Saturday, April 03, 2010

Race to the top: how to win round 2

Here's Tom Carroll with what NY needs to do to have any chance in Round 2:

So what does the Legislature need to do?

1) Bring the charter cap way up -- from the current limit of 200 schools to 460 schools or more. And, again, those "poison pills" are deal-killers -- they'd cost us points in the competition. No "regional caps" on charter enrollment, and no limits on locating charters in city Department of Education space. (And stop trying to take away charter-issuing authority from the SUNY trustees, who have a solid record of good decisions.)

2) Address the one fair point critics raised: New York charters need to address better special education and English-language-learner populations. But the answer here is to let charters give such students preference in admission lotteries -- not to impose quotas, as the unions proposed.

To make this practical, charters must also be allowed to contract with local Boards of Cooperative Educational Services and to set up cooperative arrangements among charter schools to educate difficult-to-serve students. These measures would gain Race to the Top points.

3) End that "data firewall": This expires at the end of June, anyway -- but we need it gone by June 1, the deadline for Round 2 applications.

4) Strengthen and pass the Regents proposal for requiring all teacher evaluations to consider student data in the future.

Tennessee, a winning state, requires 50 percent of a teacher evaluation to be based on student results. The Regents didn't specify a percentage -- so systems could skate by barely using this data. That simply won't cut it.

5) Give the Regents direct authority to close bad schools and to replace dysfunctional school boards.

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