The New York State Board of Regents and State Education Department Should NOT Allow Charter Schools to Expand Beyond the Eighth Grade (A “Back Door” to Exceeding the Cap).

The cap on the number of charter schools in New York City has been reached and it appears unlikely that the legislature will increase the current cap. At the May, 2019 Board of Regents meeting a question was raised: if an existing charter school plans to extend its grades beyond the eighth grade, in essence creating a high school, would the new configuration constitute a new school and violate the cap?  The State Education attorney did not think so; the extended school would remain as a single charter entity.

The extended charter would essentially be creating a new high school, and, I believe, would not comply with the spirit and intent of the charter school law.

While the extension may, or may not, exceed the cap the extension does not comply with the reasons for the granting of a charter

The law lists specific reasons for the creation of charter schools,

 The purpose of this article is to authorize a system of charter schools to provide opportunities for teachers, parents, and community members to establish and maintain schools that operate independently of existing schools and school districts in order to accomplish the following objectives:

 (a) Improve student learning and achievement;

(b) Increase learning opportunities for all students, with special emphasis on expanded learning experiences for students who are at-risk of academic failure;

(c) Encourage the use of different and innovative teaching methods;

(d) Create new professional opportunities for teachers, school administrators and other school personnel;

(e) Provide parents and students with expanded choices in the types of educational opportunities that are available within the public school system; and

(f) Provide schools with a method to change from rule-based to performance-based accountability systems by holding the school

 Charter schools have primarily been located in geographic areas with low-achieving public schools offering parents an alternative to traditional public schools.

In New York City traditional public high schools are not “neighborhood schools.” The application process to high schools applies to all high schools and allows students to make twelve choices and matches students to schools; over 90% of students receive one of their top three choices.

There are 419 high schools and educational option programs within high schools. The choices of schools are extremely broad; the vast majority of schools are theme-based, from law to health sciences, to vocational subjects to culinary arts, the list is enormous and all encompassing In addition forty schools, the Consortium Schools, offer a portfolio system in lieu of regents examinations. The over 100  innovative PROSE schools  offer a wide range of alternative scheduling, from longer periods and fewer daily periods to trimesters instead of annual or semester systems, (See appendices on the link above for specific school innovations) The Internationals Network (16 schools) only accept students who have been in the country for less than four years, with extraordinary successes and far exceed student performance in charter schools. There are fifty Transfer High Schools for students who are overage and under-credited.

The current high school system provide(s) parents and students with expanded choices in the types of educational opportunities, as well as encourage(s) the use of different and innovative teaching methods and provides schools with a method to change from rule-based to performance-based accountability systems.

 The current elaborate system of high schools provides, within the current system, the goals that the charter school law lists.

There is no need for the creation of further charter high schools.

The adding of a ninth and additional grades in a current charter school is simply an attempt to bypass the cap,  is unnecessary, and antithetical to the law.

High school graduation rates have been steadily increasing. The school performance dashboards offer comparisons of schools as well as school specific data with a few clicks.

I would encourage the Regents and the State Education Department not to entertain any requests to expand grades beyond the eighth grade in any existing charter school.

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