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More Than 50,000 Students on Citywide Waitlists: Enough to Fill Yankee Stadium – And Then Some

May 14, 2013 (New York) —

Charter school leaders and families gathered on the City Hall steps today to announce a record number of New York City families applied to public charter schools this year, leaving tens of thousands of children on wait lists for a high quality public school. This year, more than 69,000 families applied for one of only 18,600 spots in city charter schools, up from 14,600 last year. That leaves more than 50,000 New York City students on waitlists, more than enough to fill Yankees Stadium, the Great Lawn oval at Central Park or 202 NYC subway cars at rush hour.

“The bottom line is that we have more parents wanting good schools, including charters, than we have seats for them. We cannot keep up with the demand,” said James Merriman, CEO of the New York City Charter School Center. “In a year when we’re hearing a lot of debate about the future of our public schools, one policy should be at the very top of the list—ensuring every family who wants a high quality public school has one.”

Next year there will be 183 charter schools open, up from 159 this year. But despite having more seats available, the wait list has barely budged. Applications increased in all five boroughs, with the Bronx showing the strongest demand at approximately six applicants per seat. In Brooklyn, each seat had just over three applicants, while in Manhattan there were nearly three applicants per seat. This is the fourth year in a row that the number of applications continued to climb.

“Our demand is always high, but this year it’s higher than ever before - we received about 1,500 applications for 50 seats,” said Shubert Jacobs, Principal at Bronx Charter School for Better Learning. “Parents have a deep sense that we are doing something right and continue to demand in growing numbers each year that Bronx Charter School for Better Learning is an option for their children.”

“My school serves a high population of English Language Learners – a population that is chronically underserved,” said Christina Reyes, School Leader at Inwood Academy Leadership Charter School. “We want to seat as many students as possible, but only have 140 seats for 730 applicants. This year, Inwood Academy's application numbers went up by 76% percent, to 730. Demand is strong. We have earned the trust of the parents in our community and they want Inwood as a choice.” “We are a new school, but clearly we are doing something right, because, this year – after only one year serving the community – we had 537 applications for 79 seats,” said Rafiq Id-din Founder and Managing Partner of Teaching Firms of America Professional Preparatory Charter School in Brooklyn. “Our wait list is 458 families long. We want a seat for each of these children and we know that we are not truly answering our community’s call until we do.”

More than 100 parents attended Tuesday’s event where they called on city officials to get behind their children by providing students with more great public school options, including charter schools.

“Bronx Better learning is the only charter school in our area – and their academic record is so strong,” said Nadine Graham, a parent at Bronx Better Learning. “We felt so fortunate that our child made the list. If he hadn’t made the lottery, we would not have had a choice in what school he went to, and we are thrilled with the results so far.”

“I like Inwood Academy because the school stresses leadership, and prepares students for success in college, careers and teaches tools that will serve my children their entire lives. We feel that they will be truly prepared,” said Marilyn Hernandez, an Inwood Academy mother. “In fact, this is an especially joyous time for my family, since we have just received word that my sixth grader will be joined by my nine year old at the school next year.”


About the New York City Charter School Center
The New York City Charter School Center is an independent non-profit committed to fostering an environment in which public charters can open and flourish, and, through their innovative approaches, provide models for improving all public schools. The Charter Center helps new charter schools get started, supports existing schools, and engages the charter school community around key issues.

About NYC’s Charter Schools
Charter schools are free, independently run public schools that are able to innovate in their classroom structures, curriculum, and teaching methods. In return, they’re held to higher standards of accountability. More than 90 percent of the City’s charter school students are African-American or Latino, and more than 75 percent are from low-income families. For the 2013-2014 school year, there will be 183 public charter schools serving students in all five boroughs.

Press Release