Big doings on the charter school front the past few days in Gotham. Yesterday, SUNY’s Board of Trustees decided to postpone consideration of the United Federation of Teachers’ charter school proposal. This NY Post editorial ran on Monday and NY Post partisans were claiming a scalp. Todays Post ed here and NY Daily News ed here. It appears the postponement was political (and observers say the Post editorial did play a role).
This is too bad. Concerns about the accountability of this school seem misplaced. In addition to SUNY’s good track record as an authorizer, these UFT schools would possibly be the most scrutinized charter schools in the nation since partisans on all sides are hoping to prove a point. Besides, the charter deal is about freedom in exchange for results. Both sides of that equation have unfortunately been chiseled away, but it really doesn’t matter that the UFT’s charter application is too prescriptive on inputs for some tastes. That’s not the point.
Concerns about the appropriateness of the school are another matter. Not because the UFT shouldn’t be running schools, they should. But rather because New York is close to bumping up against its cap of 100 charters statewide. Among other charter supporters, NYC schools chief Joel Klein wants the cap lifted. The UFT does not. It should be eliminated. Charters couple top-down public accountability with bottom-up parental accountability. That bottom-up effect provides a natural check on charter school growth. Charters that don’t attract parents, don’t survive.
So, free the UFT Two! Let the UFT have its schools but raise statewide cap. Maybe give the UFT the 101st and 102nd school? This is New York, there must be a deal in there somewhere…