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Addition of charter schools is good news for NYC kids

Teachers and parents met at Cadman Plaza in

Teachers and parents met at Cadman Plaza in Brooklyn to hold a rally before marching across the Brooklyn Bridge and ending at City Hall. The rally is geared on supporting Charter Schools. (Oct. 8, 2013) Photo Credit: CS Muncy

Soon there will be 17 new charter schools in the city. Terrific!

And as the State University of New York signed off on them this week, it said 14 of the schools would be run by Success Academy, whose founder, Eva Moskowitz, is a formidable commander in the education wars.

This is a controversial but critical step forward in the long struggle to better educate our children.

The United Federation of Teachers loathes Moskowitz. Mayor Bill de Blasio has spoken disparagingly about her and once tried -- unsuccessfully -- to stop expansion of her network. Some parents around the city believe Success Academy and other charter operators want to siphon space and other resources from traditional public schools.

And because most charters don't adhere to union work rules, some educators regard them as a mortal threat.

But check the record.

On this year's state tests, Success Academy students scored in the top 1 percent of all public schools statewide in math. They were in the top 3 percent in English.

This is big.

While many mistakenly dismiss all charters as elite institutions, they're anything but. They're public schools that are often backed by private contributions.

Their student bodies are overwhelmingly Hispanic and black -- kids who hail from neighborhoods like Harlem, the South Bronx and Bed-Stuy. And charter students in all schools citywide tend to score better than students in the district schools in their neighborhoods.

The challenge now is to borrow some of the methods of Success and put them to work in the district schools.

What's the secret? Educators are debating. But this much is clear. Students and teachers work longer days in charters than they do in regular public schools.

And Success Academy schools are especially rigorous. Discipline is swift. Order is strictly maintained. And unfinished homework is not an option.

In a city where many public schools have floundered for generations to find a successful formula, Moskowitz's success should not be written off. It should be emulated.

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