Bronx Families are Voting with their Feet for High-Quality Charter and District Options: Applications for Charter Schools up at least 63% in Borough

Data Shows Need for Bold, Systemic Change to Fix Failing Schools Crisis and Fulfill Parent Choice

NEW YORK, NY — A new report (attached) by Families for Excellent Schools finds that 33 of Bronx’s lowest-performing schools have sustained a severe enrollment decline of 31% in just the last five years, as applications for charter schools have increased by at least 63% and enrollment at all other Bronx schools has increased by 10% over the same time period. The findings point to a steadily accelerating trend of Bronx parents voting with their feet for bold, systemic change to fix an urgent failing schools crisis and provide more high-quality charter and district options for students.

“This is a clear vote of no confidence in the city’s strategy to fix a failing schools crisis that disproportionately impacts the Bronx,” said Jeremiah Kittredge, CEO of Families for Excellent Schools. “With 65,000 children stuck in Bronx failing schools, parents are voting with their feet for better options.”

Since 2009, the failing schools crisis in the Bronx has only deteriorated, as the borough now hosts 149–nearly half–of New York City’s persistently failing schools wherein 9 out of 10 students are denied the education they need to read or do math at grade level. Surrounded by failing schools, parents have strived to enroll their students at high-quality charter or district schools by any means possible. One out of every three families on New York City’s charter school waiting lists has applied to a Bronx charter school.

The report’s findings give new urgency to parents’ calls at a press conference earlier this month, urging the State Legislature to pass a bold education package that expands parent access to high-quality charter and district schools. Joined by State Senator Ruben Diaz Sr., Assemblymen Marcos Crespo, Michael Blake, and Mark Gjonaj, and prominent members of clergy, dozens of Bronx parents urged the Governor and State Legislature to fix the failing schools crisis with bold, structural change. Left unaddressed, the enrollment declines at low-performing schools pose substantial challenges for the city and state.

Key Findings:

Parents Are Leaving Failing Bronx Schools

  • 31% Decline: At 33 of Bronx’s lowest-performing schools, enrollment has declined by 31% in the last five years (2009-2014), suggesting that parents are choosing to avoid these schools at alarming rates.
    • Enrollment fell by at least 20% at each of these schools. At 6 schools, enrollment fell by a startling 40% or more.
    • This stands in contrast to all other Bronx schools, where combined enrollment increased more than 10% during the same period. At schools that exceeded city averages for proficiency or college readiness, enrollment grew by 12%.
  • Low-Performing Schools: These schools had an average ELA/math proficiency rate of 9.7% (less than half that of all other Bronx schools) and an average college readiness rate of 3% (less than one-fifth that of all other Bronx schools).

Parents are Seeking High-Quality District and Charter Schools

  • The combined waiting list for seats in Bronx charter schools in 2013-14 was about 16,300 kids — the highest of any borough.
    • About one out of every three parents in New York City who are on a charter school waiting list have applied to a Bronx charter school.
  • The number of applications to Bronx charter schools has increased by 63% (8,125 families) since 2010.
  • In all six of the borough’s Community School Districts, charter schools outperformed district schools in both math and ELA.
    • For example, in District 7 charter schools, 45% of students are proficient in math—compared with 12% in district schools.

Families for Excellent Schools harnesses the power of families to advance policy and political changes that create and sustain excellent schools.

On Twitter at: @Fam4ExcSchools 

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