Saturday's New York Post provides an op-ed by state Education Commissioner, David Steiner, which discusses the state's application for federal Race to the Top funding. Steiner describes the application's plan to improve teacher training, strengthen curriculum standards and assessments, data collection and other important initiatives designed to improve student outcomes. He also acknowledges the Race to the Top as a "fierce competition among the states that will award funds only to those that are willing to make bold changes."
Commissioner Steiner and the Regents were as bold as they could be in the weeks leading up to the January 19th application deadline. Unfortunately, the legislature was not in a "bold" mood and refused to enact any of the statutory reform proposals Steiner and Regents advocated - the charter cap lift being one of them. Today's New York Times discusses several factors behind the legislature's unwillingness to raise the charter cap, including the opposition to charters sharing space with district schools.
The Commissioner remains committed to working toward raising the cap, which will be critical if New York fails to obtain a Race to the Top grant in this first application round.
Mr. Steiner also mentioned wanting to "render [charter school] operations transparent and accountable." Sure, codifying current administrative requirements for charter schools makes sense, which the Governor proposed in his bill to raise the cap. But, charter schools do not exactly operate akin to the CIA.
RttT Application Describes Existing Charter Accountability & Transparency
In fact, New York's RttT application already claims: "There are numerous provisions in [the Charter School law] relating to accountability." The application goes on to discuss the required charter school Annual Report, School Report Card, and annual programmatic and fiscal audits, among other existing transparency and accountability mandates.
The state's RttT application also describes New York having a "rigorous approval, monitoring and reauthorization process." It also quotes the Charter School Monitoring Report by WestEd on New York's charter practices and found: "Oversight of charter schools for both program compliance and performance is exceptionally comprehensive, rigorous, and persistent;" and which "helps drive the creation of high-quality charter schools in the State."
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