This is an alarming account of the frenzied efforts by Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Department of Education to cement his “legacy” of opening privately managed charter schools while abandoning the public schools for which he is responsible.
The high school named for the famed Socialist Norman Thomas will be closed and set aside as space for privately managed charters. This is a way of spitting on the memory of a crusader for the public sector, that is, if anyone at the New York City Department of Education ever heard of Norman Thomas.
The new charter high schools will not accept any transfer students; after all, they are not public schools, so why should they comply with the same rules as real public schools?
The article by Gail Robinson of City Limits says that the charter school community of hedge fund managers and equity investors is worried about what will happen after Bloomberg leaves office. There is always the risk that someone might be elected who doesn’t want to privatize public education.
“Until then, Bloomberg is doing what he can. When the new school year starts, the city will open 24 new charter schools, for a total of 183, with spending on the publicly funded, privately run schools set to top $1 billion. And the city Department of Education (DOE) continues to allocate space in public school buildings to many charter schools, which use the rooms rent free.
But the department is also looking beyond Bloomberg’s term, carving out rooms in district buildings for schools that will not open until fall 2014. One, PAVE II, got space in a Bushwick middle school building even though the state has not yet approved its existence. And DOE also has set aside space for a charter that was supposed to open in August 2011; the plan now is for it to finally begun admitting students in September 2014.”
PAVE Academy was started by a billionaire who prefers free space in public buildings, rather than buying or leasing space. Who can blame him? Why not take free public space if the mayor wants you to have it?
Bloomberg himself plans to open four new charter schools, in partnership with billionaire George Soros.
We can only hope and pray for a mayor who takes seriously his responsibility to improve the public education system, which enrolls more than one million children. The needs of those children have been treated as a measurement issue for a dozen years; the public schools have gotten no support, only threats of closure, as the mayor blithely pursues a free-market system, with favor and preference for schools that he does not control, the privately managed schools that enroll 6 percent of the city’s children. Who will care for the other 94%?
The first thing a new mayor should do is clean out the top layers of administrative personnel, those who have abetted the privatization of public education in the City of New York. Shame on them.