Times Notices Conflicts Between Public Schools and Charters

The New York Times reports today that charter schools are sometimes in conflict with their public-school hosts, particularly as regards space, on which some P.S. personnel and parents think they get shafted: at Middle School 126 in Williamsburg, for example, access to the school library is granted to charter students "most of the day," while the school librarian "is expected to travel to individual classrooms to teach the public students library skills."

This is a rare perspective. Charter advocates point to the success rates of these private-public entities (though some dispute their conclusions), but usually don't much concern themselves with the students left out of them -- whether by parental abstention or because they've been "lotteried-out" -- even under charter-friendly administrations like New York's.

The Times is generally prone to generosity toward charters ("Immigrants See Charter Schools as a Haven"), and even when examining conflicts speaks of charters as the coming thing versus lackluster PS's ("Hidden amid the glossy charter school displays were the bare-bones posters of traditional public schools").

Grassroots public-charter conflicts are more often and thoroughly covered by bloggers, as with those who reported the throwdown between Marine Park parents and the incoming Hebrew Academy in May. (The Times reports the Academy has been relocated.)

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The city has 78 charter schools, 21 of them authorized this year. The Department of Education has authorized 15 more for 2010-11, which await State approval. The state has a cap on the number of charters permitted, and DOE won't press for more until it's lifted.

The DOE has been known to muscle public schools on behalf of charters and even sent workers unannounced to renovated classrooms at Harlem's PS 123 for use by an incoming charter, for which the Department later apologized.


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