NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

New York Approves Charter Schools

June 16, 1999

A state board in New York has selected the first eight charter schools to open in the state. Four of the schools will be run by for-profit corporations, a move bitterly opposed by teachers' unions and most school superintendents in the state -- including New York City schools Chancellor Rudy Crew.

  • The schools represent a mix of ethnic and regional interests and are located in New York City, Albany, Syracuse and Long Island.
  • Three of the schools are scheduled to open this fall and the remaining five in the fall of 2000.
  • The State University of New York -- which has authority under the law to issue charters to 50 new schools -- made the selection.
  • A school located in Harlem will lease its building from a Baptist church, but in accordance with the charter law no religious instruction will be given.

That school, to be known as Sisulu Academy, is one of the for- profit schools. It will be run by Victory Schools Inc., a private management company set up by Steven B. Klinsky, a general partner in Forstmann Little & Co., a leveraged buyout firm. Another partner is Theodore J. Forstmann, who has raised $170 million for scholarships to send poor children to private schools.

Klinsky expects to get $6,000 per pupil in state, federal and local funds -- about $2,000 less than New York City spends on its students.

The state Board of Regents also has the power to approve 50 charters. But a representative says no one has applied for them yet. The university says it received 15 applications. Those involved with the charter movement report that finding appropriate real estate is a major obstacle.

Source: Anemona Hartocollis, "State's First Independent Schools Are Picked, and Criticism Is Swift," New York Times, June 16, 1999.


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