Posts tagged "charter authorization"
February 25, 2013
When members of SUNY’s Board of Trustees consider whether the nation’s first union-run charter school deserves to stay open, they won’t have much guidance.
That’s because in what could be an unprecedented move, reviewers from the SUNY Charter Schools Institute have declined to recommend a fate for the struggling UFT Charter School in East NewYork.
The reviewers did not recommend that the school stay open, or that it be closed — despite saying that academic performance was not up to par, discipline bordered on corporal punishment, high-need students were underserved, and basic mechanisms to keep students safe were not in place.
Without the advice, the decision will be left up to a three-member SUNY Charter Schools Committee, which will meet Tuesday morning to consider renewals for 10 charter schools. The UFT Charter School was the lone school not given an endorsement for renewal. (more…)
October 5, 2012
State education officials want to raise the bar for charter schools and they’re looking to outsource some of the work to create and carry out the new standards.
In particular, the State Education Department, one of two charter school authorizers in New York, is hoping that consultants will help create a process for reviewing schools up for renewal. Insiders say that the lack of a formal review process is one reason the office has never closed a charter school due purely to low performance in its 12-year history, even when some schools have struggled mightily.
The cost of the contract is small, but its scope covers an unusually broad range of responsibilities compared nationally to other authorizers that have used consultants. It comes amid a change in leadership in the office that oversees the department’s charter school portfolio, which has expanded rapidly in recent years.
The Board of Regents is one of two bodies that legally authorizes and renews charter schools in New York State. The board has closed six schools in its 12-year history, mostly due to financial and organizational mismanagement. The lone school it is trying to close for low academic performance, Pinnacle Charter School in Buffalo, is in a legal battle to stay open.
The other New York authorizer, the SUNY Charter School Institute, is nationally acclaimed and is seen as possessing greater autonomy and exercising stronger oversight carrying out its authorizing responsibilities, which include reviewing applications, visiting schools, and deciding whether charters should be renewed. SUNY CSI has not renewed nine charter schools and restructured one other school since it began authorizing in 1999.
Starting in 2010, the Board of Regents has been working to mimic more of SUNY CSI’s practices. The board hired a former charter school director, John King, to run the state’s schools, and King in turn hired two experienced authorizers from the National Association of Charter School Authorizers and the Massachusetts Department of Education to ramp up New York’s charter schools office.
Since then, the office has authorized more than 20 charter schools, nearly doubling its portfolio.
Now, after two years of tightening its internal operations, the office is moving to expand its practices with the help of external consultants. This summer, the department took bids for a four-year consulting contract to review 80 charter applications, help interview 20 applicants, and participate in 34 school visits.
May 19, 2011
A South Bronx charter school is screening children for admission based on their performance on academic tests, according to parents and several current and former employees of Academic Leadership Charter School.
As a charter school, Academic Leadership is required by New York state law to admit students through a random lottery. But multiple parents and staff members described a process designed by the school’s director to weed out low-performing students.
Four parents who tried to enroll their children at Academic Leadership, an elementary school, this year or last year said that school employees tested their children before deciding whether or not to accept them.
“They took my son to a class to watch him in the class and see if everything was okay. He was in the class an hour,” said Khalilur Munshi, describing his experience with the school this winter.
Dissatisfied with his neighborhood school, Munshi had taken his son, a second-grader, to Academic Leadership to try to enroll him in the middle of the school year. An employee told him that the second grade had open slots and no waiting list, and then his son was taken to sit in on the class, Munshi said.
When his son returned, a staff member told Munshi that there actually was a waiting list and that school officials would let him know if a spot opened up.
“I could tell they weren’t going to take my son,” he said. After the visit, he called the school three times to check on the status of the waiting list and never heard back.
Several former and current school employees said that the school’s director and founder, Norma Figueroa-Hurwitz, a long-time New York City educator, orders teachers to test applicants in order to admit the most advanced students. The employees all asked to remain anonymous out of concern that speaking on the record would jeopardize their careers in education.
Reached by phone, Figueroa-Hurwitz denied that students were tested before they were admitted and declined to answer further questions. The same day, her husband and the school’s co-founder, Ted Hurwitz, called GothamSchools to respond on Figueroa-Hurwitz’s behalf. He said that the school tests students only after they have been admitted through the lottery for the purpose of “placement.”
Asked why parents would say otherwise, he said, “I don’t know why. I don’t understand that. We do anything and everything we can. We might do that to get a head start, but I can’t understand that personally.” Hurwitz said that he now spends one day a week at the school. (more…)
August 12, 2010
The city has told nearly 20 prospective charter school leaders who originally asked the city for charters that they need to start the process over with the state.
The move begins to fill in the hazy picture of how the city’s role in granting and overseeing charters is changing as a result of charter school legislation passed in May. It suggests that the city might be losing some of its autonomy in authorizing charters, but still plans to stay involved in the chartering process.
The new law doubled the number of charters allowed in the state. It also created some confusion over just who gets to authorize new charters. Under the old law, the city was one of three authorizers. But the new legislation names only the Board of Regents and the State University of New York as authorizers. Yet it also mentions the chancellor as a “charter entity,” without making clear what that means.
Caught in the middle of the confusion were 19 charter school applicants who submitted their applications to the city in early May, just weeks before Albany overhauled the law and after the city had already hit its charter cap. (more…)
May 12, 2009
A bill introduced in Albany last week could limit The State University of New York’s (SUNY) power to certify charter schools, empowering the Board of Regents to veto the university’s recommendations for which schools should be allowed to open. New Board of Regents head Merryl Tisch is leading the charge for the change, and United Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten told GothamSchools today she supports the bill.
“SUNY as an entity is not sensitive to issues in the communities here,” Tisch told the Daily News. (A call to Tisch’s office has not yet been returned).
Currently, the state’s Board of Regents, which is one of three boards that can authorize city charter schools, reviews SUNY’s authorizations but cannot prevent the SUNY-approved schools from opening. The Board has disagreed with SUNY’s charters two thirds of the time since 2007. While the Regents can’t block those schools from opening, they do have the power to revoke the charters of SUNY schools that drop below their standards.
The bill was introduced by Assembly Education Chair Catherine Nolan last week and is described as a way to standardize and streamline the chartering process. Critics of the bill argue that SUNY’s charter schools outperform other charters and that consolidating the power to authorize charters would mean fewer charter schools in the city. It’s unclear how much of a chance the bill has to pass, though charter advocates say they plan to work vigilantly to prevent it from becoming law.
United Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten defended Nolan’s and the Regents’ stance, even though SUNY is the UFT’s charter authorizer.
“If you really want to have top to bottom and bottom to top accountability you should have one statewide entity authorizing charters, not two,” she said. “We are always looking for ways to save money and be more efficient and having one statewide authorizer is probably best.” (more…)