Thursday, June 23, 2005

charter school politicking -- pataki to lift the cap?

according to the NY Sun, Pataki is currently engaged in an aggressive last-minute push to raise the cap on charter schools in the state from 100 to 200 schools. rumors of his backroom methods for getting what he wants range from carrots ---
Mr. Pataki convinced lawmakers to allow charter schools in New York seven years ago, in exchange for a legislative pay raise. There was some speculation yesterday that another pay hike would be offered in exchange for raising the cap, but aides to the governor said such a deal was not on the table as of late in the day.
to sticks --
But people close to the talks, speaking on condition they would not be identified, said the governor has threatened that unless changes to the charter school law are made, he will veto bills that direct money to upstate school districts, a number of which passed in the Assembly this week.
the legislative session ends this week. i'll keep you posted on any cap movement.

1 comment:

Joe Thomas said...

You didn't ask :) but my main problem with charters is the idea behind them. In Arizona, they were passed to give (private) people a chance to run a school (using tax dollars) without all of the stringent accountability measures.

If the public accountability measures are too stringent, if that is what is getting in the way of educating our kids, let's lessen them for the public schools and see what happens.

What we've seen in Arizona are some successful charter schools and some horribly-run charter schools. Most of the charters are elementary, and most of those that do serve high school kids are deemed "alternative."

This "some great, some bad" pretty much mirrors what we see in our public school systems. We have some great schools, some that struggle, and most somewhere in between.

Our charters have not been without their scandals, however. One charter operator (a state legislator) feels that his charter is really a private business and that he doesn't need to open up his books for audits, even though he receives tax dollars to run his charter school. The problem is, I am told, that he leases the land to the charter school he runs. So, he makes a buck off of the land, then draws a salary. Nice way to educate kids, huh?

Then there's the Heritage Academy of Mesa. It's a charter school that thinks it's a private school. We finally found out why their test scores were always so high.

The idea of small schools set up so that we can test new innovations in education is a good one. I do not understand the need for lessening the accountability, though. No elected board accountable to the public. No full disclosure of the use of public money. Some of them are even for profit.

Is the mission still educating kids? Or is it sometimes just about getting the money?