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Could D.C. learn from New York's charter school facility task force?

New York Mayor de Blasio revealed the other day that he has created a task force to come up with solutions regarding the co-locations of charter schools in traditional public school buildings. The move comes shortly after Mr. de Blasio reversed a decision by the Bloomberg Administration to allow three new charters from Eva Moskowitz' Success Charter School Network to open in New York City schools. Five others were allowed to proceed as planned. The creation of this body is being viewed as a method for the Mayor to soften his criticism of these alternative schools.

Education reformers in the nation's capital should pay close attention to the recommendations of this group. After 17 years the charter school facility issue is far from settled here. The $3,000 per child facility allotment, which has not been increased in years, gives the impression that all is well on this front, while charters continue to operate in buildings better suited for warehouses than classrooms and DCPS receives hundreds of millions of dollars to build shining pedagogical palaces. To add insult to injury the pending Mayoral election has meant that the spigot has been turned off regarding turning over shuttered traditional school sites to those desperate for permanent homes.

Across the country the movement is facing the same problem. The recently released ranking of charter school laws by the Center for Education Reform demonstrates that states uniformly provide little or no funding for charter school facilities. So the short answer is that no one has figured out how to equitably treat charters the same as regular public schools when it comes to bricks and mortar.

Let's hope that New York figures out something that the rest of us have missed. Until then we will unfortunately have to waste precious time and money searching for space instead of educating our children.

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