Gov. Paterson has been supportive of charter schools, but lately has taken a more wait-and-see approach on the cap lift. Hopefully, this is a matter of timing as he wants action first on his mid-year deficit reduction proposals. The cap on the number of Regents and NYC Chancellor-approved charters will be reached by January, or be very close to it, as more than a dozen charter applications are likely to be approved by then. SUNY has more room under its cap. (NOTE: The two statewide charter authorizers, SUNY and the Regents, are each capped at 100 charters.)
Charter advocates, including The Chalkboard, have been arguing that the state also should lift the cap now to compete for federal Race to the Top funds, especially since President Obama has called for states to do so and several have followed through on his request.
As for Speaker Silver, he's not one to act favorably on charters without consensus from the other players, including the Governor, the Senate, and enough of his own members in the Assembly Majority Conference. He's been around too long to get in front of an issue like this until he sees enough others demanding it, especially with historic union opposition to the issue. Certainly, the Speaker has been willing to compromise on charter schools when the time comes.
Manhattan Institute Breakthrough Study
In making the case in favor of charter schools, the Daily News editorial cites a just released study by Marcus Winters of the Manhattan Institute (http://www.manhattan-institute.org/) that found that the more district schools in New York City lost in enrollment to charter schools, the better those district schools performed on the state English exam; that is, there's been a reverse "creaming." In other words, if a district school lost a significant number of students to charter schools, it followed that its scores on reading noticeably improved.
Considering charter schools have, on average, attracted a greater percentage of low-income students that generally do more poorly on state exams, it stands to reason that the district schools from which they departed would improve their overall scores. Now, the Manhattan Institute study has documented such findings.
The objective of charter schools, first and foremost, has been to improve student learning and achievement for those students who attend their school. The statutory objectives in the Charter Schools Act make this clear. It's never been about improving the district, or spurring innovation on a district-wide basis, which sometimes has been a straw-man criticism of charter opponents.
The findings by Winters study for the Manhattan Institute are significant in that the presence of charters has indeed had a positive effect on district test scores, at least for those schools that had enough of a student exodus to charters. State policymakers take note.
for The Chalkboard
Disclaimer: The Chalkboard is hosted by the New York Charter Schools Association (NYCSA) as a place where members, public education advocates and others can view and respond to informed commentary on timely public education and charter school issues. The views expressed here are not necessarily the official views of the NYCSA, its board, or of any of its individual charter school members. Anyone who claims otherwise is violating the spirit and purpose of this blog. To comment on anything you read here, or to offer tips, advice, comments, or complaints. please contact TheChalkboard.