November 07, 2007
Explain this: Two public schools, one in the South Bronx and one in Harlem, academically outperform most of their counterparts in much wealthier Park Slope, Brooklyn. Stumped? The answer, of course, is that the two schools in question, KIPP Academy and Harlem Village Academy, are charter schools--and damn good ones at that. Some Park Slope parents figured this out and are now asking, "Why shouldn't we have charter schools, too?" (Dan Rubenstein and Luyen Chou, two educators, recently wrote a proposal to start Brooklyn Prospect Charter School, which they hope to open in fall 2009.) It's a good question. Although charters won their fame for creating alternatives to broken inner-city schools, there's no reason to keep them out of wealthier areas, where schools are certainly not immune from stagnation and bureaucracy. Furthermore, as Teach For America alumna Siobhan Sheils points out in a New York Daily News op-ed, more public-school choice will prevent middle-class parents from fleeing to private schools, and thus help curb the "white flight" that has hurt urban districts. Quality schools for all kids--a fine idea.
"Ring in middle-class charters," by Siobhan Sheils, New York Daily News, November 5, 2007