Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Original KIPP in the South Bronx

Here's a brilliant article in yesterday's WSJ, which focuses on the original KIPP in the South Bronx, in particular Laura Reyes, a former student who is now a teacher there, and Frank Corcoran, her math teacher who is now principal of the school:

This mayoral campaign has intruded. KIPP shares the space with a traditional elementary and middle school, each on a different floor. Co-location is a lever used by charter opponents to fight their growth, but KIPP has survived this long with minimal friction with the neighbors.

"Our basic philosophy is we're a public school," says Mr. Corcoran. "We serve the same community."

As to Mr. de Blasio's proposal to stick him with rent, Mr. Corcoran says, "I'm just concerned about the impact on our program." Resources will have to be found and relocated to pay the state department of education for space. Charters supplement the $13,527 per student reimbursement from the state—several thousand dollars less than traditional schools spend—with outside donations from hedge-fund billionaires, foundations and elsewhere.

Walking along the corridor and stopping to chat with students, Ms. Reyes says she is troubled that "we're considered different" by some people. Last month, she joined about 10,000 charter parents, teachers and students in a march across Brooklyn Bridge to protest the de Blasio attacks. "That really was powerful," she says.

Mr. de Blasio's demand that charter schools pay rent will be a harbinger of his intentions. As mayor, he'll also pick a new city counsel, who will weigh on the flurry of lawsuits filed by union-backed groups to stop co-location. Mayor Bloomberg's lawyer sided with the charters. Every year, City Hall also considers requests for new and additional space for existing charters.

"Education should not be a political issue," says Mr. Corcoran. "It's a social justice issue."

If only.

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