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Monday, May 31, 2010

New York Charter Parents Association On Assembly's Charter Cap Bill

Friday, May 28, 2010

Mona Davids, 917-340-8987
Mariama Sanoh, 917-822-9203


NEW YORK, NY (May 28, 2010) -- The New York Charter Parents Association (NYCPA) is pleased that the majority of the reforms we advocated for are included in the assembly bill.

We thank Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver for his efforts in implementing true charter school reform and listening to the cries of parents of Special Education and English Language Learner students who have been pushed out of charter schools.

With the State Comptroller auditing charter schools we believe the high instances of financial mismanagement and fraud at charter schools will decrease thus the money will go into the classrooms and not in the school leaders pockets.

The prohibition of for-profit management companies operating charter schools is a significant victory because per pupil funding should go to the students and not private profiteers. We will continue to ensure and hold accountable the for-profit operators that are managing charter schools and push for a reduction in their management fees so more money goes to our children.

We strongly believe that the NYC DoE Chancellor should not be an authorizer because of the lax oversight of the Office of Charter Schools. The reinstatement of the chancellor’s authority in authorizing charter schools is a shame. DoE authorized charters are the ones with the least oversight and the most corruption, financial mismanagement, corporate chicanery and incompetent boards. Parents complain to the DoE about the mismanagement and pushing out of Special Education, English Language Learners and low-performing students and they are continuously ignored.

Lastly, we really hoped the co-location process would be improved. There already are building councils at all co-located schools so the recommendation in the bill for the council to include a parent will not make a difference. We need a better process.

NYCPA will continue to advocate for TRUE charter school reform. We will continue to work in partnership with district parents to make ALL schools great schools.


Assembly Approves Sweeping Education Reforms to Support New York State's Application for Race to the Top Funding

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Education Committee Chair Catherine Nolan (at right) today announced the passage of legislation to reform the state's charter school system.

The legislation (A.11310) would raise the cap on charter schools from 200 to 460, helping to ensure that New York State will have one of the nation's most competitive applications for federal funding under the Race to the Top (RTTT) grant program in time for the June 1 deadline. This measure, in conjunction with a strong teacher evaluation system authorized earlier in the week and funding for long-term assessment of student achievement, will help ensure that New York State receives maximum RTTT funding.

"These sweeping reforms will help put an end to divisive fighting over school space and give a meaningful voice in the process to traditional public school parents," said Silver (D-Manhattan). "The legislation also increases transparency by giving the State Comptroller auditing power over charter schools, while ensuring that they enroll and retain children with special needs. This measure will undoubtedly encourage the creation of more successful charter schools in New York State."

"This bill will allow New York State to submit a competitive application for federal Race to the Top funding and increase our chances at receiving up to $700 million for our schools," said Nolan (D-Queens). "I would like to thank New York State Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch, New York State Education Commissioner David Steiner and Senior Deputy Commissioner John King for their leadership, cooperation and hard work."

The legislation creates a new request for proposals process for the creation of 260 new charter schools. The new system favors applications which best respond to certain Race to the Top objectives such as increasing high school graduation rates and addressing student achievement gaps in reading/language arts and mathematics. Requests for proposals for new charter schools would be issued by the Board of Regents and SUNY trustees after undergoing a public review process.

In addition, the legislation would:

* Institute a four-year period over which the 260 new charter schools would be created;
* Prohibit for-profit organizations from operating or managing any new charter schools;
* Ensure that charter schools serve more children with disabilities, English language learners and free- and reduced-price lunch program participants;
* Require the chancellor to develop building usage plans for fair allocation and usage of space;
* Require matching capital improvements to the traditional public school portion of a building when such an improvement is made in excess of $5,000 to the co-located charter school;
* Authorize the State Comptroller to audit charter schools at his or her discretion; and
* Increase accountability by new disclosure and ethics provisions.

The Assembly also passed legislation today that would provide financial support for a state longitudinal data system to measure long-term student achievement (A.11309). Earlier this week, the Assembly passed legislation enhancing the statewide evaluation system for teachers and principals (A.11171).

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