The state Board of Regents approved three new charter schools, two of which were previously approved and transmitted by NYC Schools Chancellor, Joel Klein. They are the Metropolitan Lighthouse Academy in the Bronx and the New York French American Charter School. The third, Health Sciences Charter School, will locate just outside of Buffalo in the town of Tonawanda.
The State University Board of Trustees yesterday approved eight new charter schools, including six in New York City and two more in Albany. Among the six are two operated by the Success Charter Network run by Eva Moskowitz, to locate in Harlem; Icahn Charter School 5 in the Bronx; New Hope Academy; Brooklyn Dreams Charter School; and the New World Preparatory Charter School, which is only the second charter school for the City's last frontier, Staten Island.
Rounding out SUNY's approvals are the Brighter Choice Charter Middle School for Girls and the Brighter Choice Charter Middle School for Boys, both in Albany.
Of the eleven new charter schools, at least six are part of a charter network of schools, all of which have shown impressive academic success leading to more approvals. They are the aforementioned Success Charter Network, a fifth Icahn charter, another operated by Lighthouse Academies, another New Hope Academy, and two more supported by the Brighter Choice Foundation.
Interestingly, the Brighter Choice middle schools in Albany provide a continuum of the two elementary single-sex schools that were approved by the Regents and which opened in 2002. Rather than expand grades in those schools, the founders instead created separate schools that will locate nearby under a separate authorizer. The Regents, under pressure from the school district and the state teachers union, NYSUT, have had little appetite for adding charters in Albany in recent years, with one salient exception. In July the Regents unanimously approved the Albany Leadership Charter High School, the state's first female-only charter school serving upper grades, which had been previously approved by SUNY and also is supported by the Brighter Choice Foundation.
Dwindling Number of Charters Remain
With these charter school approvals this week, only 37 charters remain available to issue under the existing statutory cap of 200. Of the 37 remaining charters, SUNY has 19 left, while the Regents and school districts have 18 remaining between them.
That means since April 2007, when the state legislature doubled the charter cap to 200, 63 charter schools have since been added, 18 of which will open next year.
Right now, in the current school year, 140 charter charter schools are operating in New York serving 44,000 students, including the six charters converted from district schools that do not count against the cap. With 18 more opening next year (so far), 158 charters will be operating, assuming none of the current ones are closed. (NOTE: the 11 charters that closed or never opened still count toward the cap.)
It took seven years for the first 100 charter schools to get approved. New York is now on pace to reach its second 100 charters in less than half that time. There are several reasons for this stepped up pace, which The Chalkboard will explore shortly.
Lift the Cap Sooner for Race to the Top $
In the meantime, the cap on charter schools should be lifted again--or removed altogether--sooner rather than later. With potentially hundreds of millions of dollars at stake in the state competition for federal "Race to the Top" funding, New York should act now to improve its competitive position for this money.
This state should not presume it will get funds by doing nothing, and being the "Empire State" with political muscle in Washington, or because someone "spoke privately with Arne" (as in U.S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan). Instead, we should do what other states are doing by making policy changes to earn this federal grant.
for The Chalkboard
Disclaimer: The Chalkboard is hosted by the New York Charter Schools Association (NYCSA) as a place where members, public education advocates and others can view and respond to informed commentary on timely public education and charter school issues. The views expressed here are not necessarily the official views of the NYCSA, its board, or of any of its individual charter school members. Anyone who claims otherwise is violating the spirit and purpose of this blog. To comment on anything you read here, or to offer tips, advice, comments, or complaints. please contact TheChalkboard.