Big-time in this Building
The Albany Common Council, made up of 16 members, met last Monday evening to consider a resolution introduced by Councilwoman Cathy Fahey to call on the state legislature to impose a local limit on charter school enrollment in the city.
This resolution, filled with misinformation and bogus data provided directly by the Albany City School District, is another example of how citizens should never assume their elected officials take their actions based on accurate information. Often they don't.
Anti-Progressive Resolution about Protecting the System
This resolution was all about protecting the school district. It had nothing to do with children and their needs. It had nothing to do with parental demand; nor about the quality of education in the district or charter schools. The Common Council is loaded with self-proclaiming "progressives" who were poised to approve of this anti-progressive measure: protecting a school district establishment. This school district's failures have been felt particularly among low-income and minority families who have sought refuge and opportunity in charter schools.
None of that mattered to Cathy Fahey and the Common Council - until Monday evening.
Albany Charters Speak Out
The Albany charter school community, which now educates nearly one-quarter of Albany's public school students, rallied against this resolution. Charter school parents, grandparents (including County Legislator, Wanda Willingham), and school leaders packed the Common Council meeting and spoke out against the resolution. Other residents, mostly from the Albany's more suburban-like areas, spoke in favor of the resolution to stop charter expansion.
After about four hours of public comment and member debate, the Council appeared split on the resolution. It was pulled from the floor and debate was ended. Clearly, Ms. Fahey, the Times Union reported (here), did not want to risk defeat or a bare majority approval, which would have sent a "mixed message to state Legislature."
The tabling of this anti-charter school resolution is a victory for charter schools in Albany. Their academic success and opportunities they represent for so many of the City's families was such that enough members of the Common Council did not want to be on record against them.
Councilwoman Fahey has not given up and she may resubmit her resolution. She is misdirected, to say the least. Instead, her focus and that of her colleagues on the Council ought to question why the school district kept increasing non-charter related expenses and remains the same size with the same number of employees during a period when when 25 of the students fled. The district is the taxpayer money pit that has much to answer.
for The Chalkboard
(see me Twitter @ PeterMurphy26)
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