In an effort to get the much-needed funds for schools in the Race to the Top (RTTT) competition, lawmakers have raised the cap on the number of charter schools in the state to 460 from 200.
This measure, in conjunction with a teacher evaluation system authorized earlier in the week and funding for long-term assessment of student achievement, will help ensure that New York State receives maximum RTTT funding.
Previously, New York came in 13th place in the last round of the RTTT competition. Reviewers claimed that the cap on charter schools in the state and several other issues were reasons to not give New York State the money.
“I am extremely pleased that an agreement has been reached to lift the cap on charter schools and am confident that this legislation will greatly increase our competitiveness in the second round of Race to the Top,” said Gov. David Paterson. “Agreement on this measure signals recognition by all of our state’s leaders that for the sake of our children, our schools and our economy, we cannot afford to let these critical education dollars slip away.”
The governor also thanked Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Senate Conference Leader John Sampson and Mayor Michael Bloomberg for acknowledging the importance of passing the legislation. He also said he wants to work with the State Department of Education to create a competitive application that will secure the much-needed $700 million for schools.
“These sweeping reforms will help put an end to divisive fighting over school space and give a meaningful voice in the process to traditional public school parents,” said Silver. “The legislation also increases transparency by giving the state comptroller auditing power over charter schools, while ensuring that they enroll and retain children with special needs. This measure will undoubtedly encourage the creation of more successful charter schools in New York State.”
Assemblywoman and Education Committee Chair Catherine Nolan added that the bill would bring New York closer to winning the money.
She said, “This bill will allow New York State to submit a competitive application for federal Race to the Top funding and increase our chances at receiving up to $700 million for our schools.”
The legislation creates a new request for proposals for the creation of 260 new charter schools. The new system favors applications that best respond to certain RTTT objectives, such as increasing high school graduation rates and addressing student achievement gaps in reading/language arts and mathematics.
Requests for proposals for new charter schools would be issued by the Board of Regents and SUNY trustees after undergoing a public review process.
“Nothing is more important than investing in our children and our future by improving our score for Race to the Top,” said Sampson. “Raising the charter cap, reforming charter schools, improving teacher evaluation and investing in tracking educational outcomes will give New York the points we need to win.”