Updated 02/25/2010 01:31 AM
Panel Approves Combined Public, Charter Schools
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Following a heated public comment period in Chelsea last night, the Panel for Educational Policy approved a series of proposals requiring public schools to share space with new schools, including 13 charters.
The crowd filled the auditorium of Fashion Industries High School in Chelsea to maximum capacity and spoke mostly in favor of charter schools -- a position Schools Chancellor Joel Klein shared.
"I can understand why any school moving in would like more space, that makes sense, but what's particularly interesting tonight Mr. chairman is that all of a sudden, when charter schools are involved in sharing space there's been a big political push back and we should see it for what it is," Klein said.
Among the 200 speakers were a parade of charter school students who defended their schools and asked for more space.
"Harlem Success teaches us to share and care about each other. Why can't you share? Please stop cutting our funds," said one charter school student.
Robert Jackson, the chair of the City Council education committee, accused the Department of Education of pitting parents against one another by putting charter schools in existing school buildings.
"Chancellor you should be ashamed of yourself -- to outnumber parents at this meeting tonight," Jackson said.
Other attendees echoed Jackson, accusing the charter organizations and the DOE for packing the auditorium, saying the crowd did not represent public opinion.
"The charter school parents who came here tonight were bussed in, they were given dinner, they were told to get on the bus because that's what Klein instructed them to do," said one attendee. "This is a total sham to have this room packed with charter school parents, little children getting up and giving testimony, you know those children didn't write that testimony."
Charter school advocates say they're public schools too. But since they're not given funding for facilities, they need to be allowed to share public space if they're going to survive at all.
In the end, the mayor-controlled panel sided with the charter schools and voted to approve all of the charter space-sharing arraignments.