Governor David Paterson is holding firm to only approve legislation that would strengthen the state's competitiveness for the Race to the Top application - and every point matters is the message we continue to hear from spokespersons at the U.S. Department of Education (e.g., here).
Speaker of the state Assembly, Sheldon Silver, continues to promote a number of, yes, "poison pills" (as the Governor described) being pushed by the teacher unions, including eliminating SUNY and imposing local charter caps disguised as a top-down, bureaucratically-driven "RFP" process -- a disguise that will impress no one who supports charters, including the Obama administration. More importantly, an RFP chartering process would put an effective end to more charter schools and would cause federal Race to the Top points to fall off like autumn leaves.
It's one thing to discuss improving the charter school law; it's something else entirely to consider effectively scrapping it.
The teacher unions this month have turned up the pressure by exploiting Race to the Top to squash any improvement in the state's charter law and pretty much every other education reform advanced by the Regents. Yet, NYSUT president Richard Iannuzzi somehow managed to blame charter school advocates for this unsettled legislative mess three days before the Race to the Top application deadline.
Charter Advocates 'Hostage' Takers! Who Knew?
Charter school advocates, according to Mr. Iannuzzi, are "holding the state hostage" by using Race to the Top to advance their goals [!], he told the Times. Huh? In fact, it is President Obama and his federal Department of Education, along with the New York Regents and the Governor, that determined that expanding charter school opportunities was a necessary reform to win new education funding.
Well, pardon us--the charter advocates--for agreeing.
Of course, NYSUT would never think to use any issue to advance its interests -- except it's doing just that like it always does. Mr. Iannuzzi's words ("holding hostage"), in fact, reveal his organization's standard operating procedure in the Albany statehouse: with charter schools on the negotiating table, NYSUT is working hard to put a stop to them and other issues important for Race to the Top -- even if it means New York forfeiting hundreds of millions of education dollars.
for The Chalkboard
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