No Win Situation

Today, the Daily News ran a story whose headline and lead sentence implied that the decision of the Brooklyn Prospect Charter School to seek space in a privately owned building has resulted in its displacing two day care centers. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

A careful reading of the whole article reveals a different story altogether. The fact is that these two day care centers are being shut down because New York City has defunded them (as part of city-wide budget cuts) not because their space is being rented out to the charter school by a private landlord. The only thing that the charter school had to do with this unfortunate situation is that the charter school is renting the same space that the shuttered day care centers are leaving (space that the landlord had advertised months ago). Why the reporter for the Daily News thought it was accurate to link two entirely separate transactions only he can answer.

But beyond the Daily News’ unfortunate reporting is the story of why Brooklyn Prospect is looking for private space in the first place. Its long-term plan is to renovate a building, thus creating more high-quality seats in the neighborhood. However, renovating the space takes time and money, and both are in short supply. Therefore, when it opened, Brooklyn Prospect needed incubation space and found it in the new Sunset Park High School Building. For this next year, Brooklyn Prospect sought space in another public school building, but the local community and electeds fought the DOE over that siting and continued to fight the alternative plan – staying another year at Sunset Park High. The result was that Brooklyn Prospect, in deference to these complaints, and focused on its mission of providing the children and parents of Sunset Park and Park Slope more high quality public school seats, sought out space in the private marketósomething that charter school haters are always telling charter schools they should do in the first place.

If ever there was a more damned if you do damned if you don’t situation, I haven’t seen it.