Diane Ravitch: New York Legislature Frees Charter Schools of Regulations and Oversight

by , under Legislative Issues, Local Activism, Professional Issues

Diane Ravitch, Research Professor of Education at New York University and a historian of education, breaks down the recent negotiations of the New York Legislature and what it means for public education.  Her blog, which recently reached 27 million page views, has become a clearing house of information regarding the assault on public education and public school teachers.  This takeover of this essential public service is widely known as the “corporate education reform” movement.

In late night negotiations, rushing to finish the legislative session, the New York Legislature reached a diane_cover-248x300package deal to extend mayoral control by only one year. Part of the package creates a parallel system for charter schools, which can switch authorizers and choose one (either the State University of New York or the Board of Regents) that will give them freedom from any regulations and standards that apply to public schools. In other words, there will be one set of rules for public schools, and no rules for charter schools. This will be the first time in New York state’s history that the Legislature has officially established a publicly-funded dual school system: One sector is subject to democratic control, the other is not. One must accept (or take responsibility for) all students, the other is free to accept and reject whichever students it wants.

A one-year extension, with few or no caveats, had seemed all but cemented when lawmakers went to bed on Thursday evening. But the morning found Mr. Flanagan pushing for the funding transparency requirement, followed by the charter-school provision in the afternoon. It would effectively create a parallel system of charter schools within the city, allowing “high-performing charter schools in good standing” to switch to join the State University of New York umbrella or the Board of Regents of the State Educational Department.

Not since the era preceding the Brown decision of 1954 has a state legislature so brazenly established a two-tier system of K-12 schools.

The leader of the State Senate, John Flanagan, has made no secret of his contempt for Mayor Bill de Blasio. De Blasio helped to raise money for Democrats running for the State Senate; had they won, the State Senate would be controlled by Democrats, not Republicans. Governor Cuomo has stabbed the mayor in the back repeatedly, because he doesn’t like to share the stage with any other prominent Democrat in the state. So, the mayor had a losing hand when he asked for a three-year extension of mayoral control.”

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