Tag Archives: charter schools

Thousands march across Brooklyn Bridge in support of charter schools

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Thousands of parents, teachers and students marched across the Brooklyn Bridge Tuesday morning in support of the city’s charter schools.

The marchers were also reportedly concerned over some of Democratic candidate Bill de Blasio’s educational proposals, which they feel could negatively impact charter schools if he becomes mayor.

Those ideas include his proposal to charge rent to charter schools that use space in city school buildings and his support for a moratorium on charter school co-locations with traditional public schools.

Proponents of charters schools fear these policies could limit the number of charter schools in the city.

Ending co-location and putting a moratorium on charter schools will “destroy charter schools in this city,” said de Blasio’s Republican opponent in the race, Joe Lhota.

He has proposed doubling the number of charter schools, saying they have been an “enormous success.” Lhota has also said he would like to expand co-location.

“If you oppose charter schools and other choices for minorities, inner city kids, and children of immigrants, you cannot call yourself progressive,” he said at a speech to the Association for a Better New York before joining a rally following the march.

“The majority of the children in charter schools are from that other city Bill de Blasio likes [to] tell tales of, yet their voices today fall on his deaf ears,” he added.



Political Roundup: Officials rally for instant runoff voting

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com



Local officials rally for ‘better, smarter, fairer’ instant runoff voting

New York City lawmakers and advocacy groups rallied on the City Hall steps Wednesday to again push for an instant runoff system. Read more: CBS New York

Obamacare sites look to improve after bumpy 1st day

For millions of Americans trying to log in, the online insurance marketplaces created by the new health care law began with a stalled website, an error message or a menu that didn’t work. Read more: AP

Obama calls 1st meeting with congressional leaders on shutdown

With much of the federal government paralyzed for a second day, President Obama will meet with congressional leaders today in search of a way to end the government shutdown and increase the debt ceiling. Read more: ABC News

State schools chancellor Merryl Tisch: no rent for charters

The state’s high-profile, reform-minded schools chancellor Tuesday slammed Bill de Blasio’s campaign pledge to charge city charter schools rent. Read more: New York Daily News

Justices to weigh key limit on political donors

The Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision reshaped American politics by striking down limits on independent campaign spending by corporations and unions. Read more: New York Times

Hillary Clinton hailed the ‘queen’ of the presidential pack in Quinnipiac poll

A new Quinnipiac poll shows Hillary Clinton as the “queen of the 2016 mountain,” getting nearly six times more support among Democrats than Vice President Joe Biden in a presumed matchup. Read more: New York Daily News 


Ackerman backs Vallone 

Former Congressmember Gary Ackerman endorsed Paul Vallone for City Council District 19 on September 26.

“I know the people and the neighborhoods of northeast Queens like the back of my hand, which is why I know Paul Vallone is the right choice to help preserve our precious quality of life and protect the middle-class families who live here,” Ackerman said.

Ackerman retired this January after having served 15 terms in Congress.

He had endorsed Vallone’s rival, Austin Shafran, back in July for the Democratic primary election.

Vallone beat Shafran by nearly 200 votes after a final vote count, though the hard-fought race came down to the wire.

The Flushing attorney now faces Republican challenger Dennis Saffran in the November general election.

“Now more than ever, the people of the 19th City Council District need a leader who can deliver the resources this district deserves,” Ackerman said. “There is no doubt that Paul Vallone is the right man for the job.”


Middle Village charter school to open this fall

| mhayes@queenscourier.com

charter school

Middle schoolers are making the jump to Christ the King’s campus quicker than before — through a new charter school set to open this September.

Middle Village Preparatory (MVP) Charter School received approval January 1 to open its doors this fall to 120 sixth grade students, and will offer an expansive middle school education as well as alleviate overcrowding in the district.

“The last two years, [opening the school] is something that we have really focused on,” said Michael Michel, president of Christ the King Regional High School and the founder of MVP.

MVP will be housed in an area of Christ the King that is currently unoccupied — roughly a 50,000-square-foot section reserved for a new administration and students.

Michel and the founding board are currently searching for a principal for the new charter school and also for a Director of Operations. By the middle of February, applications will be sent to fifth grade students in District 24, urging them to spend their next year at MVP. If 120 students don’t apply, admission will open up to the entire city, and by April, the student body will be selected.

“Families should have a choice. We have good public schools, we have good private schools, but there’s only one charter school in the district,” said Michel.

The 120 selected students will then advance to the seventh grade, and a new 120 students will be selected for the sixth grade, and so on, until a 360-student middle school forms by 2015.

MVP’s mission is already set, and aims to have more individual and focused education for its students with longer school days and an extended year. Subjects such as Latin will be a requirement, and math and English will have double the amount of customary instruction time.



Seven charter schools vie for spots in Queens

| aaltman@queenscourier.com


Francis Lewis, a science teacher at the High School of Contemporary Arts in the Bronx, is displeased with incoming students’ lack of basic educational skills.

“I see the students that come in and the deficiencies they have,” said Lewis. “Not everyone can read.”

Fed up with sub-standard achivement, Lewis, along with partner and fellow teacher Dennie Wilson, submitted a bid to open a charter school. Their potential institution, the Community Charter School for Success, is one of seven charter schools vying for spots in Queens that have advanced to the rigorous second and final round of applications.

“Charter schools are important because they allow flexibility,” said Lewis. “You’re not dealing with bureaucracy but with innovation. It gives you autonomy as well. You can focus more on results rather than bureaucracy.”

The Community Charter School for Success hopes to promote problem solving and critical thinking, focusing on mathematics and literature — subjects Lewis refers to as “building blocks of success.”

The educators applied with the Department of Education (DOE) to host their school inside Far Rockaway’s Alternative School 222 in School District 27, an area Wilson says does not currently have a charter middle school. Lewis says the addition of a charter school could quell crowding among the borough’s packed facilities, reducing class sizes from 35 students down to 20.

The new slate of potential schools also includes a Flushing-based Chinese language and culture institution, called the Whole Elephant Charter School. The curriculum will include martial arts training, traditional painting techniques and East Asian language courses.

While charter schools have a controversial history, Wilson feels adequate community outreach has pacified some negative attitudes.

“Some people are for charter schools, some people are against them,” said Wilson. “We’ve treaded the water cautiously, reaching out to people and explaining the need for a charter school.”

Lewis claims ill feelings towards charter schools spawn from co-location tensions voiced by parents, fearful charter students could displace public school kids.

“For the most part, some schools are not friendly to new tenants,” said Lewis. “We’re very much aware of that.”

There are 159 charter schools throughout New York City: 61 in Brooklyn, 44 in the Bronx, 40 in Manhattan, 11 in Queens and three in Staten Island.

The Central Queens Academy Charter School is the newest addition to the borough’s roster. The middle school will open this fall in a private, undisclosed location in School District 24.

According to Petra Tuomi, a spokesperson from the New York City Charter School Center, institutions must form five-year-long contracts, as they operate independently from the Department of Education (DOE). Tuomi said this freedom allows schools to operate by their own standards, administering lengthier academic years, designing custom curriculums and selecting their own teachers and staff.

Class sizes are generally smaller for the 56,600 students who are enrolled in charter schools across the city. Schools receive the same amount of funding as district schools — $13,527 per pupil from the DOE — as well as grants from private donors.

While Queens is the borough with the highest rate of overcrowding in schools, Tuomi assured the addition of charter schools does not displace public school students.

“It boils down to the availability of public space,” said Tuomi. “Every school deserves room and equal access to public space. That has been a reason why it’s tougher to start charter schools in Queens — limited access to public space.”