Once and for All, Eliminate New York's Charter School Cap
The evidence is overwhelming that these schools serve kids and families
New York City is again approaching the cap imposed by Albany on charter schools; after some new approvals are announced, only about two dozen slots will be available for new charters.
The statewide cap, established with the original charter law in 1998, splits the number of charters evenly between the city and the rest of the state. The cap, raised in 2007 and 2010, was adjusted in 2015 to give unused charter slots to the city, but it’s time to end this semi-annual ritual and scrap the cap once and for all.
New York isn’t like states where charters are distributed like candy and weak oversight has led to poor performance, mismanagement and even corruption. New York’s two charter authorizers, SUNY and the Board of Regents, take their jobs seriously. (The city’s Department of Education formerly authorized charters but no longer does.) As long as the state’s authorizers continue to pay close attention to charter quality, there’s no need to artificially restrict charter quantity.
SUNY and the Regents employ a rigorous approval process, including a peer-review application, interviews, and site visits. Applicants must demonstrate community need and engagement. At SUNY, only 18% of first-time applicants have been awarded charters since 1999. That figure is 34% for second-time applicants and charters with proven track records seeking to replicate. Regents’ approval rate, similarly low, “has historically hovered around 20%,” notes David Frank, executive director of the Regents’ charter school office.
Once a charter is approved....
This piece originally appeared in New York Daily News