The editorial is simple and straightforward: adopt a strong agenda for education reform, which includes raising the charter school cap and providing facilities support (it outlines what is the Regents reform agenda); and don't allow the make-believe from the United Federation of Teachers about charter schools water down a strong legislative package. Otherwise, New York's chances for the large award are at high-risk.
The issue is not complicated.
Will Legislature Water Down Race-to-the-Top Agenda?
The less free funding the New York gets from the federal government, the more the state will have to find funding somewhere else - or make deeper education spending cuts.
The pressure from the teachers unions to dilute reform provisions is irresponsible and built on selfishness and myth-making about charters. Examples of this abound, including here and there. The irony of the union's anti-charter efforts, with its pile of absurd mandates, could result in cutting education funding that would benefit their own district membership. Such funding the unions will desperately claw for in late March when the state budget adoption is due.
Not only is the union's behavior anti-climatic and short-sighted for to Race to the Top, but it comes after release of the second major academic study documenting the high academic performance of New York City charter schools. If the Legislature does anything on the merits--and for new money--it should be to expand charters.
The Legislature should avoid rationalizing and cowering to the distortions and greed from the unions, especially when the unions will be no less kind to the Legislature for cutting education due to any failure to maximize federal money now with a strong Race to the Top bill.
Moreover, the Legislature last month just gave a Christmas present to the teachers unions by allowing an earlier retirement age in the new Tier V retirement system, along with a 30-day enrollment loophole for Tier IV, which the unions happily exploited. Teachers in the new system can retire at 57 with full benefits, compared to 62 for all other Tier V public employees. The Legislature should not give into further pressure this month especially since the cost will be more immediate.
Follow Your Own Appointees: the Regents
The state Regents are appointed by the Legislature, not Gov. Paterson, with whom they often clash. They should follow the Regents advice (and Governor's bill) on charters and other reform issues, and take no chances on Race to the Top. Just because the teacher unions want to be reckless doesn't mean the Legislature should follow suit.
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.