The Business Council opposes this bill because it both undermines the current successful charter schools application process and effectively eliminates any increase in or expansion of existing charter schools.
While this bill purports to increase the number of charter schools that can be approved in New York State, it changes the current process in such a way as to effectively preclude the establishment of charter schools that are independent of school districts. This
compromises the entire notion of charter schools as public schools that are free of the majority of rules, regulations, restrictions and traditions that govern local education agency run schools.
School districts, with the exception of New York City, oppose the existence of charter schools – so giving them the authority to charter entities which they oppose simply makes no sense. In many areas of the state charter schools offer low-income families an
alternative to poorly performing public schools and, in fact a majority of charter schools are outperforming public schools in their regions on state elementary and middle school English and math exams. Two charter elementary schools were among the 14 elementary schools to receive The Business Council's Pathfinder Award in 2005, and one elementary charter school is among the 12 winner schools that will receive a Pathfinder Award for 2006.
It's clear that charter schools are successful public school options for parents and kids. The current stringent criteria for their establishment and continuance should be maintained – but there should be no restrictions on how many can be created.
Charter schools all over the state have waiting lists of kids whose parents are desperate to get them out of failing public schools. The needs of those parents and kids take priority over the discomfort of school boards and educators, in our view. The Business Council opposes any legislation that undermines and restricts the creation and expansion of charter schools.