long to reach that conversion charter "cap"
The New York State Education Department released its federal Race to the Top application today. In the charter school discussion, this factoid read surreal to me:
"[t]he total number of charter schools that currently may form in New York are 4,540 conversion schools plus 200 non-conversion charter schools, or 4,740. This represents approximately 104 percent of the total schools in the state that are allowed to be charter schools."
Whew! Feel better now? Who needs a cap lift? Hey, we can do 4,500 more charters! Sure glad the Department put its best foot forward to the Feds!
This will not impress Washington. The problem with this description of the charter cap is that it is a legalistic absurdity based on the existing provision that places no cap on the number of charter schools that are converted from district schools. As a practical matter, this conversion discussion should have been reduced to a theoretical footnote.
As to the real charter cap, the application also makes the preposterous claim that even though state Education law includes one, "such a cap does not prohibit or effectively limit the number of high-performing charter schools in the state" (p. 223). Does State Ed. expect anyone to belief this? Why include this sentence?
Charter Conversions A Rarity
Consider this: in the first eleven years of chartering in New York, exactly nine district schools converted to a charter school. Today, only six remain (one charter was revoked; two others converted back to district schools).
At this pace, it would take more than 5,500 years (5,548 and 11 months, to be exact) for the remaining district public schools to convert to charters -- a longer period than since the time Joseph wore his technicolor dreamcoat in the land of Canaan.
Looking ahead five and one-half millennia from now, not even James Cameron could come up with a film set for December 7558 -- way passed the Star Trek era.
Legislature Provided Nothing for SED Application
To be fair to the state Education Department, the Commissioner and Regents, along with Gov. Paterson, advocated a genuine increase in the cap on new (non-conversion) charter schools, which required approval by the state legislature. The legislature refused. That left the state's Race to the Top application to discuss the status quo on charters, including this laughable legalism about conversion charters.
New York's Race to the Top application makes the best of a stalemated situation regarding charter schools. That's all it could do.
for The Chalkboard
(see me Twitter @ "PeterMurphy26")
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