"[W]e will end what has become a race to the bottom in our schools and instead, spur a race to the top...I call on states to reform their charter rules, and lift caps on the number of charter schools, wherever such caps are in place."
--U.S. President Barack Obama
to the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (March 10, 2009)
"[The charter cap is] a bogus issue with respect to Race to the Top"
-- N.Y.S.U.T. President Richard Iannuzzi
to the Times Union and Daily Politics weblog (Jan. 7, 2010)
The President of the United States and the President of the New York State United Teachers disagree--in no subtle fashion--about the importance of raising the cap on charter schools as part of the Race to the Top program.
President Obama and his Education Secretary, Arne Duncan, have been bastions of consistency and purpose for the last ten months on spurring education reform at the state level. Their seriousness also has been demonstrated by establishing a non-political scoring rubric and using outside evaluators for all state Race to the Top applications.
States across the country have responded to the Obama administration's reform plans by enacting major changes their education programs to meet the federal Race to the Top criteria. New York is now somewhat belatedly stepping up, first by the Regents approval last month of a comprehensive education reform agenda, then bipartisan Senate legislation since introduced to reflect much of this agenda, and now Governor Paterson's Race to the Top bill unveiled yesterday.
The NYSUT president Richard Iannuzzi, in the face of all this ("Bogus!"), is trying his best imitation of General McAuliffe at the Battle of the Bulge ("Nuts!"); but instead, he comes off as some anachronistic southern governor. Such overreaction by him is unwarranted, to say the least. Up to $700 million in new money is at stake for New York, nearly all of which will go to school districts employing his members.
RttT Funding is Five Times What NYSUT Sued Over
My calculator says that $700 million is nearly five times the amount of aid over which NYSUT sued the Governor for delaying to school districts last month (4.795 times the $146 million in delayed school aid, to be exact). Maximizing New York's chances for getting that new federal funding should be the focus.
Allowing for more charter schools gets school districts up to $700 million - a 'win-win' for public education. This is a good thing. Be happy.
for The Chalkboard
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