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THE CHARTER SCHOOL DEBATE FULL OF SOUND AND FURY, BUT WHAT DOES IT SIGNIFY?

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Title: THE CHARTER SCHOOL DEBATE FULL OF SOUND AND FURY, BUT WHAT DOES IT SIGNIFY?


1
THE CHARTER SCHOOL DEBATE FULL OF SOUND AND
FURY, BUT WHAT DOES IT SIGNIFY?
  • Consensus
  • Fall, 2006

2
WHY CONDUCT A CONSENSUS ON CHARTER SCHOOLS?
  • League has no position on charter schools.
  • League opposed S7877, which as amended became the
    Charter School Act of 1998.
  • Without an independent finance mechanism for
    charters, it would mean less money available for
    all public school students.
  • Inadequate separation of church and state.
  • Inadequate provision for disabled students.
  • Objections were largely resolved in final bill,
    leaving the League without a position.

3
WHAT ARE CHARTER SCHOOLS?
  • Public schools
  • Self governing
  • Freedom from certain rules in return for greater
    accountability
  • No virtual charter schools
  • No private school conversions
  • Secular
  • Comply with Open Meetings Law and Freedom of
    Information Law

4
WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF CHARTER SCHOOLS?
  • To improve learning and achievement.
  • To increase learning opportunities particularly
    for at-risk students.
  • To encourage innovation.
  • To offer school choice.
  • To provide schools with opportunity to change
    from rule-based accountability to
    performance-based accountability.

5
HOW ARE CHARTER SCHOOLS CREATED?
  • Application of organization or group (other than
    private school or for-profit corporation.
  • Apply to SUNY (50), Board of Regents or local
    board of education or Chancellor (50)
  • Granted if comply with CSA and likelihood can
    meet or exceed NYS student performance standards.
  • Traditional public school may convert upon vote
    of Board of Education and majority of parents of
    students attending. (No cap on conversions.)

6
WHO MAY ATTEND A CHARTER SCHOOL?
  • Anyone may apply.
  • Lottery are if the number of applicants is
    greater than spaces available.
  • A charter school must be nonsectarian,
    non-discriminatory and cannot charge tuition.
  • Enrolled students may withdraw at any time and
    return to district schools.

7
WHO MAY TEACH AT A CHARTER SCHOOL?
  • Generally, teachers must be certified.
  • Lesser of 5 teachers or 30 need not be
    certified, provided they have at least three
    years of teaching experience, are members of a
    college faculty, or have other specialized
    experience.

8
ARE TEACHERS MEMBERS OF UNIONS AND SUBJECT TO
CONTRACTS?
  • Generally not unionized and no contract.
  • May unionize.
  • Public school conversions and certain larger
    charter schools remain members of collective
    bargaining units and subject to collective
    bargaining agreements.

9
HOW ARE CHARTER SCHOOLS FUNDED?
  • The district of residence pays the per pupil
    approved operating expense.
  • Students attending charters are also eligible for
    the same aids that private school students
    receive, including textbooks, library materials,
    computer software, and health services from the
    school district of residence.
  • If charter provides services to disabled student,
    the district of residence transfers the state and
    federal special education funds attributable to
    that student to the charter.
  • Charter schools are eligible to receive both
    state and federal grants for planning and
    facilities planning and creation.
  • Private grants and donations.
  • Some charters spend more per student than others.

10
SUPERVISION AND OVERSIGHT
  • By chartering agency.
  • Charters file annual reports and audits.
  • Chartering agency conducts site visits, to gauge
    contractual compliance (the schools compliance
    with the terms of its charter).
  • SED is responsible for regulatory compliance
    (compliance with applicable state and federal
    laws and regulations, such as laws for provision
    of services to students with disabilities).

11
Revocation for Academic Failure
  • If the schools outcome on student assessment
    measures adopted by the Board of Regents falls
    below the level that would allow the commissioner
    to revoke the registration of another public
    school, and student achievement on such measures
    has not shown improvement over the preceding
    three school years

12
Failure to Renew forAcademic Reasons
  • No clear standards.
  • Both SUNY and the Regents purport to apply
    achievement standards in the decision to renew a
    charter. These standards are not written and
    have been overruled by political considerations.

13
Challenges for Charters
  • Limited grants for start-up and facilities.
    Otherwise, must pay out of operating costs
  • Limited time between grant of charter and opening
  • For-profit EMOs take a portion of operating
    expenses

14
Challenges for Traditional Public Schools
  • Transfer of funds to charters without ability to
    reduce costs proportionately
  • Educators of last resort

15
Conflicting Public Policies
  • Charters function as independent school districts
  • SED encourages amalgamation of small districts by
    making consolidation monies available

16
CHARTERS IN NEW YORK
  • New York State has approximately 4,000 public
    schools, serving 2.8 million students. Over 1,000
    schools and 1 million students are in New York
    City.
  • Anticipate 100 charter schools will account for
    approximately 2.5 of the statewide public school
    student body, or 70,000 students.

17
2004-2005 School Year
  • 61 charters with 18, 408 students.
  • 16 chartered by Board of Regents, 32 were
    chartered by the Board of Trustees of the State
    University of New York (SUNY), 11 were chartered
    by the Chancellor of the New York City Public
    Schools and 2 were chartered by the Buffalo City
    School District.
  • Size 88 to 1105 students.
  • 21, or approximately one-third, were operated by
    EMOs.

18
2004-2005 School YearWho Attended Charters?
  • 5/6 of charter students in elementary schools
  • Over 2/3 charter students black approximately
    1/6 were Hispanic under 1/6 were white
  • 358 students (1.9) with limited English
    proficiency
  • 1,502 students with disabilities, representing 9
    of the children enrolled in charter schools. 63
    of the students at charters received Free or
    Reduced Price Lunch (FRPL)
  • During the 2004-05 school year 1,445 or 7.8 of
    charter students, transferred out of charter
    schools

19
Where are Charter Schools
  • Home District Number of Charters of District
    Budget
  • 6/26/2005 2004 - 2005
  • Buffalo 14 7.77
  • Lackawanna 1 8.25
  • Niagara-Wheatfield 1
  • Rochester 4 4.06
  • Syracuse 2 3.18
  • Albany 8 10.15
  • Schenectady 1 3.64
  • Troy 1 2.07
  • Yonkers 1
  • NYC 57 0.30
  • Wainscott 1 3.03
  • Riverhead 1
  • Roosevelt 1 4.52
  • Shelter Island 0 3.27
  • Sagaponack 0 3.17

20
Racial Mix
  • The 2003 Regents Five Year Report to the Governor
    and Legislature on charter schools indicated that
    85 of students in charter schools were
    minorities, compared to 45.5 in all New York
    State public schools
  • In New York City 96 of students in charters were
    minorities, compared to 87.1 in all New York
    City public schools.

21
Economically Disadvantaged Students
  • The 2003 Regents Five Year Report to the Governor
    and Legislature on charter schools indicated that
    74 of students in charter schools qualified for
    free or reduced price lunch, compared to 50.6 in
    all New York State public schools
  • In New York City, 82 of both charter and public
    school students qualified
  • The 2004-05 Annual Report indicated 63 of
    students in charter schools qualified for free or
    reduced price lunch

22
Disabled Students
  • A 2003 report on charter schools indicates that
    New York charters educate a smaller percentage of
    disabled students than traditional public schools
  • More severely disabled students are returned to
    their home schools

23
Teacher Innovation and Autonomy
  • Charter school theory touts freedom of teachers
    from educational bureaucracies as giving talented
    teachers autonomy to engage in innovative
    educational practices
  • No New York State data
  • Nationally, studies indicate that teacher
    satisfaction varies tremendously from school to
    school. Factors that increase satisfaction
    include small school size, school-based decision
    making, clear administrative vision without
    micromanaging, professional development
    opportunities tied to the schools mission, a
    core of experienced teachers at the school, job
    security for teachers and staff, and absence of
    high teacher turnover.
  • California study indicated charter teachers
    valued membership in larger professional
    organizations such as unions and missed this in
    charter schools.

24
Teacher Quality
  • No New York State data
  • Nationally
  • More likely to have attended selective colleges
  • Less likely to be certified
  • Math teachers are less likely than public school
    teachers to have subject matter training or
    knowledge, as measured by a college major or
    minor in math or passage of a math subject matter
    test
  • Twice as likely as traditional public school
    teachers to have five years or less teaching
    experience, with one-half to two-thirds of
    charter teachers having five years or less
    experience

25
Achievement in Charters
  • Nationally, there is no consensus about whether
    charters do a better job
  • Hoxby charters do a significantly better job
  • AFT and 2003 NAEP data when student data is
    disaggregated by race, ethnicity and special
    needs, public schools do at least as good a job
    of educating students as charters and private
    schools

26
Achievement in Charters
  • New York State
  • Hoxby found no significant difference in
    achievement in New York State
  • No other New York studies found
  • Some charters very successful
  • Some terrible failures
  • Too early because many charters have no history
    of standardized tests
  • New York State has not collected data required by
    Charter School Act

27
Does Achievement Matter
  • Advocates argue that annual achievement in
    charters is less important than in public schools
    because
  • charters are responsive to parents, who may
    remove their children, and
  • Charters are responsive to chartering agencies,
    which may revoke or fail to renew charters.

28
How to Assess Academic Success
  • Disaggregate data by race/ethnicity and special
    need
  • Longitudinal collection of data
  • Compare value added in a charter to that added in
    the home school

29
Top Charters 4th Grade ELA
  • Harlem Day Charter School, New York City 100.0
  • Renaissance Charter School, New York City 95.7
  • ?Roosevelt Childrens Academy Charter School,
    Roosevelt 87.3
  • Carl C. Icahn Charter School, New York City
    86.2
  • ?Genesee Community Charter School, Rochester
    83.8.

30
Worst Charters 4th Grade ELA
  • Pinnacle Charter School, Buffalo (baseline year)
    18.4
  • Stepping Stone Academy Charter School, Buffalo
    20.4
  • Brooklyn Excelsior Charter School, New York City
    29.9
  • COMMUNITY Charter School, Buffalo 32.5
  • Charter School of Science and Technology,
    Rochester 33.9.

31
Top Charters 4th Grade Math
  • Carl C. Icahn Charter School, New York City
    100.0
  • International Charter School of Schenectady,
    Schenectady, 100.0
  • Tapestry Charter School, Buffalo 100.0
  • Our World Neighborhood Charter School, New York
    City 95.8
  • Harlem Day Charter School, New York City 94.4
  • Renaissance Charter School, New York City 92.0
  • Roosevelt Childrens Academy Charter School,
    Roosevelt 91.8
  • Genesee Community Charter School, Rochester,
    90.7.

32
Worst Charters 4th Grade Math
  • Stepping Stone Academy Charter School, Buffalo
    33.9.

33
Top Charters 8th Grade ELA
  • KIPP Academy Charter School, New York City 71.5.

34
Worst Charters 8th Grade ELA
  • John V. Lindsay Wildcat Academy Charter School,
    New York City 8.3
  • Buffalo Academy of Science Charter School,
    Buffalo 13.6
  • Enterprise Charter School, Buffalo 16.3
  • Stepping Stone Academy Charter School, Buffalo
    20.0
  • Charter School for Applied Technologies,
    Kenmore-Tonawanda 27.3.

35
Other Measures of Achievement
  • Performance on student outcome indicators such as
    attendance, discipline, graduation
  • Student and parental satisfaction
  • Post-school outcomes
  • Teacher satisfaction and development of teacher
    expertise
  • The effect of charters on equity across
    demographic groups.

36
THE HEALTH OF CHARTER SCHOOLS
  • Nationally, Amy Stuart Wells indicates the
    movement slowing
  • New York.
  • Demand still strong. CSA relatively new and
    market not yet mature or saturated
  • Per capita funding for charter education makes
    New York relatively attractive for proprietary
    EMOs.
  • One-quarter fail

37
THE INTERACTION BETWEEN CHARTERS AND TRADITIONAL
PUBLIC SCHOOLS
  • National studies indicate traditional public
    schools have not changed operations in response
    to competition
  • Split in New York State between New York City and
    up-state in how school districts view and relate
    to charter schools, with the City being more
    receptive to charters

38
WHITHER GOEST THE EXPERIMENT - A DISCUSSION OF
CHARTERS IN THE LARGER CONTEXT OF EDUCATION
THEORY For every important social problem there
is a simple answer that is wrong. Henry Menken
  • In Questions You Should Ask About Charter
    Schools and Vouchers, Seymour Sarason, professor
    emeritus of Yales Department of Psychology, and
    education doyen, places the charter debate in the
    larger context of what is wrong with education in
    America. The book is valuable for its discussion
    of the extent to which the charter movement does
    and does not address these shortcomings.

39
Sarason Suggestions
  • Experiment with a limited number of pilots
  • Increase the time between charter approval and
    opening. Amend funding mechanisms so that
    traditional public schools do not lose money when
    charters open
  • Amend funding mechanisms so that funds available
    to charters mirror funding available to
    traditional public schools
  • Adopt and fund adequate measures of evaluation
  • Create mechanisms to share successes and failures
    of the charter movement with other charters and
    traditional public schools.

40
II.A SHOULD AUTHORITY OF AGENCIES (other than the
home school district) TO GRANT, TO OVERSEE, TO
RENEW, AND TO REVOKE CHARTERS BE LIMITED TO A
SINGLE ENTITY?
  • The authority to grant, oversee operations,
    renew and revoke charters is vested in both the
    Board of Regents (SED) and SUNY.
  • They employ different standards in the grant,
    oversight, renewal, and revocation of charters.
    They also have different reporting requirements.

41
PRO
  • To the extent one wishes to evaluate the success
    of charter schools, enable both charters and
    public schools to benefit from successful models,
    and require that unsuccessful models are closed
    or do not receive charters in the future, one
    agency should perform the chartering and
    oversight function.
  • Expense of maintaining two bureaucracies
    performing the same function.
  • With the new governor, the political
    considerations that resulted in bifurcated
    authority may no longer exist or may be removed
    over time.

42
CON
  • Bifurcated authority was the result of a
    political negotiation. The Regents tend to be
    more Democratic and anti-charter and SUNY more
    Republican and pro-charter. With the Republicans
    in control of the Senate, the political
    considerations are unlikely to change in the near
    future.

43
II.B SHOULD THE LEAGUE ADVOCATE FOR MORE
STRINGENT OVERSIGHT OF CHARTER COMPLIANCE IN THE
RENEWAL / REVOCATION OF CHARTERS?
  • The charter constitutes a five-year contract
    between the school and chartering agency, in
    which the school describes its educational
    program and outcomes for which it will be held
    responsible. Nationally, few charter schools
    have been closed for academic reasons. Most have
    been closed for financial problems.

44
PRO
  • Because charters are relieved of certain
    regulatory requirements in return for the
    promises of academic achievement, innovation, and
    increased job satisfaction, they should be held
    strictly accountable for achievement of their
    missions, and the CSA should be amended to hold
    charters strictly accountable.
  • Because charter schools operate without elected
    Boards of Education they ought to have very
    strong objective compliance requirements.
  • Because charter schools represent experimental
    innovations in education, directly opposed to
    SEDs policy of district consolidation, only
    those charters that achieve their stated missions
    should enjoy a continued existence.

45
CON
  • The CSA provides for adequate oversight with
    annual visits and reports.
  • Some authors are critical of the level of
    oversight to which charters are subjected in New
    York State, arguing that charters receive greater
    oversight than underperforming traditional public
    schools, although this oversight appears to be
    flexible and designed to avert failure.
  • Enhanced oversight costs money, and the CSA has
    never contained sufficient funds for adequate
    oversight.
  • The market will close unsuccessful charters as
    parents withdraw their children from failing
    charters.
  • Parents and students have the right to choice,
    even without increased achievement.

46
II.C SHOULD THE LEAGUE SUPPORT GREATER EMPHASIS
ON POSITIVE EDUCATIONAL OUTCOMES IN THE RENEWAL
OF CHARTERS?
47
PRO
  • One purpose of charter schools is to grant
    autonomy in return for increased academic
    performance. If charters are not held to
    increased standards of educational performance,
    one rational for their existence no longer
    exists.
  • Another rationale for the creation of charter
    schools is to give educators freedom to explore
    innovative and locally developed education
    strategies. Without meaningful evaluation, there
    is no way to know whether an innovation is
    successful and to weed out bad experiments.
  • Another rationale of charters is to discover new
    ways to educate at-risk students, with the idea
    of sharing successful strategies with traditional
    public schools. If one never determines the
    success of a strategy, no cross-fertilization can
    occur.
  • There is a cost to the creation of charters, both
    in terms of money lost by the home district and
    disruption to childrens educations. If the cost
    is not justified by increased student
    performance, then a major rationale for charters
    ceases to exist.
  • The market is an imperfect vehicle with which to
    drive school choice. Parents and students are
    unable to gauge the success of charters by
    reviewing school report cards because the charter
    may not have a demographically similar district
    school for comparison purposes.

48
CON
  • The market of student and parental choice is
    sufficient to close unsuccessful charters. If a
    charter is unsuccessful, students will not
    attend.
  • Proponents of charter schools say that a school
    may be positive and yet be short of high test
    results.
  • Four years (the time at which charters seek
    renewal) is an insufficient period of time in
    which to create a school, iron out bugs and
    fine-tune academic performance.
  • Many enrichment qualities, such as creativity,
    attitude, motivation, conflict resolution, cannot
    be measured.

49
II.D SHOULD THE LEAGUE SUPPORT EDUCATIONAL
ACHIEVEMENT EQUAL TO OR BETTER THAN THOSE OF
COMPARABLE DISTRICT SCHOOLS AS A PRECONDITION FOR
CHARTER RENEWAL
  • PRO
  • Charter schools, in return for the promise to
    provide a quality education, have been given
    freedom from many restrictions existing in other
    public schools, allowing them to use innovative
    methods to improve learning. Therefore test
    results should equal or surpass those in district
    schools.

50
CON
  • Cost of compliance. Meaningful comparison
    between charters and comparable district schools
    is an expensive process, which requires
    sophisticated data analysis by trained
    specialists. The CSA does not contain funding
    for this type of analysis.

51
III.A SHOULD THE LEAGUE SUPPORT LIMITING THE
FINANCIAL IMPACT OF CHARTER SCHOOLS ON THEIR HOME
DISTRICTS?
  • The current system is based on the belief that
    the state and local districts give money to each
    child, which he or she takes to the public school
    of choice.

52
PRO
  • Those districts that have seen the greatest
    percentage decline in funding as the result of
    the charter movement have been required to cut
    programs for children remaining in the district,
    making it even harder for such districts to meet
    the Regents standards.

53
CON
  • New York State currently is among the top
    spenders for K-12 education in this country. To
    limit the financial impact of charters on their
    home districts would only increase the cost of
    education.
  • When a student leaves the district to go to a
    charter school, the district no longer has the
    responsibility to educate that student.
    Districts should reduce their expenses
    accordingly.
  • Taxpaying parents should be free to choose the
    schools that they believe would be best for their
    children.

54
III.B SHOULD THE LEAGUE SUPPORT A DEDICATED
STATEWIDE FUNDING STREAM?
  • PRO
  • See Pro arguments in III.A.
  • The school district of a students residence
    pays the per pupil approved operating expense to
    the Charter School in 6 installments, beginning
    July 1 and every 2 months thereafter. Because,
    in the first year of operation, payments are made
    on the basis of initial-year enrollment
    projections for the Charter, with subsequent
    reconciliation, it is very difficult for a
    district to prepare a budget and implement
    economies when it is unsure whether the charters
    enrollment will reach projected figures. A
    dedicated funding stream would resolve this
    problem.

55
CON
  • See Con arguments in III.A.
  • Opponents of such a funding stream say that the
    money would have to come from additional taxes,
    or at the expense of some other budget items.
  • A dedicated funding stream would discourage
    districts from implementing efficiencies of scale
    as they lose students to charters.

56
III.C SHOULD THE LEAGUE SUPPORT A DEDICATED
FUNDING STREAM FOR STUDENTS ATTENDING CHARTER
SCHOOLS WHO PREVIOUSLY ATTENDED PRIVATE OR
PAROCHIAL SCHOOLS, OR WERE HOME-SCHOOLED?
  • Some students from private schools and some from
    parochial schools are attending charter schools.
    District funds currently follow these children to
    charter schools, even though the district
    previously received no state or local operating
    funds for their educations. Previous national
    research indicated up to 30 of children
    attending charters had not been previously
    enrolled in the public system. Although the
    numbers in New York State do not appear to be
    this high, it is clear that some children
    currently enrolled in charters were not
    previously attending public schools.

57
PRO
  • The entry of additional students into public
    schools creates additional expenses for
    districts, without an infusion of additional
    funds. It further complicates their yearly
    financial planning, which must be completed
    before attendance figures at charter schools are
    known.

58
CON
  • Parents of students in private and parochial
    schools are taxpayers, and their children have
    the right to attend public schools.

59
III.D SHOULD THE LEAGUE SUPPORT TRANSITION
ASSISTANCE?
  • Would lessen the financial impact of charters on
    their home districts by making payments to the
    districts for a period of time, usually five
    years or less, after a student moves to a
    charter.
  • A number of bills have been introduced that would
    provide transition assistance. They vary in how
    they are structured. One approach is to provide
    assistance once charter enrollment reaches 5 of
    a districts population. Another would make
    assistance available to all districts that lost
    money to charters. Most bills would decrease the
    amount of transition assistance on an annual
    basis, so that it would phase out in no more than
    five years.
  • The State Education Department recommends
    amendment of the CSA so that transition
    assistance would be provided once the number of
    students in charter schools reaches a certain
    percentage of the districts population.

60
PRO
  • When a new charter school opens, its district
    continues to carry many expenses unaltered by the
    departure of students. Transition assistance
    would give districts time to plan for the
    increased expenses engendered by charters in a
    thoughtful fashion, thereby avoiding the need to
    cut program for students remaining in traditional
    public schools.

61
CON
  • Expense

62
III.E SHOULD THE LEAGUE SUPPORT HOME DISTRICT
PAYMENT TO CHARTERS BASED ON THE SAME STANDARD
USED TO PAY OPERATING AID TO SCHOOL DISTRICTS?
  • Traditional public schools receive State
    Operating Aid based on average daily attendance,
    while charter schools receive payment from home
    districts based on enrollment. Enrollment is
    always greater than average daily attendance.

63
PRO
  • A yes answer would mean that both charters and
    traditional schools would be reimbursed according
    to the same standard.

64
CON
  • Charter school operators need to plan according
    to numbers of enrolled students. Unless
    districts were reimbursed according to students
    enrolled, the change would create a hardship for
    charters.

65
III.F SHOULD CHARTER SCHOOLS BE ELIGIBLE FOR
CAPITAL CONSTRUCTION AND RENOVATION SERVICES AND
REIMBURSEMENT OF CAPITAL EXPENDITURES?
  • Traditional public schools receive partial
    reimbursement for building costs of capital
    construction and renovation services.
  • Charters must rely on limited grants, donations,
    and, in some cases, reduced rents in New York
    City schools.

66
PRO
  • Seymour Sarason, professor emeritus of Yale and
    proponent of charters as a limited educational
    experiment, points out that the potential benefit
    of charters is to demonstrate educational
    strategies and innovations that are efficacious
    for similar (often at-risk) populations. The
    purpose is not whether such innovation can occur
    on the cheap but whether it can improve outcomes.
    To measure the validity of this thesis, the
    financial playing field should be level for both
    charters and traditional public schools.

67
CON
  • This proposal represents a risky investment in
    experimental education technology, with no
    guarantee that charters will survive for the life
    of their buildings. The evidence to date on
    charter survival in New York State indicates that
    as many as 25 of charters will not survive past
    the first renewal process. A more reasonable way
    to meet the demand for facilities would be to
    require districts to recycle space in district
    schools for charter schools. If funding is
    provided, it should not be made available until a
    charter has a track record of fiscal stability
    and educational achievement (at the time of
    charter renewal).

68
III.G SHOULD THE LEAGUE SUPPORT SEPARATE LEVELS
OF REIMBURSMENT FOR ELEMENTARY AND SECONDARY
EDUCATION TO CHARTER SCHOOLS BASED ON WHAT THE
HOME DISTRICT SPENDS FOR THE LEVEL OF SCHOOLING
PROVIDED?
  • In general, districts spend more to educate
    secondary students than they do to educate
    elementary students. Yet charter schools receive
    the average district operating expense regardless
    of the grade level educated. The New York State
    School Boards Association (NYSSBA) has
    recommended that the level of payment to charters
    be correlated to the level of education provided,
    so that transfer of funds is more closely related
    to the actual cost of educating a particular
    level of student.

69
PRO
  • This differential could be corrected by giving
    the charters what the home district spends at the
    relevant level. At present many charter schools
    are receiving more per pupil than elementary
    schools in the district.

70
CON
  • Given that charters receive little money for
    start-up planning and facilities acquisition,
    they need the additional money to be economically
    viable institutions.

71
III.H . SHOULD THE LEAGUE SUPPORT MEASURES THAT
WOULD LIMIT THE PERCENTAGE OF A DISTRICTS SCHOOL
BUDGET THAT COULD BE PAID TO CHARTER SCHOOLS?
  • The State Education Department has offered a
    guideline that there should be significant
    concern when a Districts payments to charter
    schools are over 7.5 of its total budget. For
    the 2004-05 school year, the districts of Albany,
    Buffalo, and Lackawanna exceeded this level.

72
PRO
  • The purpose of charters is to provide students
    with choice not to decimate traditional public
    schools. SED has recognized that, although
    districts can adjust spending in response to
    charters as long as their financial impact on a
    district is limited, as the percentage of
    students attending charters increases, district
    programs will suffer.

73
CON
  • Demand for charters is presumably greatest in
    those districts that are least successful at
    educating their students. These districts have
    the greatest need for educational alternatives.
  • Mathematically this could become impossible to
    put into practice. Charters receive approval for
    a number of students and, given that different
    monies follow different students according to
    disability status, this cutoff would be
    impossible to monitor from year to year as the
    cutoff point was approached.
  • When such a limit is reached it could impact
    unfairly on a worthy applicant.
  • Districts should find other economies.
  • If charter schools were funded separately this
    would not become a problem.

74
IV.A SHOULD THE LEAGUE SUPPORT AN AMENDMENT TO
THE CHARTER SCHOOL ACT SO THAT A NEW CHARTER
COULD BE REISSUED TO ANOTHER CHARTERING ENTITY
UPON CLOSURE OF A CHARTER SCHOOL?
  • Currently, when a charter school closes, the
    closed school is still counted toward the total
    number of charters. If this amendment passed,
    the charter could be reissued so that the closed
    charter schools would no longer be counted toward
    the maximum number. Given that ten charters are
    no longer in existence, this proposal would allow
    for the immediate issuance of ten additional
    charters.

75
PRO
  • Charter schools are still experimental in New
    York State. We have no knowledge of what factors
    contribute to the success or failure of charters,
    and current funds available for oversight and
    research are insufficient to adequately study
    this issue. Given the current failure rate of
    25, charters can at best be considered a mixed
    social experiment. This measure would enable
    more schools to be chartered without lifting the
    overall number of 100 functioning charter schools
    at any one time. It would be a compromise
    position between those who would substantially
    lift the cap and those who would keep it at its
    current level.
  • This measure might have the beneficial
    consequence of more stringent oversight in the
    renewal and revocation of charters, as chartering
    agencies seek to assure that existing charter
    schools are successful educational institutions.

76
CON
  • Given the current rate of failure and the fact
    that we have no way of ascertaining those factors
    that contribute to school success, the cap should
    not be increased.

77
IV.B SHOULD THE LEAGUE SUPPORT A LIMITATION ON
THE NUMBER OF CHARTERS ISSUED IN NEW YORK STATE?
  • Pro
  • Charter schools are still experimental. More
    time is needed to properly evaluate results of
    existing charter schools.
  • Financial impact on city school districts has
    been negative and is predicted to grow each year
    even with no additional charter schools.
  • The State has recognized that small school
    districts are a fiscally inefficient way of
    educating students and therefore has made money
    available for district consolidation. Yet the
    charter movement makes funds available for what
    are multiple independent units, outside the
    supervision of school districts.

78
CON
  • There are long waiting lists for places in most
    existing charter schools. There is strong
    parental demand, because public schools have
    failed to provide meaningful educational
    opportunities to all their students.
  • Successful charter schools offer the possibility
    of educational achievement, creativity and
    safety in small classes. Lifting the cap would
    expand charter schools into areas where failing
    schools are not adequately serving students.
  • Those opposing a limit believe that competition
    between charter schools and district schools
    ensures quality and will force district schools
    to improve. Already some district schools are
    adopting uniforms and seeking longer school
    hours.

79
IV.C SHOULD ANY INCREASE IN THE CAP BE TIED TO
INCREASED ACCOUNTABILITY FOR EDUCATIONAL QUALITY?
  • PRO
  • There is currently no evidence that charters in
    New York State do a better job of educating
    children than district schools. If the cap is
    lifted, they must be held accountable for
    educational results that are better than
    traditional public schools.
  • There has been insufficient discussion of the
    cost of charters to justify lifting the cap
    without increased accountability for educational
    quality.
  • The market is an inadequate guarantor of charter
    success because parents often chose schools for
    reasons other than academic success. Thus, it is
    incumbent upon the State to monitor for success.

80
CON
  • There already exist adequate procedures for
    monitoring charter schools. Charters of failing
    schools can be and are revoked now.
  • Parental choice is demanding more charter
    schools.

81
IV.D SHOULD ANY INCREASE IN THE CAP BE TIED TO
TRANSITION ASSISTANCE?
  • PRO
  • Those in favor of increasing the cap together
    with provision of transitional aid believe that
    this would mitigate the negative financial impact
    on district schools. There would be time to
    plan and adjust to decreasing enrollment.

82
CON
  • Expense.
  • Additional money can not help dysfunctional
    district schools.

83
IV.E SHOULD ANY INCREASE IN THE CAP BE TIED TO
CREATION OF A DEDICATED STATEWIDE FUNDING STREAM?
  • PRO
  • Assuming an increase in the cap, a school
    district may be left with a majority of children
    with special needs and less money to educate
    them. A dedicated fund would decrease the
    negative impact on those students remaining in
    district schools.

84
CON
  • Expense.
  • Creation of a dedicated fund would remove
    incentive for the district to become more
    efficient in its operations. It would provide a
    financial incentive for educational failure as
    measured by children electing to attend charters.

85
V.A SHOULD THE LEAGUE SUPPORT MEASURES THAT
WOULD LIMIT THE PERCENTAGE OF CHILDREN IN A
DISTRICT THAT COULD ATTEND CHARTERS?
  • See Pro discussion in subsection III.H, relating
    to a limitation on the percentage of district
    funds that could go to charters. This would be a
    similar way of achieving the same result.
  • This would be easier to administer than a cap on
    district spending for charters.

86
CON
  • See Con discussion in subsection III.H. This
    would be a similar way of achieving the same
    result.

87
V.B SHOULD THE LEAGUE SUPPORT MEASURES TO
PREVENT MID-YEAR DEPARTURES?
  • While traditional schools lose money every time a
    charter opens, they do not lose the absolute duty
    to educate children from their district attending
    charters, and the children can leave charters and
    return to their home districts at any time during
    the school year.
  • The high level of transfer out of some charters
    during the school year indicates that they may be
    encouraging children with behavioral problems or
    other special needs to return to their home
    schools, thus enabling charters to weed out those
    students they consider more difficult to educate.

88
PRO
  • This would give home districts and students a
    greater degree of stability in that a student
    who had enrolled in a charter would remain the
    responsibility of the charter for the entire
    year.
  • It would limit the ability of charters to return
    difficult to educate students to their home
    schools.

89
CON
  • Sometimes it is beneficial to move an unhappy
    child.
  • Parents should be able to explore and compare
    charter schools seeking a good fit. School
    choice allows parents to determine which school
    is most appropriate.

90
VI.A SHOULD THE LEAGUE SUPPORT PUBLIC FUNDING OF
ACADEMIC RESEARCH ABOUT THE POSSIBLE CORRELATION
BETWEEN CHARTER SCHOOL CHARACTERISTICS AND
STUDENT ACADEMIC SUCCESS?
  • Areas for investigation might include length of
    school day, week, year per student expenditures
    after factoring in donations the roles of
    for-profit and not-for-profit education
    management organizations (EMOs) rates of teacher
    and administrator retention class size school
    size student selection mechanism and retention,
    demographics of student body size of district
    and location within State the role of
    stand-alone facilities vs. shared facilities in
    charter success .

91
PRO
  • Research into how these variables affect the
    quality of charter schools will provide valuable
    information with which to evaluate the potential
    success of charter applicants.

92
CON
  • Adequate funding may be difficult to secure.
  • Demand is sufficient to create new charters
    without delay.

93
V.B SHOULD THE LEAGUE SUPPORT PUBLIC FUNDING TO
MEASURE EDUCATIONAL GROWTH IN INDIVIDUAL STUDENTS
AS THEY PROGRESS FROM GRADE TO GRADE IN CHARTER
SCHOOLS?
  • Pro
  • The NY State Education Department is requiring
    traditional districts and charters to adopt data
    systems that will enable them to measure value
    added to an individual students achievement over
    time. Academics agree that a longitudinal
    approach, in which the value added to a childs
    education is measured on an annual basis, is a
    more valid approach to measuring educational
    achievement that the current point-in-time
    approach presented by current standardized
    testing.

94
CON
  • By emphasizing only academic achievement, this
    approach takes an unduly narrow view of student
    progress. Educational growth is not the only
    measure of student progress. Social, behavioral
    and creative skills are not as easily measured,
    but are very important in student development.

95
  • I. SHOULD THE NEW YORK STATE CHARTER
    SCHOOL ACT BE AMENDED?
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