SUNY is a high-quality authorizer, and among the best in the country. That's the view of the U.S. Department of Education and national charter organizations.
Extrapolating from the just-released CREDO study from Stanford University shows that of the New York City charter schools it examined, the SUNY-approved charters outperformed other charter schools.
Eliminating SUNY's charter role means fewer charter school opportunities and lower quality public schools for families, especially in areas of need. Two statewide chartering entities are better than one (see here). There is no valid academic or public policy reason to eliminate SUNY. This is a purely political argument.
Political Rather Than Educational Debate
The SUNY issue dates back to the late 1990's when the Charter Schools Act was first debated in New York. The SUNY Board of Trustees are all appointees of the Governor, subject to approval by the Senate. The Governor also designates the SUNY chairman. By contrast, the Regents are appointed by the Legislature -- meaning the Assembly Majority, which is by far the largest caucus.
It stands to reason that any Governor, regardless of political party, would want the ability to influence chartering under a state charter law. That's why Gov. Pataki insisted that SUNY be given such a role, and that's why Gov. Spitzer rebuffed the Assembly's effort in 2007 to eliminate SUNY chartering. At his meeting today with legislative leaders, Gov. Paterson showed the same unwillingness to tamper with SUNY's chartering role.
The problem the Assembly has with SUNY's role is that it has less influence than it does with the Regents. For example, SUNY has approved some charters that are upsetting some members of the Assembly. The Senate should not be playing along with this dance since it approves SUNY trustees, not the Assembly.
It's Settled Law - Move On
Let's stop arguing policy debates from the last century. The Assembly should drop its 12-year effort to remove SUNY from its charter role, and move on from this power play. There are more important matters, like ensuring another $700 million for New York's fiscal plan.
for The Chalkboard
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