The Charter Industry
As your constituent and someone who cares deeply about public education, I urge you to reform New York State's charter industry laws. Specifically, I would ask you to reject any proposals that attempt to lift the cap on charter schools, including "zombie charter" proposals that seek to circumvent the cap on new charter schools through the reissuance of a surrendered, revoked or terminated charter. I also urge you to support the following bills: S.676 (Mayer)/A.5117 (Benedetto), which limits school grade level expansions for charter schools; S.4200 (Hoylman)/A.5135 (Benedetto), which requires transparency and accountability of charter schools; and S.6087-A (Jackson)/A.7379-A (Meeks), which requires charter schools to provide notice to parents if they are given a corrective action plan or short-term renewal by their charter authorizer.
The objective of the New York State Charter Schools Act of 1998 was to "increase learning opportunities for all students, with a special emphasis on expanded learning experiences for students who are at-risk of academic failure." Charter schools continue to under-enroll the very populations they were charged to educate, students with disabilities, English language learners and students in temporary housing.
This month, the SUNY Board of Trustees approved the creation of a new charter high school that will be located in New York City. They did this, despite the cap prohibiting the creation of new charter schools in New York City, by granting a charter revision to an existing charter middle school that currently serves students in grades 6-8.
Until charter management organizations follow the law that established these schools, the state should not support increasing their numbers and should instead focus on increasing enrollment for students who are at-risk and require transparency and accountability of the charter industry.
Many charter management organizations have contracted with private, for-profit firms to manage some or all of the day-to-day operations of their schools. These for-profit firms handle accounting and management responsibilities, including the school's finances and the hiring of employees. However, the services provided by these private for-profit firms cannot be audited under existing law.
Last month, the founder of a national charter chain that operates schools in New York was arrested for allegedly stealing $218,000 from the school. The lack of meaningful financial oversight in New York's charter laws continue to result in instances of profiteering at the expense of students, the public and property taxpayers.
In addition, parents should be provided pertinent information regarding the academic standing of a charter school if it is given a corrective action plan or short-term renewal. Requiring the charter industry to provide notice in these instances will allow parents, members of the community and other educational stakeholders to stay informed and provide input to help increase student learning and success.
Charter schools were created to serve as laboratories for the development, refinement and creation of innovative and effective educational best practices to be shared with public schools. While well intended, charter schools share very little best practices and do not primarily educate our most vulnerable student populations. This current school year, districts will send approximately $3.1 billion to the charter industry. It is time New York reform the charter industry's laws.
Therefore, I urge you to work with your leadership and call upon your conference to reject any proposal that seeks to lift the cap on charter schools, including "zombie charter" proposals that circumvent the cap on new charter schools; support S.676 (Mayer)/A.5117 (Benedetto), which limits school grade level expansions for charter schools; support S.4200 (Hoylman)/A.5135 (Benedetto), which requires transparency and accountability of charter schools; and support S.6087-A (Jackson)/A.7379-A (Meeks), which requires charter schools to provide notice to parents if they are given a corrective action plan or short-term renewal by their charter authorizer.
Thank you for your consideration of this important matter. I look forward to a reply to my e-mail.
Once you have completed your actions, you can choose to do even more: