Today’s news:

DOE Charter charge is on! - Two new schools poised for debut

Two new charter schools are closer to opening their doors.

The city Department of Education (DOE) approved the proposals for the Explore Charter School II and the Fahari Academy Charter School. The schools’ applications were forwarded to the state Board of Regents, which has the final say in whether or not to open the schools. A decision is expected by early next year.

According to DOE documents, Fahari Academy seeks to open in 2009 within School District 17, which includes Flatbush and Crown Heights. The school would boast nearly 400 students in grades five to 12.

Explore Charter School II wants to open in District 17 or 18, which includes East Flatbush and Canarsie. The school would open in September 2009 and eventually offer classes in kindergarten to eighth grade.

James Dandridge, president of District 18’s Community Education Council (CEC), says he “reserves judgment” on charter schools but believes parents deserve options for their children.

“They do need a choice,” he said. “It gives parents an opportunity, especially if they feel they are not getting served in the public school system, which I can understand because of a lack of parental involvement.”

Charter schools are billed as small learning environments that better prepare students for standardized exams and college. Critics say they are mini private schools selecting the brightest students and operating under little day-to-day supervision from city and state officials.

The schools, which receive public and private funding, have a small school format but are held to different accountability standards than traditional public schools.

As per regulations, when the state approves a new charter school, the school agrees to meet specific student achievement standards. Five years later, if those standards are met, the charter is renewed and the school remains open. If not, the school is closed.

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