Final Round of Bloomberg Co-Locations Incites Bitter Opposition

Wednesday, October 16, 2013 - 08:00 AM

Opponents to Mayor Bloomberg's co-location proposals, organized by the group New Yorkers for Great Public Schools, rallied ahead of the vote on co-locations. (Yasmeen Khan)

In the first of two meetings scheduled for October, the city’s Panel for Educational Policy on Tuesday night approved 17 new proposals to co-locate schools in existing school buildings, including opening 12 new schools. The proposals, set to take effect next school year, are some of the last moves by Mayor Michael Bloomberg to shape the school system before he leaves office.

In what has become a routine display, the meeting drew vehement opposition from those who criticize the timing of the proposals as the Bloomberg administration winds down. Opponents also attacked the Department of Education’s community engagement strategy around the school changes, saying parents and community leaders are only consulted after the fact, and they questioned the formula for calculating available space in schools.

"There's no space," said Laurine Berry, a member of the Community Education Council for District 8 in the Bronx. "They come and they look and they say, 'oh, we have space.' We got children sitting in closets learning. We got children sitting in hallways learning."

Christina Lorenzo attended the meeting to protest a proposed co-location of a new Success Academy charter school with her son's school, I.S. 96 Seth Low in Brooklyn. 

"It just creates too much separation in a school that's public and it's supposed to be a community and it's supposed to be unified," she said.

The crowd at the Prospect Heights High School campus was, by and large, made up of opponents of the school proposals. They took the microphone on Tuesday night to consistently lambast the Department of Education's judgement and question its logic.

But supporters of the policies do exist and recently rallied around increased school choice and in support of charter schools. In a reversal, supporters of Bloomberg's agenda may be put on the defensive under the next administration. 

Democrat Bill de Blasio has distanced himself from Bloomberg's policies, saying that he would consider a temporary moratorium on all school co-locations in order to examine which ones work and which don't. He has said that his administration would work with charter schools, but would not "favor" them.

Republican Joe Lhota has been a friend to the school choice camp. Lhota has said he would like to double the number of charter schools, and criticized his opponent for proposing to charge rent to some charter networks on a sliding scale.

The debate over co-locations and charter schools picks up again in just over two weeks. The Panel for Educational Policy will vote on another round of two dozen co-location proposals, including opening 18 new schools, on Oct. 30.


Comments [3]

annette marcus from New York

charter Schools are often the beneficiaries of the wealthy donors ( Hedge fund managers, e.g.) who started them. The improvements to their physical space such as better lighting, renovated bathrooms. brightly painted hallways and classrooms, computers, faculty rooms and access to functioning equipment such as copying machines, printers, abundant supplies of paper, books, pencils are in sharp contrast to their "host" schools which have none of the above. Instead of paying rent, why not demand that co locating schools share in this bounty.At the very least the children attending both schools in one building would not see such an obvious contrast between "us" and "them."

Oct. 30 2013 09:45 AM
public school parent

they have done several random assignment studies of charter schools in nyc - they compare students who signed up for lottery and got in/attended charter schools and those who signed up for lottery, but attended regular public. this controls for parent motivation. these studies have found that NYC students who attend charter schools learn more than students at regular public schools. you are referring to national studies that have found overall no consistent difference in performance btw regular and charters. anecdotally, i have kids in regular and charter public schools. the charter school offers far better instruction and curriculum. too bad regular schools don't study what charters are doing, instead of focusing their energy on getting rid of them.

Oct. 18 2013 12:48 PM
sp from nyc

Anyone really interested in whether charter schools perform better, worse, or the same as neighborhood schools should demand randomized assignment to one or the other, not "lotteries" that preselect those already motivated and hence more likely to achieve. Numerous instances of charters cherry-picking students so that they do not have to deal with disabilities (physical, emotional, mental), then pushing out those who still can't meet their standards, bias any legitimate comparisons. Even so, charters have been found to perform no better than public shcools on average, and many are far worse. They should not be permitted to divert resources from the true public schools.

Oct. 16 2013 03:33 PM

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