The Mayor’s Office announced in May 2015 that the administration will provide an additional $34 million in funding for “struggling schools” with an additional $60 million every year after to hire guidance counselors, launch academic programs, and add Advanced Placement classes. This funding is in addition to the $150 million committed in the Renewal Schools initiative and the Community School Expansion introduced by Mayor de Blasio to increase services for persistently failing public schools. In total, the de Blasio administration has made a significant investment in supporting public schools that have fallen behind for many years. Although Charter Schools are public schools, “struggling” Charter Schools are not eligible for “fair student funding”. This year, five low performing charter schools, including one UFT led charter school, are slated to close.
This is an admitted challenge for community charter schools that advocate for autonomy to employ innovative school instruction but are expected to meet state testing performance standards(required state performance standards included charter schools in 2012). Low performing or underperforming schools are usually given short renewals from their authorizers and are expected to make significant improvement in standardized test scores.
“Struggling” Charter Schools are “struggling” Public Schools
The mantra of the de Blasio administration and the Department of Education should be a commitment to provide access to funding and resources for all children in struggling public schools, including Charter Schools. There are community charter schools that are have high numbers of ELL and IEP students and need additional math and ELA tutoring, academic enrichment programs after school, and counselors for students and families.
This does not discount the need for strong accountability for charter schools to demonstrate student proficiency and achievement. On the other hand, charter schools also need more time from authorizers to show significant test score gains. Like persistently failing public schools, community charter schools need equitable access to resources afforded to all public schools.
Parents applaud the direction of fair and equitable funding to improve all public schools in NYC. For Charter School parents, it is imperative that we advocate for the de Blasio Administration to be inclusive and “fair” to local community charter schools by providing access and support to DOE resources and funding. Any school closing, albeit traditional public school or a charter school, is a failure for students and families.
Oma Holloway, Family and Community Coordinator