42 THE QUEENS COURIER • KIDS & EDUCATION • FEBRUARY 27, 2020 FOR BREAKING NEWS VISIT WWW.QNS.COM
kids & education
NYC students have until April 1 to apply to high-demand charter schools
BY GRANT LANCASTER
As New Yorkers have seen increased
test scores and more personalized school
experiences at charter schools in the city,
the number of applicants for these schools
has jumped 26 percent in the last fi ve
Charter school students make up about
11 percent of New York City public school
students, with an estimated 126,400 students.
Each year, about 33,000 seats open
up for new students at 260 charter schools
across the fi ve boroughs.
Th e fi rst step for getting one of these
seats is applying.
Many charter schools have their own
application forms that parents can get
from the school’s website, but some
schools use the Common Online Charter
School Application, allowing parents to
apply for multiple schools at the same
Th e deadline for the common application
is April 1. Some charters may have a
later deadline, but in general, any applications
submitted later than April 1 could
be denied or result in the students being
Next, the schools will narrow down
a fi eld of more than 81,000 applicants.
Because of the high demand, some students
are sure to get put on a waitlist.
In order to keep the selection system
fair, these schools use a lottery system to
decide who they will accept.
But the lottery system is not completely
random – charter schools are required
to give preference to returning students,
siblings of enrolled students and students
that live in the same Community School
District as the school. So students that
apply to a local school have a better
chance of getting in, and once one child
in a family is accepted, others will have an
easier time getting a seat.
Some schools also choose to off er
enrollment preference to students that are
academically at risk or come from low-income
families, English language learners,
students with disabilities and children of
school staff .
One of the reasons so many people apply
for spots at charter schools is that these
students tend to test better than other public
school students, with charter students
testing at about 57 percent profi ciency in
English language arts and about 63 percent
in math in 2019, compared to public
school students who had about 45 percent
profi ciency in English language arts and
about 46 percent in math, according to
the New York City Charter School Center.
Another aspect that may attract parents
is that charter schools have the chance to
off er special learning programs or specialized
curriculum to their students. For
some students, this might help them think
and learn diff erently.
Although some of these programs
could be considered experimental, charter
schools have a high success rate, with 113
operating in New York City for more than
10 years and only 20 closing since New
York charter schools were created in 1998.
Th e demographics of charter schools
looks diff erent than the demographics of
public school students as a whole, with
a greater percentage of black students at
charter schools than in public schools as
a whole, according to the New York City
Department of Education.
While 52 percent of charter students are
black, 25.5 percent of the students in public
schools as a whole are black. Th e percentage
of Hispanic students is about the
same, with 39 percent of charter students
and 40.6 percent in public schools overall.
Charter schools lack a signifi cant percentage
of Asian students, compared to
the 16.2 percent Asian students in public
schools as a whole.
Of charter school students, 80 percent
are economically disadvantaged, 18 percent
are students with disabilities and 7
percent are multilingual learners.
Charter schools are free public schools
that operate off of public money but have
a private board, putting them outside
the direct control of the New York City
Department of Education. Th ere are three
groups in New York City that can authorize
these schools, with the largest, the
State University on New York Charter
School Institute, supporting 161 of the
city’s charter schools.
DOE lengthens timeline of southeastern Queens diversity plan
BY MAX PARROTT
The Department of Education
announced Feb. 19 that it will extend the
timeframe of the controversial plan to
desegregate school District 28 in order to
give parents more say in the process.
Th e southeastern district, which stretches
from Forest Hills down to Jamaica, fi rst
announced it would receive funding to
study how to best diversify its schools
in June. Since then, the plan has been
delayed aft er outcry from parents and
heated public meetings.
Th e plan involves meetings at every elementary
and middle school in the district
starting in March, where the school offi -
cials will give information about the process.
Th en in May, WXY Studio, a consultant
hired by the city DOE to helm the
process, will hold six diff erent workshops
across the district that will end up infl uencing
the plan’s recommendations.
“Th is is not a ‘top-down’ process for
change; this process relies on District 28
families to make their voices and positions
heard. Th ere are no predetermined
outcomes — recommendations will grow
exclusively from the community empowerment
process detailed below for a
planned release in December 2020,” wrote
DOE offi cials in the letter updating the
In addition to providing the timeframe
for in-district parents, the announcement
identifi ed names and affi liations of
the members of the District 28 working
group, the body that will ultimately write
recommendations. Critics of the integration
eff ort had previously expressed concerns
that the identities of the people in
charge of the process were being concealed.
Along with the publication of the names
of the working group members, the DOE
also said that it would be looking for more
members to join the working group.
At Mayor de Blasio’s Forest Hills town
hall on Feb. 19, Community Education
Council 28 President Vijah Ramjattan
entreated him to scrap the plan completely
and start over because he was
unhappy with the makeup of the working
“I’m seeing a group of 20 people who
are being selected by a diff erent entity to
represent the district children and parents
of District 28,” Ramjattan said. “Let’s vote
as a community for who we want to represent
De Blasio suggested a compromise that
the community, including the CEC, would
have more say in choosing the additional
members to the working group.
When another constituent at the town
hall pointed out that thought Jewish residents
were underrepresented on the
working groups, de Blasio again suggested
that he would put her in touch with the
DOE to get her feedback in assigning new
members of the group.
“We are not here to represent specific
groups, and our aim is to gather voices
of everyone in the D28 community,” reads
the letter introducing the members of the
Visit d28diversityplan.com/ to fi nd
updates and more information about the
Photo courtesy of the DOE and WXY Studios
Photo via Getty Images