Posts tagged "james merriman"
September 20, 2013
When the city announced last week that a kindergarten admissions website would link to the charter school application, it took a small first step toward unifying charter and district school applications. But there appears to be little local enthusiasm for a fully unified enrollment process—something that many of the nation’s other large school districts are working toward with urgency.
In Denver, parents can apply to every charter and district school through one form and a single process. In New Orleans, the same is possible, with the exception of some of the city’s highest-performing charter schools. Newark is well on its way, as is Chicago, and similar discussions are taking place in Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.
But while there hasn’t been any significant movement on that front yet in New York, city officials have indicated it’s a long term goal. “Eventually, we plan to streamline the application process to allow parents to apply to many types of public school programs in one place – be they district, charter, gifted and talented, or otherwise,” department spokesman Devon Puglia said.
Pushing for an integrated enrollment system could help cement charter schools’ place in the city’s school system at a time of political uncertainty for the charter sector. But city charter school advocates have indicated that they are focused on other issues. (more…)
September 5, 2013
After becoming one of the state’s first schools to reserve seats for English language learners in its lotteries,
The concession comes despite an all-out effort to reverse the decision by Success CEO Eva Moskowitz, who made her case in dramatic terms directly to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.
“[T]he millions of dollars in funding that your Department is threatening to withdraw is a gun pointed at our head,” Moskowitz wrote in a letter to Duncan in April.
The dispute has to do with a disagreement over the interpretation of federal education laws about how a charter school must structure its admissions process. A federal reading of the law is that school lotteries can’t reserve seats for at-risk students, unless their state’s charter school law specifically allows it. (more…)
July 18, 2013
Charter school advocates are criticizing the UFT after the union filed a lawsuit that aims to curb the Bloomberg administration’s ability to offer space to charter schools.
The 15-page suit, filed today in State Supreme Court, asks for the city to be barred from proposing changes to how school buildings are used that would take effect after the first day of the following school year. The suit comes as the Department of Education considers plans, including charter school co-locations, that would not be implemented until 2015, nearly two years after Mayor Bloomberg leaves office.
If a judge sides with the union, the department could try to set co-locations for the fall of 2014 this fall, but it could not plan further ahead, and plans that were approved last year for 2014 would be undone. (more…)
July 12, 2013
A leading resource for New York City charter schools is preparing to lend its expertise out to school operators across the country.
The New York City Charter School Center’s expansion of an existing program, “Replicating Quality Schools,” comes as the city’s charter sector faces an uncertain future. With Mayor Bloomberg, a longstanding charter supporter, leaving office at the end of the year, it is likely that the next mayor will not make it as easy for charter schools to open in public space, a cost-saving measure that has allowed the charter sector to flourish over the last decade.
Elsewhere in the country, the outlook for the publicly financed but privately managed schools is more favorable. So the charter center announced this week that it plans to help charter operators set up new schools in other cities, using a 2011 program for city charter schools that aimed to duplicate as a blueprint. (more…)
July 9, 2013
Some Democratic mayoral candidates are calling for a moratorium on charter school co-locations and at least two have said they would require charter schools to pay rent. But charter school advocates say they remain not too concerned.
“We should be worried … [but] I don’t think we should be panicked,” said James Merriman, CEO of the New York City Charter School Center, this morning at a panel discussion about the future of education in New York City hosted by the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, a right-wing think tank.
Merriman joined Marcus Winters, senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and Joe Williams, executive director for Democrats for Education Reform, on the panel.
Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott also made an appearance to warn against moving away from the Bloomberg administration’s school policies, which include helping the charter sector to flourish. Republican mayoral candidate George McDonald and Independent mayoral candidate Adolfo Carrión, who have each expressed support for charter schools, sat in the audience. (more…)
July 8, 2013
Already a lightning rod in the city’s mayoral race, charter school enrollment patterns are getting renewed scrutiny at the state level.
Chancellor Merryl Tisch and her colleagues on the Board of Regents have asked state education officials for months to increase transparency around student attrition data for charter schools. At June’s Board of Regents meeting, Tisch echoed concerns from critics who charge that some charter schools prop up their test scores by encouraging high-need students to enroll elsewhere.
“I would make a list of charter schools that have ushered out 5 [or] 10 percent of their kids in the first six [or] seven weeks,” Tisch said. “Make a list of the ones who are ushering them out right before testing.”
Now, state education officials have announced that they are developing a way to spotlight exactly that issue. A proposed “stability index” would use regularly reported enrollment data to flag suspicious trends, such as high discharge rates at the beginning of the year or right before state testing at the end of the year. (more…)
May 7, 2013
On each side of the split screen, a girl with long hair and a puffy white coat walks to school, where she works on a writing assignment, raises her hand to answer a question, watches the clock, and walks past a bulletin board plastered with student work.
Then the divider disappears and the two girls leave the building hand in hand to stack blocks on a crowded playground. (more…)
April 16, 2013
The number of families applying to city charter schools through an online system designed to ease the admissions process doubled this year, according to the New York City Charter School Center.
This was the second year that the Common Online Charter Application, which the charter center developed, was open to all charter schools for use. The application deadline was April 1.
The number of individual students who submitted the common application rose from 7,130 last year to 15,805 this year. Together, they submitted 58,117 applications, more than three times as many as last year, meaning that the average applicant applied to more schools this year. A total of 145 schools, up from 110 last year, accepted the common application. (Many schools also had their own applications, so the number of common applicants does not reflect all charter school applicants this year.)
In offering a common application, the charter center is responding to criticism that having to fill out multiple schools’ applications discourages all but the most motivated parents and effectively screens out needy students. The common application also enables families to apply easily to multiple schools — a data point the charter sector points to as evidence that the public wants more charter schools. (more…)
February 5, 2013
Charter schools want to piggyback on Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s plan to expand pre-kindergarten across the state. But in order to benefit from Cuomo’s $25 million in pre-K grants, the schools first must win the right to offer pre-K classes.
Pushing for that right is at the top of charter school supporters’ agenda today as they convene in Albany as part of the charter sector’s annual advocacy day. The parents will meet in the Albany Convention Center with more than a dozen legislators, then spend the rest of the day visiting their district representatives.
They’re not the only ones lobbying lawmakers over pre-K this week. On Monday, police chiefs, principals, and education groups from around the state declared their support for Cuomo’s pre-K grants, which represent a fraction of the $385 million that the state spends annually on pre-kindergarten.
The charter sector’s lobbying efforts are not so straightforward, because the state’s 1998 law authorizing the schools grants them the right to serve students in kindergarten to 12th grade only. Legislators would have to change to the law — last revised in 2010 amid heavy controversy — to allow pre-kindergarten in charter schools.
“It’s our job to talk to lawmakers and say to them, ‘Hey, does it really makes sense to a have a program where some really good schools don’t have the ability to do full-day pre-K?’” said James Merriman, CEO of the New York City Charter Center. (more…)
December 12, 2012
At the same time as the State Education Department is publicly pressuring school districts to adopt new teacher evaluations by next month, it’s also quietly demanding that charter schools turn in their teachers’ ratings from last year.
Charter school advocates are urging most school leaders to ignore the demand, even though state officials have said it’s needed in order to fulfill its Race to the Top plan. The advocates say the demand would be hard to fulfill and impinges on charter schools’ autonomy.
The standoff has its roots in the state’s 2010 application for federal Race to the Top funds. In its application to the U.S. Department of Education for funding, New York State said it would require schools to rate teachers according to specific guidelines and would collect ratings for all teachers, even in charter schools.
Some charter schools committed to sharing their teacher ratings at the time in order to receive some of the state’s $700 million in winnings. But two thirds did not — and the state wants their teacher ratings too, according to a series of updated guidance memos that officials have issued over the last 18 months.
City and state charter school advocates have pushed back against the demands throughout that time.
“Both the New York City Charter School Center and the New York Charter Schools Association believe that this reporting requirement does not properly apply to non-Race to the Top charter schools,” Charter Center CEO James Merriman and NYCSA President Bill Phillips wrote in a strongly worded email to school leaders last month. They added, “Ultimately, it is up to you whether you choose to report this data.”
So far, few school leaders have made that choice. By the original submission deadline Nov. 30, just 30 of 184 charter schools in the state had handed over teacher ratings from last year. (more…)