Tuesday, May 04, 2010

A tip of the cap: State Senate casts a brave vote to expand charter schools

Here's a NY Daily News editorial about this great news:

A tip of the cap: State Senate casts a brave vote to expand charter schools


Tuesday, May 4th 2010, 4:00 AM


The state Senate has taken a welcome step toward bolstering quality education in New York with a bill that would authorize creation of hundreds of new charter schools across the state.

Out of the blue, Senate Democratic Conference chief John Sampson introduced the measure late Friday and rammed it through to passage yesterday over the opposition of many of his members. Heavy support from the Senate's Republican minority made the difference.

The motives behind Sampson's highly rare show of bipartisanship, as well as his willingness to defy the teachers union, were as murky as politicking gets in Albany. No matter, because the bill shot through the Senate at a critical moment.

Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch yesterday notified U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan that New York intends to reenter the competition for Race to the Top funding in the government's second round of awards.

The Legislature's refusal four months ago to lift a cap on charter schools helped doom New York's first shot at as much as $700 million in aid. Sampson may have reversed course now to avoid a fresh burst of public fury were the state to again lose such a bonanza in education moneys.

Charters are publicly funded and privately operated. In New York, under close public supervision, they admit students by lottery and have outperformed traditional neighborhood schools. Most are not unionized.

So exercised was the New York State United Teachers that it urged members to warn lawmakers what would happen if they voted yes.

The Senate bill would increase the cap to 460 schools from 200 schools and establish new standards for accountability and services to special education students and English language learners. Which is all fine.

Now, Sampson's fellow Democrats in the Assembly, where the teachers union holds tight sway, must get onboard. And they must do so without freighting a bill with restrictions that would gut the essence of charter schools as creative educational competition.

Speaker Sheldon Silver and his members owe nothing less to the state's children.

 Subscribe in a reader