter Application, which the charter center developed, was open to all charter schools for use. The application deadline was April 1. The number of individual students who submitted the common application rose from 7,130 last year to 15,805 this year. Together, they submitted 58,117 applications, more than three times as many as last year, meaning that the average applicant applied to more schools this year. A total of 145 schools, up from 110 last year, accepted the common application. (Many schools also had their own applications, so the number of common applicants does not reflect all charter school applicants this year.) In offering a common application, the charter center is responding to criticism that having to fill out multiple schools' applications discourages all but the most motivated parents and effectively screens out needy students. The common application also enables families to apply easily to multiple schools — a data point the charter sector points to as evidence that the public wants more charter schools.
July 30, 2012
Charter school opts out of free public space in favor of a gym
Urban Dove's website features a clock that is counting down to the first day of classes at the nonprofit's new charter school. For most of this spring, Urban Dove Team Charter School’s story followed a familiar trajectory. When the Department of Education offered the charter school space in a public school building, the community erupted in opposition. Politicians stepped in, principals went to the press, and parents protested — all with the goal of keeping the charter school out. Then the city signed off on the co-location anyway, and tensions started to die down. That’s when Urban Dove’s story took an unusual turn. Despite getting free public space — a hotly sought-after commodity — Urban Dove signed a lease this month to spend some of its scarce per-pupil funding on private space. Next month, the transfer high school will open on one floor of Bedford-Stuyvesant’s Brooklyn Tabernacle Church. It was a rare move for a charter school offered a public building. Most charter schools prefer to open in buildings owned by the city to save money and time spent negotiating with landlords, according to James Merriman, director of the New York City Charter School Center. Plus, money for real estate comes from charter schools' operating budget — meaning the more they spend on space, the less they have for teachers, supplies, and programming. Urban Dove’s founder and principal each declined to share the terms of the lease. But they said undertaking the significant expense made perfect sense for the school, which will serve students who have already fallen behind before they turn 16.
April 30, 2012
Delayed charter sector self-assessment balances praise, critique
A chart comparing district and charter schools' principal turnover rates, from today's "State of the Sector" report. A sweeping look at who attends charter schools in New York City, and how they fare, shows that the sector excels at advancing academic achievement but struggles to enroll high-needs students and to retain staff. For the past nine months the New York City Charter School Center and a team of charter school founders have collected and crunched data on 35 different topics, including test scores, demographics, attrition, and enrollment. Their findings are laid out in a much-anticipated — and much-delayed — 40-page "State of the Sector" report, released today. The report represents an inaugural effort to be more transparent about how charter schools in New York City are doing. Coming from a group that more often celebrates charter schools' achievements, the report offers a blunt self-assessment of the sector, illuminating its shortcomings in student enrollment and staff retention while at the same making a case for it to continue to expand. For instance, the report acknowledges "striking" staff attrition trends — nearly one-third of city charter school teachers leave annually — but points out the sector's ability to achieve high academic results anyway. And while the schools serve low rates of students with special education and English language learners, the report emphasizes that those who do enroll tend to do better than their counterparts in district schools. The report was originally scheduled to be released nearly two months ago. But the center needed more time to verify the data, then held the report until it could be released along with "dashboards" showing individual schools' statistics, according to CEO James Merriman. Those dashboards were published on the center's website today, although they have withheld some data, including staff attrition.
March 16, 2012
Charter sector report delayed weeks while schools verify data
Last week, I reported that the city's charter school sector was on the verge of releasing a trove of data about its schools. I began my reporting after I learned about the plan in February, and a week ago, I learned that the organization in charge of the report had big plans for the report's release. The organization, the New York City Charter School Center, sent an advisory a week ago announcing Monday as the big day and inviting reporters to an 11 a.m. press conference to learn about the report, which would compile data about the schools' performance and their students. But those plans were scrapped over the weekend. On Sunday afternoon a spokeswoman for the charter school center emailed to say that the "State of the Sector" report was being delayed because all of the data had not been verified. Now, four days after the promised release, the report is still not out. The spokeswoman, Kerri Lyon, said the report would now come "within a few weeks" and that the center would release the overview report at the same time as it publishes individual school-level data online. The delay is a surprise because a 12-person committee made up of charter school operators led by the center's policy director, Michael Regnier, was already charged with verifying the data in the report. Lyon said Thursday that charter schools were now validating some of the data about their own schools before the report's release.
March 9, 2012
Charter sector set to release pool of data about its schools
The city's charter schools are preparing to release reams of data about themselves — some of which could make them uncomfortable. The data, prepared for release on Monday by the New York City Charter School Center, will include measures that are often used to promote the schools, such as student test scores, as well as data points often used to criticize them, such as student demographic information and student and teacher attrition rates. The new report, a 40-page document called "State of the Sector," will be followed by individual dashboards for all 136 city charter schools published on the center's website. The project was modeled after an effort by the national KIPP charter school network to hold schools accountable for more than the most-often-used metric, how their students perform on tests, by tracking other measures deemed important for what the network calls "healthy schools." These include the percentage of students and teachers who stay in the schools year after year. In advance of Monday's release, KIPP C.E.O. Richard Barth was invited to the charter center to brief a room full of charter school leaders and share his insights from KIPP's initiative.
October 28, 2011
Congressional hopeful Jeffries firms up charter school support
Dania Reid, of the Charter Parent Action Network, speaks at a town hall event with elected officials. If charter school advocates had any concern that Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries wasn't on their side, he lay their worries to rest last night. Jeffries, a U.S. House of Representatives hopeful who has not always supported charter schools in his district, pledged his full-fledged support to charter school parents and backers at a town hall event hosted by the New York City Charter Center. "The aspirations of parents such as yourself, who just want to find a vehicle to provide young children with the opportunity to get the best possible education ... is one that I will always support, notwithstanding the consequences from those who may want to defend the status quo," Jeffries said. The event reflected a move among supporters of the city's policy of closing struggling schools and replacing them with new options, including charter schools, to preempt the heated fights over co-location that engulfed the city last year. Nineteen new charter schools are slated to open in the city next year, and the city is hoping to house many of them in public school buildings. Thursday's event took place in Bedford-Stuyvesant's New Beginnings Charter School, a second-year school located in a private facility owned by the Archdiocese of New York. It was the first such event organized by the center's parent advocacy group, the Charter Parent Action Network. According to David Golovner, a vice president for the center, the network is working with parents in dozens of charter schools this year to help mobilize support in areas where charter schools are more densely located and where more are likely to open in the future.
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