Monday, January 18, 2010

UFT 1, Kids 0: Silver Flips the Bird to NY State School Kids in his own 'Race To The Bottom'

This is NY Post editorial opinion. It is absolutely right on. What is going on in Albany is despicable. New Yorkers deserve so much more, and so much better representation. Vote the bums out!

UPDATE: The New York State Assembly were called by Gov. Paterson to meet at 8 PM tonight in a rare meeting on ML King Day. Speaker Sheldon Silver gaveled in and then gaveled out immediately, foreclosing any hope of discussion on the alternative proposal to the Assembely's proposed legislation which is widely called "a charter killer" and almost certainly will kill NY State's chances to qualify for $700 million in federal school aid. Charter schools are publicly funded but privately organized, and have been wildly successful in reaching minority and underserved communities, boosting academic performance far beyond that of traditional public schools. While charter schools are demonstrably more successful than traditional public schools, the New York legislature is heavily influenced by the New York State United Teachers, which doesn't want more charters because charter teachers do not organize. Politics in Albany being what it is, the pols there would rather kill the chances for New York to qualify for Race to the Top, flushing the cash, rather than allow charter schools and their students to enjoy the unqualifed academic success they have in the past several years.

" Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver flipped a stiff middle finger to President Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan over the weekend, all but flushing $700 million in special federal school aid down the toilet and initiating the dismantlement of New York's stunningly successful charter school movement.

It was a signal victory for the United Federation of Teachers, which can't abide charter schools because -- unlike the majority of unionized schools -- they actually educate kids.

Silver had help.

* John Sampson, a honcho in the comic cabal that runs the state Senate, signed off on the cave-in.

* As did state Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch, who could have spoken out against it but didn't. Her silence signaled complicity.

And where was Gov. Paterson while this was going on? In a New Jersey steakhouse, apparently in full canoodle with a woman not his wife.

It is to weep.

Paterson's love life should be of relevance only to himself, his wife and what passes for his conscience.

But the governor was desperately needed in New York this past weekend, putting some muscle where his mouth has been on school reforms demanded before tomorrow by Obama and Duncan in exchange for $700 million -- the state's share of the $4.35 billion federal Race to the Top school-reform program.

Duncan is demanding that states encourage charter schools -- publicly funded, privately run institutions that have been hugely successful everywhere, especially in New York.

No surprise, then, that they have been targeted for extinction by the UFT; it can't stand the competition, so to hell with the kids.

And no surprise that Silver popped up with a bill meant to create the impression of compliance with Race to the Top criteria -- but which in fact is intended simply to kill charters in New York.

The measure seems expansive -- it purports to raise the current 200-school statewide cap on charters -- but it plants so many poison pills in the relevant governance law that the movement simply can't long survive.

Even Silver isn't so arrogant as to believe Duncan will fall for this scam -- he surely won't -- so clearly the speaker has written off the $700 million.

So, too, Sampson and Tisch.

Happily, Silver's bill is no sure thing in the Senate.

And Paterson, if he can overcome his distractions, intends to call lawmakers to Albany tonight to vote on an alternative to the Silver bill.

So faint hope remains.

But, in the end, it's better that no bill passes than one that further damages New York's beleaguered charter schools.

Silver, Sampson and Tisch have a lot for which to answer.

Perhaps it's better to leave it at that."

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