Gotham Gazette

The Place for New York Policy and politics

Charter Schools

Charter Schools

  • Reimagine Alumni Support So It Works for All Students

    Students at school (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)


    I was a kid from Harlem, a first generation immigrant, and the first in my family to graduate from college – the U.S. education system was not built for kids like me to succeed.

    Thankfully, along the way, I got the support I needed to excel and live out the dreams that my parents had for me as well as the aspirations I had for myself. Sadly, that is not the reality for countless kids from underserved communities just like me. But it

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  • ‘Go Visit Charter Schools’: NYC Charter School Center CEO James Merriman on Growth, Challenges, and Raising the Cap

    A past rally for charter schools with James Merriman, right (photo: @nyccharters)


    “We have a lot more friends in private than we do in public,” James Merriman, the CEO of the New York City Charter School Center, told host Ben Max in a recent conversation on Gotham Gazette’s Max Politics podcast. Half-joking about the political environment related to charter schools in New York, Merriman outlined the current duality for the controversial sector of privately-run public schools:

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  • Max Politics Podcast: The Growth of Charter Schools in New York City

    NYC Charter School Center CEO James Merriman, left (photo: @nyccharters)


    February 22, 2022 - Max Politics Podcast: The Growth of Charter Schools in New York City

    Democratic Mayoral Candidates Stake Out Education Policy Positions

    mayor cha sch

    Pandemic education (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)


    Leading Democratic candidates for mayor have appeared at several recent forums to outline their priorities on education and the possibility of running the country’s largest school system, as well as their strategies for achieving those aims. Discussion at the various forums, hosted by a number of diverse groups, was often focused on how the mayoral hopefuls would shape equitable and inclusive educational policy for New York City students, especially amid the fallout of the coronavirus

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  • What the Future of Education Looks Like

    robitics mathematics

    (photo: Benjamin Kanter/Mayoral Photo Office)


    Late last year, Mayor Bill de Blasio and City Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza proudly announced “record increases” in internet bandwidth in public school buildings – an important milestone because in a digital world, every school deserves good internet access.

    But, the announcement invited more questions than it answered, especially in light of the Department of Education’s other recent announcement of planning to create or redesign 40 schools “of the future.” 

    What is a “school of

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  • Why the Charter School Proposals by Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren Shouldn’t Be Controversial

    children school

    (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayor's Office)


    Recently, a group of charter school supporters received media attention by protesting at an Elizabeth Warren

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  • Top Charter School Advocate on the Controversial Sector’s Strengths and Weaknesses

    gov attends charter

    (photo: the governor's office)


    James Merriman has been involved in the charter school movement in New York since its inception 20 years ago, first as the general counsel for the Charter Schools Institute and now, for the last 12 years, as CEO of the New York City Charter School Center, a leading charter school advocacy and resource group.

    “My parents were both professors. I thought I was going to be a professor. It’s all anybody did in my house,” Merriman said in ...

  • What's The [DATA] Point? 118,997, the Growing Charter School Sector in New York City

    whats the data point


    What's The [Data] Point? Episode 78 -- 118,977, the Growing Charter School Sector in New York City, with James Merriman of the New York City Charter School Center[You can download What's The [Data] Point? wherever you get your podcasts, including on iTunes]

    jam merr podJames Merriman, the CEO of the New York City Charter School Center, joined the podcast to discuss the state of

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  • Approved by City, ‘Culturally Responsive’ Charter School Alleges State Bias Against Plan to Expand

    ember charter2

    (image: @EmberCS_BedStuy)


    [Update (6/3/19): shortly before the Board of Regents meeting on Monday, June 3, Ember Charter School's application to expand was added to the agenda]

    [Update (6/5/19): the Board of Regents sent application back the city DOE with comments, no final decision has been made]

    The founder of a black-led charter school in Brooklyn with a focus on African and African-American cultural education is alleging the New York State Education Department (SED) is surreptitiously blocking the school’s

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  • As Public School Parent Leaders, We Say Don’t Raise the Charter Cap

    students with signs

    (photo: Governor's Office)


    There has been much discussion that the state Legislature and Governor Cuomo may raise the cap on charter schools, especially since the sub-cap of 235 charter schools in New York City has now been reached. As public school parents and co-chairs of the Education Council Consortium, which represents the elected parent leaders of Community Education Councils across the five boroughs, we overwhelmingly oppose raising the cap

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  • Where Top City and State Officials Stand on Raising the Charter School Cap

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    Gov. Cuomo at a charter school rally (photo: governor's office)


    After several new charter schools were approved last month, the cap on such schools allowed in New York City was reached. New York State has a cap on the number of issuable charters, which allow a group to start a new charter school, the controversial, privately-run, publicly-funded schools that mostly proliferate in the five boroughs and educate roughly 10% of the city's 1 million students. Within the larger cap, there is a sub-cap for charters that can be issued for schools in New York

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  • As Cap on Charter Schools in New York City is About to Hit, Little Talk of Extension in Albany

    albany charter gov

    (photo: the governor's office)


    Throughout his tenure, Governor Andrew Cuomo has been a strong advocate for charter schools as part of his broader education policy, even as many of his fellow Democrats are far less friendly toward, if not opposed to, the privately-run, publicly-funded schools. Cuomo has repeatedly supported and helped orchestrate a raising of the cap on the number of charter schools allowed in New York, both across the state, and the sub-cap for New York City, where the vast majority of charters exist.

    Now, as that sub-cap on charter

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  • Bridging the Achievement Gap Through Real Renewal

    nycmayorsoffice 1st dayschool

    (Photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)


    When the New York State Board of Regents met last month, the mood was despondent. “The needle hasn’t moved for minority children in decades,” said Regent Kathy Cashin, decrying the racial achievement gap on the newly-released 2018 state exam scores for students in grades 3-8. The reaction of the Regents ran the usual gamut of hand-wringing, blaming the tests, and calling for more dilatory “analysis.”

    And then came ...

  • The Failure of 'Renewal Schools'

    de Blasio school visit

    Mayor de Blasio on a school visit (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayor's Office)


    My daughter is a third-grader in one of Mayor de Blasio’s so-called Renewal Schools in Harlem. When I first heard about the program, I was hopeful: P.S. 149 needed attention and change to become the kind of school I wanted for my daughter. But, as a parent, I have not seen much renewal.

    Since the program started, enrollment at P.S. 149 has dropped 25 percent. For the kids who have stayed, scores haven’t improved much – students passing the English Language Arts

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  • Support, Not Trouble, for a School Successfully Teaching Students with Disabilities

    lenny cci opening

    Opportunity Charter School leader Leonard Goldberg, middle, the author


    A new report from the city's Comptroller showed once again that the City is unable to fulfill its responsibility to provide the necessary services to students with disabilities, failing to track $84 million allocated for disabled student services. Worse still, these findings come on the heels of the Public Advocate's report that revealed a troubling trend whereby the city offers parents vouchers instead of the necessary, required services for children with special needs. Troubling, but not surprising.

    It’s

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  • Children Lose in Faulty Charter School Accounting

    success academy rally crop

    A charter school rally (photo: @SuccessAcademy)


    Questions: How do you turn a 25 percent graduation rate into a misleading claim of 100 percent success? When does a school’s 30 percent proficiency rate on an 8th grade reading test translate into the assertion that nearly half of the students passed?

    Answer: when charter schools do their own accounting, and authorizers allow them to paper over the fact that huge percentages of the children who start in charter schools get driven or eased out.

    Charters claim that they serve the same children

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  • Eva Moskowitz’s Privileged ‘Bipartisanship’

    Gotham Gazette: Eva Moskowitz

    (via @MoskowitzEva)


    There's a reason why New Yorkers reject Eva Moskowitz's "bipartisan" defense for her photo ops and meetings with the governing Republican Party in Washington, D.C.. While Ms. Moskowitz touts her registration as a Democrat, her actions are

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  • ‘Zombie’ Charter School Agreement Rests on Interpretation of Ambiguous Law

    de blasio law interpretation

    (photo: Demetrius Freeman/Mayor's Office)


    A much talked-about provision of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s 13th-hour deal to have his control over city schools extended was the agreement that 22 revoked or surrendered charter school charters could be reissued without counting towards the predetermined state cap on the number of charter schools.

    In exchange for a two-year extension of mayoral control of city

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  • De Blasio Made a Charter School Deal, But Isn’t Interested in Talking About It

    de blasio mayoral control event

    Mayor de Blasio at City Hall, June 29 (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayor's Office)


    Mayor Bill de Blasio negotiated a deal to extend mayoral control of city schools in exchange for a set of administrative actions benefitting charter schools. When the mayor celebrated the extension of mayoral control -- which was due to expire at the end of June, but was extended June 29 -- he did not release the details of the charter-friendly promises he was making to Republican state Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan, Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo, and

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  • Charter Schools Can't Suspend Their Way to Success

    mulgrew classroom

    Michael Mulgrew, the author (photo: UFT)


    Children who miss 20 or more days of school in New York City have lost so much instruction time that they are classified as chronically absent, which studies have linked to lower test scores and higher dropout rates.

    So it is hard to see the educational purpose behind Success Academy's suspending a special-needs 7-year-old for 45 days, even if some form of alternative instruction was provided. This one recent example is part of a much larger pattern, both for Success Academy and the larger charter school sector

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  • Facts About Fair Student Funding in New York City

    james merriman nyccsc

    James Merriman, the author


    The New York City Independent Budget Office, the nonpartisan government watchdog, recently issued a report with some startling findings: Students in public charter schools will receive a lot less public funding and support this year than students in district schools. How much less? The IBO found that the gap started at $1,100 per student if the charter school is co-located in a public school building and shot up to nearly $5,000 if it isn’t.

    And, the IBO found that the future is even grimmer—that gap will grow in

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  • Charters: Flush With Cash, Yet Still Trying to Pull Funds from Neighborhood Public Schools

    uft teacher floor

    (photo: UFT)


    Even as they are pleading poverty to the Legislature in Albany, charter schools across New York State are sitting on nearly half a billion dollars in cash and unrestricted assets.

    An investigation by the state teachers union has shown that New York City charter schools alone have at least $323 million in unrestricted net assets, most of it in cash. When you add in charters in the rest of New York State, the sector as a whole has unrestricted assets of more than $450 million.

    Those are resources that can be used to pay for academic

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  • Success Academy Schools Largely Responsible for Charter Gains on State Tests

    Success Academy Binghamton

    photo: @SuccessCharters


    Release of the most recent student test scores on state English and math exams for third- through eighth-graders set off widespread celebration in public education circles. Supporters and leaders of charter schools and traditional public schools alike have been promoting the results, including Mayor Bill de Blasio, who has cited test score jumps as proof that his education agenda is working.

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  • De Blasio School Discipline Policy Shift Causes A Stir

    de blasio school student discipline

    De Blasio at Brooklyn Generation School (photo: Ed Reed, Mayor's Office)


    In April 2015, the New York City Department of Education modified its discipline code and added an extra step to the process for suspending students from school. Principals are now required to receive authorization from the DOE before suspending students in grades K through 2 for any behavior or any student of any age for incidents involving insubordination, such as cursing at a teacher or refusing to leave a classroom. The change was made in an effort to

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  • Eyeing 100 Schools, Will Success Academy Expand to Staten Island?

    moskowitz rally

    Eva Moskowitz & students at a charter school rally (photo: @MoskowitzEva)


    With 34 schools currently serving around 11,000 students, Eva Moskowitz’s Success Academy is, and will likely continue to be, the largest charter school network in New York City. Success currently operates in four boroughs and Moskowitz has an ambitious target of reaching 100 schools within the next decade, which prompts the question: Why are there no Success Academy schools on Staten Island?

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