Monday, August 08, 2011

Still Gunning for Charters in the Courts

Here's Peter Murphy of the NY Charter School Assoc on this suit:


Fresh off last week's loss in court, the anti-charter school coalition in New York City has filed yet another lawsuit, this time to impose building costs on charter schools that occupy district space.

A Flawed Case - Let Us Count the Ways
As to the actual issue of the district charging the charter schools, I'm not one to predict what a judge will do with this narrow question, which is the heart of the case, since the bean-counting of which side (charter or district) gets what, is beside the point. Does the law require a school district to charge for space? I submit it does not for several reasons:

1) The statute's intent for charter use of district space was to be a ceiling on what a school district could charge a charter school to utilize surplus or available district space so as not to gouge a charter school since districts are in the business of education, not running a profit-making lease business.

2) At the time of the original adoption of the Charter Schools Act in 1998, it was not foreseen that a school district would allow charter schools to occupy its space for free, nor was there a thought to preclude or prohibit such a scenario.

3) For nearly a decade, Mayor Bloomberg's administration in New York City has provided free space to charters, whose students are entitled to the same "free" space allotted to district school students. It's a matter of equality. The objections charter opponents in New York City have had with such arrangements have been primarily over how much space is available, i.e., turf issues. Accordingly, the state legislature in 2007 and again in 2010 addressed such concerns by requiring public hearings, building utilization plans and other process requirements for charter school use of district facilities; but it made no attempt to clarify or overturn the city's policy of making space available to charters free of charge.

4) Even a literal reading of the law that ignores its implementation for the last decade and subsequent legislative actions raises the issue of it applying only to charters that occupy district space under a "contract" or lease agreement, which do not effectively exist for New York City charters in district space.

Only now, fresh off a defeat in court over space issues, has this issue surfaced from a familiar chorus of groups and individuals whose time would be better spent trying to improve education rather than trying to deny the opportunity through charter schools for other people's children. Sadly, the bogus assertions by these litigants of alleged charter school funding advantages won't stop them from believing and reiterating the ugly "separate but unequal" attack on charters - a loaded phrase if there ever was one.

Competition over best educating children is a good thing, but it's unfortunate that it descends to the level of this lawsuit. Goes with the territory, I guess.


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Still Gunning for Charters in the Courts

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