May 06, 2010

Radio ads defend schools and teachers

Source:  NYSUT Media Relations
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ALBANY, N.Y. May 6, 2010 - NYSUT has launched a statewide radio campaign that fights back against for-profit charter school operators who've spent more than a million dollars attacking teachers and their union in recent statewide print and broadcast ads.

The misleading attacks by charter management comes as the for-profit operators are pushing the state Legislature to lift the cap on the number of charter schools allowed in New York without the reforms called for by teachers and parents. NYSUT, which represents teachers in both charters and regular public schools, maintains that, before the Legislature takes action on the charter cap, it must make important reforms to the state's existing charter law. Those reforms include:

  • Requiring charter operators to serve the same population as regular public schools. That includes serving students with disabilities and students who are English language learners.
  • Increasing transparency and accountability by requiring charter operators to fully disclose how and where they spend taxpayer money, where their other financial support comes from and whether anyone is profiting from charter operations.

"Charter management wants carte blanche without having in place the necessary protections to safeguard students and taxpayers - especially those living in cities already saturated by charter schools such as Albany and Buffalo," said NYSUT President Richard C. Iannuzzi. "Charter schools have their place in the state's educational landscape, but there is no place in our education system for profiting off students while underserving them and running from financial accountability during these difficult economic times."

The push by charter operators to lift the charter cap comes as the public education system is facing $1.4 billion in proposed cuts. A recent NYSUT report, which details numerous financial irregularities by some charter managers and how students with disabilities and English language learners are being underserved, illustrates why charter-law reform is needed.

"We want to ensure that all schools - charter and regular public schools - are funded fairly and are accountable and transparent in how they spend public tax dollars, " said NYSUT Executive Vice President Andrew Pallotta. "But there's a failure in current charter law and, as a result, legitimate questions go unanswered."

Pallotta, along with charter teachers and parents, testified last month before the Senate Standing Committee on Corporations, Authorities and Commissions during a hearing on charter schools in New York City.

The NYSUT ad campaign runs in concert with a United Federation of Teachers ad that kicked off in the New York City metropolitan area on Tuesday. The 60-second NYSUT spots will be heard in all markets throughout upstate New York.

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