What's New

Zack Hutchins
Director of Communications

March 12, 2002

Report: New York's public charter schools are meeting formidable challenges

Serving many high-risk children in mostly high-need areas, New York State's public charter schools are largely achieving the goals set for them in the 1998 state law that created the schools, according to a new report from the Charter Schools Institute of the State University of New York (SUNY).

"Public charter schools have proven themselves to be educational havens, particularly in urban areas across the state, offering new educational opportunities to children and families who could not afford to opt out of their local public schools," according to the report, Charter Schools in New York: A New Choice in Public Education.

"The law is largely working as intended," said Robert J. Bellafiore, president of the Charter Schools Institute. "New innovative public schools are being created in high-need urban areas and are serving families that would otherwise never have a choice, and parents are voting for these schools with their feet."

"What's more, these public schools are leading the way for all public education to focus more on teaching and learning instead of paperwork and bureaucracy," Bellafiore said. "Charter school founders have not only accepted academic accountability, but they have embraced it."

The report also showed that:

Charter schools are innovative public schools of choice created by parents, educators, civic leaders and other community leaders, open to all students and designed to improve learning and provide public school choice. Operating under a five-year performance contract, these schools are freed from red tape and top-down educational bureaucracy in exchange for rigorous accountability for student achievement. Public charter schools must adhere to all health, safety and civil rights laws.

New York's first public charter schools opened in September 1999. That number has grown to 32 this year – 27 new schools and five converted district-run schools in New York City – serving 9,000 children. SUNY has authorized 22 of the 27 start-up schools operating this year.