Sunday, September 18, 2005

Lifting The Charter School Cap In New York State

The New York Daily News is advocating an end to the cap on the number of charter schools within the State: (emphasis added)
In many neighborhoods, a charter school is the only chance kids have to get a decent education. A relative handful of youngsters - 12,000 of the city's 1.1 million public school students - attend these schools. Thousands more are clamoring to get in. Unfortunately, the city soon won't be able to meet the demand unless Albany acts.

Charter schools, which operate independently of the Education Department and are largely exempt from the teachers' contract, consistently outperform the dismal schools that surround them. On last year's English Language Arts exam, 62% of charter school students scored at or above grade level, compared with 55% of their peers at regular public schools. In math, the score was 61% versus 50%.

Charters have longer school days and, sometimes, longer academic years. Their classes are smaller. Principals handpick their teachers and have no trouble bouncing those who can't impart knowledge or control classes. Everyone in the building is expected to give 100%.

New charters are flooded with applications even before they open and must turn away many more students than they can take. So desperate is the need that the city committed $250 million for matching funds to construct school buildings for charters.

The Education Department has 19 applications in hand for charters to open in the next school year, and 50 organizations have expressed interest in creating more further down the road. Too bad they may not get the chance.

Under state law, there is a cap of 100 charter schools for the state - yes, the entire state - and New York City has 47 of them. Of the 100 statewide spots, 85 are taken. Unless Albany changes the rules, just 15 more charter schools can open in all of New York State.

So scrap the aforementioned hopes for the city. Scrap the educational future of all those city kids.

The Legislature must lift the cap when it reconvenes in January. Creating a successful charter requires at least a year of planning. If Albany delays, there won't be any schools in the pipeline, and the kids will have to wait even longer. Which would be a disservice to them and to education.
I really don't understand why the State of New York would limit the number of charters statewide to such a small number. Is there some logical explanation why?
View this week's Carnival of Education, guest hosted by Ms. Frizzle, right here. Next week's midway will open here at 'The Wonks next Wednesday. Submissions are due by 9:00 PM (Pacific) Tuesday, September 20th. Send them to owlshome [at] earthlink [dot] net.

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