View all Events
Event Education

A Light Shines in Harlem: New York’s First Charter School and the Movement It Led

Tuesday October 2014


Michelle Haynes Principal, Sisulu-Walker Charter School
Steven Klinsky Founder, Sisulu-Walker Charter School
Harvey Newman Senior Fellow, CEI-PEA
Michael Duffy President, Great Oaks Foundation

Fifteen years after the first charter school, Sisulu-Walker, opened in Harlem, there are now 197 charter schools in New York City serving 82,000 children—about 7.5% of all public school students. Most charters are performing better than their district counterparts. Students and parents are being given a meaningful choice of public school. And the whole system is benefiting from charter schools’ infusion of new ideas and urgency.

New York’s experiment with charter schools is widely regarded as a success, but issues remain. Charters still receive less per-pupil funding than district schools. Many smaller and independent charters were shortchanged by the new state law, and still do not receive facility space or rent support. And New York City will, once again, soon hit the state-imposed cap on new charter schools.

The Manhattan Institute and the Center for Educational Innovation-Public Education Association have assembled a panel to discuss these issues and address several key questions: What have been the great innovations of the charter sector over the last 15 years? What will New York’s charter sector look like 15 years from now? What are the characteristics of a successful charter school? How can charters and district schools work more collaboratively and learn from each other? What is the proper role of business leaders, civil rights leaders, and philanthropists in charter schools?

Sy Fliegel, President, CEI-PEA
Michelle Haynes, Principal, Sisulu-Walker Charter School
Steven Klinsky, Founder, Sisulu-Walker Charter School
Harvey Newman, Senior Fellow, CEI-PEA
Michael Duffy, President, Great Oaks Foundation

Moderator: Mary Bounds, Author, A Light Shines In Harlem