May 04, 2010

Take action to support charter school reform

Source: NYSUT Media Relations
Caption: OPERATORS ARE STANDING BY: NYSUT called on delegates to its annual convention to contact their state representatives at 1-877-255-9417 to oppose lifting the charter school cap without real reform and accountability. Taking action from the floor are delegates from Patchogue Medford Congress of Teachers: (l-r) Lanel Kavander, Linda Nowicki, Jane Conetta and Beth Warnken. Photo by Mike Campbell.

UPDATE 5/4: State Senate approves bill to double number of charter schools; focus now on Assembly

After a two-hour debate, the Senate voted 45 to 15 on Monday evening to raise the cap on the number of charter schools in the state. The union, which opposed the bill because it does not include sufficient reforms, is now counting on the Assembly to vote NO on this legislation.

Call the toll-free AFL-CIO action line today at 1-877-255-9417 to urge your Assembly member to vote NO on expanding the charter school cap without meaningful reform (S.7678/A.10928).

The Senate vote came after union activists blitzed Senate offices with phone calls opposing the hastily-prepared bill filed late last week. Most Republicans supported the bill and about one-third of the Democrats voted against it. Gov. David Paterson voiced his support for the bill, claiming it would improve the state's chance to win Race to the Top funding.

NYSUT Executive Vice President Andy Pallotta thanks the 15 senators who voted against the bill: Neil Breslin, Tom Duane, Liz Krueger, Kenneth LaValle, Velmanette Montgomery, Suzi Oppenheimer, Frank Padavan, Bill Perkins, Stephen Saland, Eric Schneiderman, Jose Serrano, William Stachowski, Toby Ann Stavisky, Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Antoine Thompson.


Take Action

BY PHONE: Call the toll-free AFL-CIO action line today at 1-877-255-9417 to urge your state Assembly member to vote NO on expanding the charter school cap (S.7678/A.10928).

ON-LINE: Sign the petition from Class Size Matters and the New York Charter Parents Association.

What's wrong with the current bill?

NYSUT cannot support lifting the charter school cap without enacting the following critical reforms.

  • School district protections from authorizing multiple charter schools to operate in one school district – over saturation – (e.g. Albany and Buffalo);
  • Equity in funding – There is no funding parity between charter schools and traditional public schools;
  • A ban on for-profit operation of charter schools;
  • Statutory requirement for the state Comptroller to audit charter schools to ensure transparency and accountability;
  • Prevailing wage language protections;
  • Co-location language - especially in New York City – to help traditional public schools from losing vital classroom space through co-locating charter schools in the same building

In the current bill, transparency and accountability are still weak:

  • There is no language in the bill to include charter school payments in the property tax report card.
  • Charters must only "demonstrate efforts" to attract and retain high needs, at risk, or students in need of support services;
  • Does not require charter schools to show how they intend to provide services to students on long-term suspension or expulsion;
  • No language to require SED to include charter schools in any review or audit of state test administration and scoring;
  • There is no reporting of the number of students leaving the school, why they left, and when they left.