School Choice & Charters

Catholic Schools Eyed for Charters

By Erik W. Robelen — March 02, 2009 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

A handful of Roman Catholic schools in New York City would face the same fate as a recent batch in the District of Columbia—conversion to public charter schools—under a plan unveiled by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn.

But beyond the potential for legal challenges on church-state grounds, the effort unveiled last month faces a more immediate barrier: A provision of state law, enacted in 1998, explicitly prohibits converting existing private schools into charters.

“This will require a legislative change,” said Melody L. Meyer, a spokeswoman for the New York City Department of Education. “That’s the first step.”

The mayor, she said, was still waiting to hear from leading lawmakers about the likelihood of such a revision, and the timing.

In the District of Columbia, seven former Catholic schools reopened this past fall as charter schools, all operated by a nonprofit organization called Center City Public Charter Schools. (“Former D.C. Catholic Schools Start New Life as Charters,” Sept. 10, 2008.)

“Many Catholic schools are finding it hard to stay open because of tighter budgets and falling enrollment, even as they remain attractive to so many families because of their focus on high academic standards and high student achievement,” Mayor Bloomberg said in a Feb. 7 statement unveiling the charter-conversion plan. The effort, he added, would avoid strains to crowded public schools.

Father Kieran E. Harrington, a spokesman for the Brooklyn diocese, said enrollment in diocesan schools has plummeted over the past decade to 37,000 from 55,000. Six of 116 schools are slated to close in June, he said, and four of those may be converted to charters as soon as this fall.

“It’s important to recognize that these charters would not be Catholic schools,” he said.

Each school would be independently operated with its own board of directors, Father Harrington said. The schools would be free of religious symbols and would provide no religious instruction, he said, though the mayor has indicated that the diocese, which owns the buildings, could use the facilities outside school hours.

A version of this article appeared in the March 04, 2009 edition of Education Week

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Webinar
Stronger Together: Integrating Social and Emotional Supports in an Equity-Based MTSS
Decades of research have shown that when schools implement evidence-based social and emotional supports and programming, academic achievement increases. The impact of these supports – particularly for students of color, students from low-income communities, English
Content provided by Illuminate Education
Classroom Technology Webinar Building Better Blended Learning in K-12 Schools
The pandemic and the increasing use of technology in K-12 education it prompted has added renewed energy to the blended learning movement as most students are now learning in school buildings (and will likely continue
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
A Whole Child Approach to Supporting Positive Student Behavior 
To improve student behavior, it’s important to look at the root causes. Social-emotional learning may play a preventative role.

A whole child approach can proactively support positive student behaviors.

Join this webinar to learn how.
Content provided by Panorama

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School Choice & Charters Bloomberg Launches $750 Million Fund to Grow Charter Schools Amid 'Broken' K-12 System
Former New York City mayor and one-time presidential hopeful Michael R. Bloomberg aims to add 150,000 charter school seats over five years.
5 min read
New York's Mayor Michael Bloomberg, second from left, and Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott, far left, meeting with senior students at the Bedford Academy High School in New York on Dec. 3, 2013. Bloomberg campaigned on gaining control of the nation's largest public school system. left his mark by championing charter schools, expanding school choice, giving schools letter grades, and replacing scores of struggling institutions with clusters of small schools.
Then-New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, second from left, and former Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott, far left, meet with senior students at Bedford Academy High School in New York in 2013.
Bebeto Matthews/AP
School Choice & Charters Opinion The Kind of School Reform That Parents Actually Want
Parents' inclination to focus on solving specific problems rather than system change helps explain the appetite for novel school options.
3 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
School Choice & Charters Opinion What Do Parents Look for When Choosing a School?
New polling sheds light on what a nationally representative sample of parents had to say on this question this summer.
2 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
School Choice & Charters Virtual Charters in Hot Water Again. Accusations of Fraud Prompt $150M Lawsuit
Indiana officials seek to recoup more than $150 million they say was either wrongly obtained or misspent by a consortium of virtual schools.
Arika Herron, The Indianapolis Star
2 min read
Indiana's attorney general Todd Rokita speaks at a news conference on Sept. 16, 2020, in Indianapolis. Rokita filed a lawsuit against a group of online charter schools accused of defrauding the state out of millions of dollars Thursday, July 8, 2021.
Indiana's attorney general Todd Rokita speaks at a news conference on Sept. 16, 2020, in Indianapolis.
Darron Cummings/AP