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NYC CHARTER SCHOOL CENTER CELEBRATES 20th ANNIVERSARY OF NEW YORK’S CHARTER LAW

For Immediate Release: December 18, 2018 
Contact: Abdul Sada – asada@skdknick.com

NYC CHARTER SCHOOL CENTER CELEBRATES 20th ANNIVERSARY OF NEW YORK’S CHARTER LAW

Landmark Legislation Creating Charter Schools Has Transformed New York City Public Schools 

New “Shaping Futures” Campaign Will Commemorate the Last Two Decades of Public Charter Schools

(NEW YORK) – The New York City Charter School Center today commemorated landmark legislation – passed on December 18, 1998 – that authorized the creation of charter schools in New York State. Over the last 20 years, public charter schools have been an integral part of improving the city’s education system, giving families unprecedented educational options and eliminating a decades-old achievement gap for low income children of color. At the time, the New York Times called the law, one of the most far-reaching changes in New York public education in decades.”

Today, the city’s 236 public charter schools serve more than 10 percent of public school students, or 123,000 children. More than 90 percent of these students are African-American or Latino, and more than 80 percent are from low-income families. 

“The Charter Schools Act has done more to transform New York City’s public school system than any other education reform in recent memory,” said New York City Charter School Center CEO James Merriman. “Since the first charter school opened, families have responded with enthusiasm, hope and high expectations for what they want their children to achieve. The city’s charter sector has continuously risen to the challenge and grown to become a national model for the potential of public education to create pathways to lifelong success.”

“What a remarkable day and what a remarkable moment for the charter sector, the children and families it serves, and those who have worked tirelessly over the last 20 years to get where we are today,” said Basil Smikle, former Executive Director of the New York State Democratic Party and current New York City Charter School Center board member. “When this law was passed 20 years ago, it represented an innovative and transformative approach to education. As we look toward the future, we must continue to innovate and embrace the kind of change needed to deliver results for our kids.”

New York’s Charter Schools Act was passed at a time when New York City’s district school system was struggling with low achievement and a string of failed improvement strategies. In 1998, the graduation rate hovered just below 50 percent and only a third of third graders were reading at their grade level. A family’s zip code was still the key indicator of the quality of school their children attended. 

As charter schools of all kinds – networks and independents, alike – began to open and narrow achievement gaps, parent demand for charter schools took off.

  • On the recent 2017-2018 state exams, for the first time, Latino charter students in NYC outperformed white students statewide – effectively closing a critical achievement gap. African-American charter school students in grades 3-8 had double the proficiency rates in math compared to African-American students in traditional district schools. 

  • Among all students in grades 3-8 on last year’s exams, students in charter schools outperformed their district counterparts by 11 and 17 percentage points in ELA and Math, respectively. 

  • Among English language learners in grades 3-8, those in charter schools outperformed their district counterparts by 12 and 16 percentage points in ELA and Math, respectively.

  • Among students with disabilities in grades 3-8, those in charter schools outperformed their district counterparts by 14 and 19 percentage points in ELA and Math respectively.

  • Nearly 80,000 students applied to a NYC charter school for the 2018-2019 school year.

  • The number of unique charter applicants exceeds available seats by more than 50,000 NYC students.

  • Ninety-seven percent of charter schools do not have enough seats to accommodate demand. Approximately 9 out of 10 charter schools report having waitlists that are at least twice the number of available seats.

  • There are approximately four applicants for each charter school seat in Harlem and the South Bronx, with approximately 30,418 applicants for just 7,819 seats in both of those neighborhoods.

“Charters give our kids fair chance at a better education – and a better life. The results have been astounding, and we have to keep moving forward as a city. Charter schools have offered a lifeline to some of the most underserved communities in New York City, and giving children public school options will help us close the achievement gap once and for all,” said Council Member Ritchie Torres.

“As the parent of children who have attended both district and charter schools, I have experienced firsthand the profoundly positive impact charter schools have had in transforming our public education system here in New York City. Charter schools give our kids a fair chance at a better education – and a better life,” said Council Member Robert Cornegy. “The results have been astounding, and we have to keep moving forward as a city. Charter schools have offered a lifeline to some of the most underserved communities in New York City, and giving children and parents public school options will help us close the achievement gap once and for all.”

“For 20 years, new ideas, bold initiatives and, most importantly, greater choice and opportunity have been extended to New York students and families via our public charter schools. I am grateful to work alongside New Yorkers passionate about improving educational outcomes. With the results achieved, it is clear that charter schools have, for these 20 years, helped more than any other effort to improve the delivery of quality education, “said Assemblyman Marcos Crespo. “More work lies ahead to reach our shared vision, but I know that if we move past political rhetoric and more into idea sharing and expanded choice we can accomplish so much more in the years ahead.”

To mark the 20-year anniversary, the New York City Charter Center has launched the first of a series of videos and a new campaign called “Shaping Futures.”

The campaign will highlight how, over two decades, the charter sector has matured and evolved, helping to transform New York City’s public education landscape. For more information visit, www.shapingfuturesNYC.org.

The anniversary comes just as New York City is about to reach the state-mandated limit on the number of charters allowed to open. There are just 7 charters left and charter advocates are seeking elimination of the cap in order to accommodate additional demand from families in the coming years.

 

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Press Release