Thursday, December 14, 2006

Parents Against Charter Cap Being Lifted

The pro charter school, anti public education, anti union movement always claims it is teachers who are opposed to lifting the charter school cap of 100 schools in New York State. Of course, the union has a problem addressing this issue since it runs 2 of the 100 schools. The UFT says it will compromise if it is easier for charter school teachers to join a union. There are even back door rumors that the union would even make a political deal in exchange for who knows what.

If you subscribe to Leonie Haimson's listserve, which serves a large group of parents, you will notice that there is a lot of sentiment to oppose charters because they draw resources from public schools. Here are 2 emails posted today (12/14).

Assembly woman Sylvia Friedman:

Please Ms. Friedman. Vote against this charter school amendment, which proposes, among other things, to raise the cap on charter schools excluding New York City from a cap altogether. Besides the fact that this bill is designed to gentrify certain neighborhoods, including Harlem, there are problems with this bill and maybe the law itself. How can a charter school share a regular public school building with a regular public school and be granted smaller sized classes, but the other school has to over crowd its classes? I know this is in certain situations but still it can happen. However, even if a charter school took over a building altogether or moved into a new one, why would it not be considered that the charter school is underutilizing the building space, but under the same circumstances a regular public school would be considered? In other words, why does one school get to have 17 students per class, mas or menos, and the other school 30-35, or whatever the cap is?

I understand that the new amendment allows for the chancellor to place schools as he sees fit, unlike the current law which only allows him to place schools with one another only upon the grounds that such school is underutilizing the school building space or failing. But I have problems with that too. Under our Education law he is supposed to provide for an equal opportunity for all students in the city schools. One public school cannot have the benefits of a smaller class size by enforcement and the other not, also by enforcement. So you see where this is going to lead us? I would think in court. Parents are not going to stand for this.

The assembly will get their raises from the next governor. But the assembly should not violate the trust of the people for a raise. That will lead us in court too.

Yours truly,

Edward Dixson

The legislature did not raise the charter school cap and the Senate has been dismissed, supposedly until next year. But Spizer was quoted as being disappointed about charters:
"Civil commitment and charter schools are important issues that need to be addressed, either in the current special session or early next year. Other measures, such as lucrative early retirement proposals, should not be rushed through before they are fully analyzed and debated."
Here's a link to the Times Union blog for an account of the events:
If Spitzer supports an increase in charters, the pressure to remove the cap will be much greater. With the cap on charters removed and the CFE money provided with no accountability or strings attached, the Mayor has the elements in place needed to create his parallel system of schools. Our overcrowded schools will be left to wither.
If there was ever a time to reach out to our elected representatives and demand resources be applied to our public schools, this is surely it.

Patrick Sullivan

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