Does $700 Million Matter to the UFT?
The purpose of the event is to present proposals to "reform" the state's charter school law. This comes after the state Board of Regents--normally quite deferential to the UFT--approved several pro-charter recommendations at its meeting this month, including raising the charter cap and providing facilities funding. Not all 16 Regents are pro-charter school, but they all understood that these and other education reform provisions are essential for New York to position itself to win competitive Race to the Top funding from the Obama administration. Another $700 million or so for New York would come in very handy nowadays, and its something the UFT should keep in mind since its own members stand to benefit from this money.
Will the UFT follow the Regents example? If history is any guide, it will propose poison-pill measures to weaken the Charter Schools Act, while trying to disguise them as reform. We've seen this over the years in the form of malevolent legislation introduced by its allied legislators.
UFT proposals also should be considered in their context -- it doesn't generally like charters schools, which is their competition. The union's proposals should be understood with that premise, which makes a mockery of its use of the "reform" label.
This whole anti-charter exercise by the UFT is anti-climatic, to say the least. More importantly, state policymakers should not risk losing or diminishing the federal Race to the Top money by going backwards at the behest of the establishment and diluting on the Charter Schools Act. President Obama is all too aware of the unions dislike for charter schools, yet he has been clear and almost audacious about promoting charter schools in the public system. New York should follow his leadership.
"Separate but Equal" Ugliness by UFT - So Unnecessary
Finally, the UFT's announcement of its event includes the ugly phrase "separate but equal system" as it describes charter schools. Are they serious? This highly-charged terminology is offensive and deliberately polarizing. It has no place in the charter school discussion or the UFT's lexicon. The union's leaders chose these words not by accident, but I suspect as an attempt to smear charter schools with an oppressive part of American history as the UFT looks to turn supportive state legislators against charter schools.
Disagree with charter schools all day long, but this demagoguery by the UFT is shameful and has no place in any policy debate.
for The Chalkboard
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