New York Charter Schools Threatened
I’ve just attended a rally in support of New York’s Charter Schools. The event spurring the rally was a “hearing” by New York State Senator Bill Perkins the name of which seems noble enough: Public Hearing: Is our Democratic vision of public education being fulfilled? A decade later: A look at the growing charter school industry. Unfortunately this seemingly neutral hearing is undermined by Perkins’ actual position. He’s already introduced legislation to limit charter schools and is an ally of (and recipient of campaign donations from) the New York branch of the UFT. His legislation would place New York even lower in meeting the funding criteria in Race to the Top, the federal school reform initiative.
If you’re new to the charter school debate here are three things to keep in mind:
There’s actually an aspect to Perkins own education that mystified many parents in the crowd. While Perkins waves the “democracy” banner, he’s actually the product of a full-ride merit scholarship to Collegiate. As someone who benefitted so dramatically from school choice in its least scalable form, how can he oppose expanding options to so many working families? Is it that he has calculated that he can get more votes from the teachers union and disappointed parents on the losing end of the charter school lotteries? Sounds cynical but some of the actions of the charter school opponents are so egregious that I wouldn’t be surprised.
I’ll be writing more on this over time. Like others I see an intrinsic and practical connection between the New York tech community and the education innovation/charter school communities. Further, as a parent in Harlem (we just moved into Perkins’ district), any attempt to limit my kids’ educational options is one that strikes particularly close to home. I actually wrote Senator Perkins earlier this week and to his credit he quite politely and promptly responded. I hope that he remains open to voices of his constituents who want choice.
Want to learn more/get involved? Here are some quick links:
- Whitney Tilson’s School Reform Blog – Whitney was one of the founders of Teach for America and has continued to lead efforts to reform schools. You can read up on his coverage of Senator Perkins here and a pdf of his comprehensive presentation on the need for school reform is here
- Democrats for Education Reform
- New York City Charter School Center