Downtown Brooklyn currently lacks options for high-quality elementary schools, so one solution for parents to consider is the current and new charter schools looking to start up in District 15 and 13. Since a new zoned public elementary school to serve the neighborhood is at least a year and a half away (likely more), charter schools represent a decent public (and free) alternative for parents looking for something other than their zoned school
However, charter schools aren’t without controversy. The biggest issue is that in NYC, most charter schools are co-located in existing public school facilities. While the DoE has the ultimate say in where a new charter school is sited, the situation inevitable creates friction with existing schools. There is presently a movement afoot to pass legislation to stop the co-location of new charter schools until after the 2013 mayoral elections. This could put the brakes on new charter schools until the post-election political landscape becomes clear. Several of the current mayoral candidates would like to see the end of new charter schools altogether.
To set the record straight:
- Charter schools are independently-operated yet publicly funded public schools, funded by the DoE along with other private sources. They are free and open to anyone in the public school district (however they are subject to a lottery and certain preferences.)
- Most charter schools in NYC are non-union (which frees them from certain constraints), however the United Federation of Teachers union has started their own charter schools.
- Charter schools can lose their “charter” after 5 years if they don’t perform.
- Currently, charter schools can’t have pre-K programs. There is a push to change that.
Here are charter elementary schools currently serving Downtown Brooklyn and new schools looking to open up in the next couple of years:
- Success Academy Cobble Hill (District 15) – Opened this year. Success Academy has opened up several schools in NYC in the last couple years. Known for their highly-structured, rigorous approach to education and their positive results.
- Hellenic Classical Charter School (District 15) – this South Slope school offers a classical educational approach, uses the Socratic method and offers Greek and Latin.
- Community Roots (District 13) – A successful, popular, and well-respected progressive charter school located in Fort Greene drawing a diverse student body from across the district. Recently expanded into middle school.
- Success Academy Fort Greene (opening 2013-14) – New location, taking applications now.
- Odyssey Initiative – A group of ex-Community Roots teachers looking to open a new progressive school in District 13 in 2014-2015. They are modeling their school on some of the best-practices of successful progressive schools around the world.
- International Charter School, inspired by the U.N. School model, looking to opening up in Downtown Brooklyn in 2014-2015.
Find out more about charter schools:
- What is a Charter School? http://www.nyccharterschools.org/about
- 2012-13 Directory of NYC Charter Schools: http://schools.nyc.gov/community/planning/charters/Directory.htm
Here are some opinions on the subject:
- Charter schools are cherry picking the best students and leaving the rest behind
- In Defense of Co-location – From Success Academy
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