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A pathway to putting facts first in the co-location debate

Finally, a point of consensus emerges in the charter school space debate: We need an independent evaluation of the process that places charter schools in city buildings.

In the second column to appear in GothamSchools’ occasional series about finding solutions in the charter school space wars, James Merriman, head of the NYC Charter Schools Center, an advocacy organization, writes that while evaluation of the co-location process shouldn’t come at the expense of charter school growth, that doesn’t meant that the process shouldn’t be studied by an impartial observer.

The study would seek factual answers to big questions, Merriman writes:

What are the impacts of co-location in general, including those of gifted and talented programs within zoned elementary schools? What are the educational impacts of co-location? Exactly how many square feet per student do charter and district schools receive, respectively? …What building-level supports could the Department of Education provide to make co-location arrangements go more smoothly, and how could co-location decisions be made more transparent? …

Once completed, such a study could then form the factual basis for a policy discussion on whether the current system needs to be modified. With the facts in hand, we could move beyond shouting to a real conversation.

In the first installment of the series, attorney David Bloomfield wrote that the comptroller is the appropriate person to evaluate the co-location process.

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