Category Archives: charter schools

Charter Schools part 1: Opportunity or Obstacle?

If someone offered you venture capital to launch a new enterprise, avoid most bricks-and-mortar start-up costs (and get government grants to pay what’s left), compensate yourself well and hire young, enthusiastic non-unionized employees, could you pass up the opportunity? Before you answer, consider that you’d also be able to hone your leadership skills, rely on a guaranteed flow of public funding and full liability coverage, continue to augment this with private gifts, and expect customers to line up at your door.

This is the scenario that has lured the thousands of entrepreneurs who,  seeking a more meaningful experience than Wall Street can offer, have started charter schools across the United States.

In business terms, it’s the quintessential American capitalist paradigm: Use government policy to help you grow, and lobby to change that policy if it’s too restrictive. Attract venture capital, market your service, build your customer base, keep your operating costs low and eliminate any local competition before those costs escalate. If you see expenses rising, move on to another opportunity. Continue reading

Charter Schools: Melting Pot or Crucible?

Photo: hawthornestreet.com

Charter schools have become a crucible for New York’s gentrification battles. The latest episode in this war is described in an excellent neighborhood blog called Hawthorne Street. Earlier this week, at P.S. 92 on Parkside Avenue in Brooklyn’s Prospect Lefferts Gardens, a couple of dozen predominantly white supporters of the Lefferts Gardens Charter School squared off verbally against mostly-Black P.S. 92 loyalists who were outraged at the Department of Education’s plan to give some of their school’s space to the new charter school. (Full disclosure: P.S. 92 is our editor’s alma mater.)

One prospective charter parent who attended the meeting, Vernalisa Joseph, called the scene “extremely emotional.” She said the conflict between the two groups of adults was witnessed by their impressionable children, who had been brought along for lack of child care.  “It was very sad. They weren’t always just thinking about the kids.” Continue reading