the new space wars

City will grant 12 of 24 charter school co-location requests, including 10 from Success

The city plans to offer space in public school buildings to 10 Success Academy charter schools and two Icahn charter schools, but not to 12 other schools that requested it, officials said late Tuesday.

The 24 new or expanding charter schools had requested the space under the state’s new charter-school law, and some had already been notified of the decisions. But the announcement offers the first glimpse at the city’s overarching strategy when it comes to the space decisions, with officials approving exactly half of the requests, and shows that Success Academy has become a clear favorite in the city’s co-location decision-making process.

The decisions also reflect a change in the de Blasio administration’s attitude toward charter schools since taking office, when Mayor Bill de Blasio criticized Success Academy and courted some “mom and pop” charter schools that were not part of larger charter-school networks. This round of decisions favored two networks, Success and Icahn, while rejecting a number of independent charter schools like Growing Up Green and New Dawn, a member of the Coalition of Community Charter Schools that met with city officials earlier this year.

Two of the four schools that the city said it would offer space to in September also belonged to Success Academy, whose CEO Eva Moskowitz led the charge to give charter schools access to free facilities after the mayor nixed three of her schools’ co-location plans in February.

Still, the patterns were not clear-cut. Achievement First, another big network, had three applications rejected, as did least at one favorite of Chancellor Carmen Fariña, VOICE Charter School, which is independent.

A spokeswoman for the department wrote in an email that the decisions were based on the same criteria the city has used since February when it began making co-location decisions: not disrupting programs that serve students with disabilities, avoiding co-locations of elementary school students with high schoolers, not offering space to “very small schools,” and avoiding co-locations that would require significant construction work.

“These decisions reflect our focus on ensuring there is necessary space for school children to thrive while continuing to provide an equitable education for all students no matter of the zip code they live in,” Fariña said in a statement.

The city has not yet said exactly where the eight new Success Academy charter schools approved for public space will be located. (Two of the Success Academy approvals are one-grade expansions of elementary schools, though the city says it is looking into finding space for those schools’ middle-school grades as well.) Those final decisions will require public hearings that could grow contentious.

“We are pleased that the administration is committed to working with public charter schools and look forward to serving the families of these communities,” Moskowitz said in a statement.

The 12 rejections will trigger an appeals process that is likely to result in the city paying for the schools to operate in private facilities, which could run into the millions of dollars. The state approved one new city charter school’s request for funding last week.

The city’s announcement did not include decisions about all of the schools that have requested space. Six more Success Academy schools are “deferring” their space requests, and other schools that requested space more recently have not yet received a response.

Here is the list of approvals from the city, along with the district where they applied for space:

  • Icahn Charter School 6 (expansion to grades 5-8), District 9
  • Icahn Charter School 7 (expansion to grades 5-8), District 8
  • Success Academy Williamsburg (expansion to grade 5), District 14 [Note: The city says it expects to offer space for grades 6-8, but that may be in another district.]
  • Success Academy Cobble Hill (expansion to grade 5), District 15 [Note: The city says it expects to offer space for grades 6-8, but that may be in another district.]
  • Success Academy Charter School – NYC 3, District 9
  • Success Academy Charter School – NYC 4, District 27
  • Success Academy Charter School – NYC 6, District 14
  • Success Academy Charter School – NYC 8, District 17
  • Success Academy Charter School – NYC 10, District 18
  • Success Academy Charter School – NYC 11, District 23
  • Success Academy Charter School – NYC 13, District 28

And the rejections:

  • Neighborhood Charter School of Harlem (request for 3rd grade in 2014 only), District 5
  • South Bronx Early College High School, District 7
  • Brooklyn Prospect Charter School, District 15
  • VOICE Charter School, District 30
  • New Ventures Charter School, District 31
  • Lavelle Prep Charter School, District 31
  • Bedford Stuyvesant New Beginnings Charter School, District 16
  • New Dawn Charter High School, District 15
  • Growing Up Green, District 30
  • Achievement First Charter School 10, Districts 16, 17, 19 or 23
  • Achievement First Charter School 11, Districts 16, 17, 19 or 23
  • Achievement First Charter School 12, Districts 16, 17, 19 or 23

call out

Our readers had a lot to say in 2017. Make your voice heard in 2018.

PHOTO: Chris Hill/Whitney Achievement School
Teacher Carl Schneider walks children home in 2015 as part of the after-school walking program at Whitney Achievement Elementary School in Memphis. This photograph went viral and inspired a First Person reflection from Schneider in 2017.

Last year, some of our most popular pieces came from readers who told their stories in a series that we call First Person.

For instance, Carl Schneider wrote about the 2015 viral photograph that showed him walking his students home from school in a low-income neighborhood of Memphis. His perspective on what got lost in the shuffle continues to draw thousands of readers.

First Person is also a platform to influence policy. Recent high school graduate Anisah Karim described the pressure she felt to apply to 100 colleges in the quest for millions of dollars in scholarships. Because of her piece, the school board in Memphis is reviewing the so-called “million-dollar scholar” culture at some high schools.

Do you have a story to tell or a point to make? In 2018, we want to give an even greater voice to students, parents, teachers, administrators, advocates and others who are trying to improve public education in Tennessee. We’re looking for essays of 500 to 750 words grounded in personal experience.

Whether your piece is finished or you just have an idea to discuss, drop a line to Community Editor Caroline Bauman at cbauman@chalkbeat.org.

But first, check out these top First Person pieces from Tennesseans in 2017:

My high school told me to apply to 100 colleges — and I almost lost myself in the process

“A counselor never tried to determine what the absolute best school for me would be. I wasted a lot of time, money and resources trying to figure that out. And I almost lost myself in the process.” —Anisah Karim     

Why I’m not anxious about where my kids go to school — but do worry about the segregation that surrounds us

“In fact, it will be a good thing for my boys to learn alongside children who are different from them in many ways — that is one advantage they will have that I did not, attending parochial schools in a lily-white suburb.” —Mary Jo Cramb

I covered Tennessee’s ed beat for Chalkbeat. Here’s what I learned.

“Apathy is often cited as a major problem facing education. That’s not the case in Tennessee.” —Grace Tatter

I went viral for walking my students home from school in Memphis. Here’s what got lost in the shuffle.

“When #blacklivesmatter is a controversial statement; when our black male students have a one in three chance of facing jail time; when kids in Memphis raised in the bottom fifth of the socioeconomic bracket have a 2.6 percent chance of climbing to the top fifth — our walking students home does not fix that, either.” —Carl Schneider

I think traditional public schools are the backbone of democracy. My child attends a charter school. Let’s talk.

“It was a complicated choice to make. The dialogue around school choice in Nashville, though, doesn’t often include much nuance — or many voices of parents like me.” —Aidan Hoyal

I grew up near Charlottesville and got a misleading education about Civil War history. Students deserve better.

“In my classroom discussions, the impetus for the Civil War was resigned to a debate over the balance of power between federal and state governments. Slavery was taught as a footnote to the cause of the war.” —Laura Faith Kebede

Weekend Reads

Need classroom decor inspiration? These educators have got you covered.

This school year, students will spend about 1,000 hours in school —making their classrooms a huge part of their learning experience.

We’re recognizing educators who’ve poured on the pizazz to make students feel welcome. From a 9th-grade “forensics lab” decked out in caution tape to a classroom stage complete with lights to get first graders pumped about public speaking, these crafty teachers have gone above and beyond to create great spaces.

Got a classroom of your own to show off? Know someone that should be on this list? Let us know!

Jaclyn Flores, First Grade Dual Language, Rochester, New York
“Having a classroom that is bright, cheerful, organized and inviting allows my students to feel pride in their classroom as well as feel welcome. My students look forward to standing on the stage to share or sitting on special chairs to dive into their learning. This space is a safe place for my students and we take pride in what it has become.”

Jasmine, Pre-K, Las Vegas, Nevada
“My classroom environment helps my students because providing calming colors and a home-like space makes them feel more comfortable in the classroom and ready to learn as first-time students!”

 

Oneika Osborne, 10th Grade Reading, Miami Southridge Senior High School, Miami, Florida
“My classroom environment invites all of my students to constantly be in a state of celebration and self-empowerment at all points of the learning process. With inspirational quotes, culturally relevant images, and an explosion of color, my classroom sets the tone for the day every single day as soon as we walk in. It is one of optimism, power, and of course glitter.”

Kristen Poindexter, Kindergarten, Spring Mill Elementary School, Indianapolis, Indiana
“I try very hard to make my classroom a place where memorable experiences happen. I use songs, finger plays, movement, and interactive activities to help cement concepts in their minds. It makes my teacher heart so happy when past students walk by my classroom and start their sentence with, “Remember when we…?”. We recently transformed our classroom into a Mad Science Lab where we investigated more about our 5 Senses.”

 

Brittany, 9th Grade Biology, Dallas, Texas
“I love my classroom environment because I teach Biology, it’s easy to relate every topic back to Forensics and real-life investigations! Mystery always gets the students going!”

 

Ms. Heaton, First Grade, Westampton, New Jersey
“As an educator, it is my goal to create a classroom environment that is positive and welcoming for students. I wanted to create a learning environment where students feel comfortable and in return stimulates student learning. A classroom is a second home for students so I wanted to ensure that the space was bright, friendly, and organized for the students to be able to use each and every day.”

D’Essence Grant, 8th Grade ELA, KIPP Houston, Houston, Texas
“Intentionally decorating my classroom was my first act of showing my students I care about them. I pride myself on building relationships with my students and them knowing I care about them inside and outside of the classroom. Taking the time to make the classroom meaningful and creative as well building a safe place for our community helps establish an effective classroom setting.”

 

Jayme Wiertzema, Elementary Art, Worthington, Minnesota
“I’m looking forward to having a CLASSROOM this year. The past two years I have taught from a cart and this year my amazing school district allowed me to have a classroom in our school that is busting at the seams! I’m so excited to use my classroom environment to inspire creativity in my students, get to know them and learn from their amazing imaginations in art class!”

 

Melissa Vecchio, 4th Grade, Queens, New York
“Since so much of a student’s time is spent inside their classroom, the environment should be neat, organized, easy to move around in but most of all positive. I love to use a theme to reinforce great behavior. I always give the students a choice in helping to design bulletin boards and desk arrangements. When they are involved they take pride in the classroom, and enjoy being there.”