NEWS AND ISSUES
June 16, 2011
Office of Innovative School Models
New York State Education Department
89 Washington Avenue
Albany, New York 12234
Dear Ms. Bachofer,
As the New York State Senator who represents much of Community School District 2 (D2), in which the New York Flex Charter School proposes to open, I write to urge the New York State Education Department (SED) to deny the school's application.
I believe that charter schools should not take precedence over – or resources from – our traditional public schools. Instead, the State's focus should be on providing high quality public education for all. While it is not within the purview of your agency, I wish to express my dismay that the New York City School Construction Authority apparently overlooked the three viable educational spaces in D2 that this charter school applicant has identified, despite the Authority's repeated assertions that it is constantly seeking leasing opportunities in the area to alleviate the district's chronic school overcrowding.
I also have specific concerns about the merits of this application and its apparent circumvention of recent amendments to New York State Education Law. According to Article 56 §2851.1, "for-profit business or corporate entities shall not be eligible to submit an application to establish...operate or manage a charter school." This provision was paramount in the Legislature's 2010 agreement to raise the cap on charter schools. While the pending application suggests that New York Flex Charter School will "collaborate" with K12 Classroom LLC (K12) – a publicly-traded, for-profit company – K12's Vice President of Public Relations is quoted in a September 21, 2010 City Limits article stating "We will provide the full program, the whole curriculum of the school – every lesson, every day, all the core subjects, including foreign language." He further noted that the company would be "working with the charter board on its application." As such, this proposal appears to violate the spirit if not the letter of the law. SED must neither allow our precious education dollars to be funneled into a for-profit company nor permit the dangerous precedent that would be established by the approval of this charter school.
Thank you for your consideration of my comments.
Thomas K. Duane
New York State Senate
29th Senate District