Editorial: Unchartered waters

October 17, 2013 Editorial Staff
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On Tuesday, October 15, the city’s Panel for Educational Policy – an oversight board whose members are largely appointed by the mayor – rubber-stamped the co-locations of 23 new charter schools around the city, including several in Brooklyn, over the vocal objections of parents, students and staff.

Normally, such votes are held in the spring, but observers contend that they have been pushed forward to enable Mayor Michael Bloomberg to continue his largely controversial agenda of reshaping the city’s public school system in his final months in office.

Among the schools that will be getting new charter schools in their buildings, based on the PEP’s recent vote, are Seth Low Intermediate School on Avenue P near Stillwell Avenue, and Roy H. Mann Intermediate School in Mill Basin, though local elected officials have vowed to sue the city to stop this from happening.

And, this is just the first round of votes. Later this month, the PEP will be back voting on the co-locations of charter schools within more Brooklyn schools, including John Dewey High School in Gravesend, Joseph B. Cavallaro Intermediate School in Bensonhurst and Midwood’s Andries Hudde Intermediate School.

It seems to us that, in pushing these co-locations, the administration is doing an end run around the school communities that are impacted, disenfranchising those people who are most affected by the change.

In the case of Seth Low, the mandated public hearing at the school was scheduled just days before it was held, and was actually held on a religious holiday. When the CEC objected, a date a week later was offered – but, amazingly, that, too, was a religious holiday.

There certainly are areas in the city where residents want charter schools and local public schools make room in their buildings willingly for the newcomers.

But, the administration should follow proper protocol in establishing such schools, given the stakes – making sure New York City’s youngsters are properly prepared to succeed once they graduate.

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