Budget Cuts and Rent-Free Charter Schools: The Ugly Education Legacy of Ex-NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg
On December 16, 2013, two letters were sent to Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio. One was a letter signed by 140 principals from across the city. The other, a letter signed by 19 of the 32 Community Education Councils in addition to the Citywide Council on English Language Learners, the Citywide Council on Special Education, the Citywide District 75 Council, and individuals from the Citywide Council on High Schools and Community Education Council 23.
The common thread to these letters was clear, the NYC school system needs to purge itself of the toxic "reforms" instituted by former Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
the Board of Education
and community school boards:
In 1969, then mayor John Lindsay relinquished control of NYC schools after a series of protests and demands from the public for community control of community schools. This led to the creation of 32 elected community school boards and a central Board of Education(BOE) made up of 7 members appointed by the mayor and borough presidents.
In 2002, Mayor Bloomberg took control of NYC schools and abolished the BOE and the community school boards, essentially shutting down parental democratic access to their children's education.
The BOE was replaced by the Panel for Educational Policy(PEP). The PEP consists of 13 appointed members, 8 appointed by the mayor and one each appointed by the borough presidents. Community boards were replaced with Community Education Councils(CECs).
Not only do the CECs have very little power when it comes to affecting change in community schools, they are poorly advertised and sparsely attended. These changes have left parents feeling locked out and voiceless in their children's schools.
Changes in funding:
The introduction of "Fair Student Funding"(pdf) had 3 main goals; to increase equity in funding schools while preserving stability, to improve student achievement, and to make school budgets more transparent.
The Independent Budget Office(IBO) has found that the funding formula actually underfunds 94% of schools and is not easily understood or transparent, according to a report released April 10 of this year.
Increase in the
number of charter schools:
Ex-NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg has been a champion of for-profit charter schools. Under his management, 175 charter schools have opened in NYC since 2002.
These schools are often opened in place of larger community schools that have been closed by the Mayor-controlled PEP. Or, they force their way in to already existing school buildings rent-free, using space and resources that were originally meant for public schools.
While the majority of public schools are seeing their budgets cut, spending for charter schools is expected to exceed $1billion in the next school year.