Beth Fertig is the contributing editor for education, covering the New York City public school system for WNYC on air and online at SchoolBook.org. She has covered education in the city for more than 15 years. Beth is the author of Why cant u teach me 2 read? Three Students and a Mayor Put Our Schools to the Test (FSG Books) which grew out of a radio series on the low graduation rate for special education students. Follow her @bethfertig.
"Substantial" Change Needed to Convert Schools
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
New York, NY —
Mayor Bloomberg has offered to help the Diocese of Brooklyn convert four Catholic schools into charter schools. But as WNYC's Beth Fertig reports, the church and the city are wading into unchartered waters.
REPORTER: State law prohibits a private school from being converted into a charter school. But technically, the Catholic schools could close and then reopen so long as they're substantially different. Peter Murphy, policy director for the New York State Charter Schools Association, says that means they might need a different board, staffers, or even different assets and property.
MURPHY: There's an ability to do that right now but there just has to be enough of a difference between what's operating now and what would become the charter school.
REPORTER: The schools would also have to take down their crucifixes and teach the regular state curriculum. Mayor Bloomberg wants legislators to grant an exemption to a law requiring them to hold lotteries, so students in the existing Catholic schools could remain. Bloomberg has said he's willing to help the financially-strapped Diocese turn four schools into charters to avoid overcrowding the public schools. For WNYC, I'm Beth Fertig.