Monday, January 4, 2010

Elected Officials and UFT Call for Changes to State Charter School Law - United Federation of Teachers

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Urge amendments to ensure charter schools are open to all, including special ed and non-English speaking students...

Proposed changes would make finances transparent, ban profiteering in publicly financed charters...

State Senate Majority Leader John Sampson talks about FACT - Fairness, Accountability, Choice and Transparency - at the UFT's press conference on Jan. 3rd...

Citing evidence that New York City charter schools enroll far fewer of the city’s poorest students, English-language learners and special education pupils, a group of elected officials, parents and the UFT proposed on Jan. 3 a set of wide-ranging changes to New York State’s charter school law.

The changes are designed to ensure equal access to charters by all students, to increase transparency in charter school finances and operations, and to remove the ability of for-profit operators to use charters as profit centers.

UFT President Michael Mulgrew said, “New York’s charter school experiment has led to some promising innovations, but as a group New York City charter schools have become a separate and unequal branch of public education, working with a far smaller proportion of our neediest students than the average public school.”

“The current law allows charter schools to operate without the transparency in their finances and operations that officials and the public need to judge their success; it also permits charters to become profit centers, paying inappropriate salaries and outsize management fees. Until all these issues are addressed, we are urging the Legislature not to consider any other action on charter schools, including the potential lifting of the charter school cap.”

Mr. Mulgrew added, “Race to the Top guidelines specifically state that charter schools should ‘serve student populations that are similar to local district student populations, especially relative to high-need students.’ How can New York move forward with its Race to the Top application until these inequities are addressed?”

Senate Majority Conference Leader John L. Sampson said, “Charter schools represent an experiment in pursuit of excellence, and we all applaud that intention. But in these tough economic times, those of us in government must demand and extract greater accountability and transparency from every dollar we invest, especially in support of our great asset — the education of our children.”

Assembly Member Darryl Towns said, “I support the UFT’s charter school revisions because they improve balance and equity for students and teachers of the state, as well as better transparency into the finances of these schools, allowing for better oversight by the public.”

New York City Comptroller John C. Liu said, “We have more limited resources than ever before — we have to make sure those resources are in the classrooms and not lining corporate pockets. Charter schools are meant to help make improvements for all students, not a small percentage. As Comptroller, I will insist on the facts, not spin.”