Did you notice that it's an election year here in NYC? Oh, you did. So you've probably also noticed that education is being touted as one of the "big" issues? Yeah, us too. So it'll probably come as no surprise to you that this weekend, the first after public schools started and the last before the democratic primaries, has a flurry of edu-centric stories floating around. Of those stories the two main ones are that fewer city schools are on the "failing" list this year (424 total vs. last year's 457) and that Schools Chancellor Joel Klein is pushing for the State to lift its cap on the number of charter schools allowed in the city.
To break down those failing numbers: 331 city schools that receive federal poverty aid failed to meet the "No Child Left Behind" standards last year (compared to 335 last year). Additionally there were 93 schools that don't receive poverty aid that were found to be below standards (down for 122 last year). The numbers are based on fourth- and eighth-grade reading, math and science test scores from last year. This year 47 schools were dropped form the "in need of improvement" list, but 28 were added. Additionally, one city school, the Brooklyn school for Career Development, met the federal bureaucratic definition of "persistently dangerous" (out of five in New York State). Any student enrolled in a "persistently dangerous" school who asks for it is guaranteed a transfer to a safer school. However, if your school isn't "persistently dangerous" than you only have a 20% chance of transfer.
As for the charter cap, Gothamist sees no reason to rush into drastically expanding the program (of the 100 charters the city is allowed only 85 are currently in session and the program is still young) but we totally understand why Klein is pushing for it. We've been following some of the new schools pretty closely and generally think highly of them, programs like Girls Prep sound particularly excellent to us, we just don't want the city to mess up what looks like a good thing by expanding too much too fast. What do you think? Are there any charters that have caught your attention as especially interesting?