Charter Schools Up for a Fight in New York City

Choice creates competition, and competition will lead to public schools losing their monopolies on young minds.  This of course is a very good thing, as it means better educations for every American child.

Charter network Success Academy currently has 20 schools in the city and is looking to open seven more in the next school year in areas such as Williamsburg, Hell’s Kitchen, Gramercy, and Harlem. One would think it would be a good thing to provide children in these areas, largely consisting of non-white and lower-income families, with access to better education. Public school supporters aren’t happy, but Success Academy is continuing despite that opposition. 

Yesterday, the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation, which supports “transforming K-12 urban public education” awarded Success Academy with $5 million to expand in New York. They chose Success Academy due to their incredible recent performance in state testing. Two Success Academy Schools in the South Bronx were ranked in the 25 best schools in the state. With a poverty rate of 88%, that is almost unheard of. That’s why we need school choice providing options to all families.  

Rebecca Wolf DiBiase, managing director of programs for The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation said “Clearly, Success Academy Charter Schools is doing something right, and this investment underscores our belief that high-quality charter schools need to expand so we ensure that more students have the opportunity to attend a great school.” 

That expansion could affect large numbers of students, as they are looking to add up to 100 new schools in the coming decade. With so many applications per seat, there is a lottery to determine which students will be allowed a place at Success Academy’s current schools. With 100 additional schools, they could have the infrastructure to help a larger percentage of the children who do not get a place in the lottery. 

If the past is any guide, however, this won’t be an easy road. Parents and teachers have spoken out against the schools, calling them “Vampire(s),” “public enemies,” and “parasite(s),” as these charter schools use public spaces and school buildings in which to teach children. 

Rather than seeing charter schools through an “us vs. them” mentality, more educators and parents need to see education as being all about the children. Isn’t education supposed to benefit the kids? Whatever can give the most children the best education is the best solution. Education will never be perfect, but we can do better. Charter schools are a good place to start.