A rock and a hard place for charter school supporters in New York.
On one hand the call by Governor Paterson, Mayor Bloomberg and Chancellor Klein to raise the cap on charter schools was answered with proposed legislation that would add 200 charters to NY’s existing cap.
One of the caveats—the State Board of Regents would be the only authorizer of these schools—taking Klein out of the picture.
The teacher’s union was in favor of the bill. Chancellor Klein and Mayor Bloomberg had already called out the flaws of the Trojanesque bill.
Raising the cap on charter schools was a piece of the puzzle for New York’s application of $700 million in federal grant funding through Raise to the Top. Reportedly this money has already been budgeted for by New York state leadership. The application deadline was yesterday. Since no compromise could be met between reformers and protectors of the status quo, New York will be applying for federal funds without this key.
“It is unthinkable that after being advised to make specific changes to enhance our application, the legislative leaders could not come to an agreement,” said Governor Paterson and Mayor Bloomberg in a joint statement.
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) felt the failure to compromise was at fault with school chancellor Klein:
“Unfortunately, Mayor Bloomberg and Chancellor Klein were willing to sacrifice the creation of 200 more charter schools rather than accept any limitation on their unchecked power to ignore the voices of parents and displace traditional public schools from existing classroom space,” said Speaker Silver.
Education Secretary Duncan pointed out in a media call yesterday that the grant application point system does not consider mayoral control of education an issue. Raising charter school caps through amending charter school law though—does. Perhaps the biggest point-loser for New York’s application is the lack of collaboration between willing adults on the topic.
“We want to invest in places where people are working together,” Secretary Duncan said in that same call. “We are looking for a balance of education reform and willing adults.”
Whether or not New York has done enough to deserve grant funds will soon be revealed. The first batch of grants is expected to pay in April 2010.
The rest of the applications will be posted on the White House website, complete with comments and suggestions. States that are not rewarded in the first go around are encouraged to incorporate the suggestions and return with improved applications.
For more information:
Education 101: What is a charter school?
Info 101: What is Charter School Law?
Which state is most likely to adopt charter school law in 2010?
Info 101: Comprehensive national directory of charter schools
National Alliance for Public Charter Schools
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Karin Piper is the author and speaker of the award winning Charter Schools: The Ultimate Handbook for Parents (Wyatt-MacKenzie Publishing 2009), which boasts more than 30 chapters of must-know information and a complete school research guide for parents seeking charter schools.
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