Thursday, December 17, 2009

Gov supports raising cap on charter schools

The latest from NY:

Gov supports raising cap on charter schools

Last Updated: 5:32 AM, December 16, 2009

Posted: 12:30 PM, December 15, 2009

In a dramatic reversal, Gov. Paterson this morning called on state lawmakers to raise the cap on charter schools and implement a host of other education changes needed to compete for a huge pot of federal aid.

"I support it (raising the cap)," Paterson said "There is a potential $400 to $700 million that can come into this state to help pay some of these bills. Seven hundred million would be very helpful right now."

Paterson's remarks, which he made at a press conference in the Bronx to sign foreclosure legislation, came a day after the state Board of Regents endorsed a sweeping package of changes intended to make the state more competitive in the $4.4 billion Race to the Top program.

The governor credited a Nov. 19 conversation with U.S. Secretary Arne Duncan with helping him decide the state needed to take action.

"I can appreciate that people have ideological differences with some of the plans, but this is the plan that President Obama and Secretary of Education Duncan have put before us," Paterson said. "And the question is do we want to compete? Are we racing to the top, or are we racing to the middle? Because, if you're in the middle, you're not going to get funding."

Only 30 charters remain under the current 200-school cap. Aside from raising the cap, education advocates believe the state must allow state funding for charter school construction and end a ban on using test scores to determine teacher tenure.

Paterson had previously advocated a more cautious wait-and-see approach to the federal program.

"At this time, we believe New York State is eligible for Race to the Top funds and that legislative changes are currently not needed," the governor's spokeswoman Marissa Shorenstein told The Post in October.

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