Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Governor Comes Out for Charter Cap Increase

Governor David Paterson yesterday came out in favor of an increase in the cap on charter schools, embracing the recommendation of the state Board of Regents. Both the New York Observer and the New York Post covered his remarks. The Governor reiterated his support for a cap lift last evening at a town hall meeting in the Bronx.

The Governor rightly emphasized the importance of New York State competing for up to $700 million in new federal money from the Race to the Top program, and the importance of increasing the cap to have a stronger state application to be awarded this funding.

Leadership Needed - Quickly
Now that the Governor has stepped up verbally to embrace education reform by the Regents, his leadership is vital to get the legislature to enact the charter cap lift and many other reforms advocated by the Regents. Reform always begins with executive leadership, without which it is bound to fail. Not only must there be legislative action, but it must happen soon -- like, in the next 30 days with Christmas and New Year's intervening.

That way, the state's application for Race to the Top, due to Washington on January 19, can contain actual reform accomplishments which count, rather than promises of reform which do not count in the federal points rubric.

Legislation should be advanced by the Governor with all the Regents recommendations, and he should make education reform for Race to the Top the centerpiece of his state of the state speech on January 6. To drive home the point of urgency, he should ask the legislature, which meets in joint session for this annual speech, to stick around and pass legislation for the state's application. Time is running out.

$700 Million Still Real Money
Seven hundred million doesn't buy what it once did, but it still makes a critical difference in the finances of the state and school districts to educate students. Those funds will accrue not to charter schools but mostly to school districts, which is reason enough to get on board with the Regents education reform.

Peter Murphy
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.