Space in NYC Schools

by NYC Firm Schools on December 7, 2009

The NY Times recently reported on the furious need for space in NYC and the schools, public, private and charter that compete for that space. It can be difficult for families and students who have never lived in a large city to understand the absolute and vital need for space that is a major obstacle for students in New York. In many towns across the country, 4 schools are enough to educate all the children. In NYC, hundreds of schools are not enough. The fight for space in NYC schools has only increased in pace with the size of the City.

One commenter on the NY Times article responded, saying

Public schools are not sharing “their” space with charter schools because they don’t own the space. Taxpayers do.
And what do taxpayers get for providing space to public charter schools? High-performing schools focused on serving the academic needs of students, often in low-income neighborhoods.
According to a study by Caroline M. Hoxby, a Stanford University economist, New York City charter schools are helping to close the Harlem-Scarsdale achievement gap.
Since charter schools have achieved such success in low-income communities, parents will continue to leave failing traditional schools to enroll their children in charters.
Providing space for these successful schools is not the only thing we should be doing; we should also be emulating their practices.

Another commenter responding officially as a member of the NYC Department of Education said:

Your article suggests that the need for city schools to share their building space is caused in large part by charter schools. Long before the advent of charters, the city began housing more than one school in buildings with available space — a common-sense way to maximize the use of scarce school space, given constantly shifting neighborhood enrollments that create both underutilized and overcrowded buildings.
This administration has expanded that practice, and it has constructed 70,000 new school seats, in response to the need for space. In doing so, we have also been able to provide families with more and better options, both charter and non-charter, by creating 400 new schools. Not only do charters represent less than one quarter of these schools, but the type of bureaucracy that oversees a school doesn’t matter to children and shouldn’t matter to us.
It isn’t easy for a school community to give up space, no matter how much of it exists, for any other school or program. Thanks to the hard work of principals and teachers, however, these arrangements have been largely collaborative and serve the best interests of our students.

Emotions run high, as they should, whenever the education of our children is at stake. It is hopeful that a solution can be found for all NYC school children.

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