A new bill was introduced in the State Senate on Friday, April 30. This bill would raise the charter school cap to 460; more than doubling the number, without allowing audits by the state comptroller, without charters being required to post their charter and by-laws online, without giving voice to parents on co-locations, without barring profit-making enterprises from making money off operating charter schools and without requiring charters to provide special education services for students at their charter school.
This is an open invitation to abuse and fraud and to further overcrowding of our public school system.
Without more rigorous protections of the rights of all parents, students, and taxpayers, financial corruption and abuse of power will continue to flourish, and the education of our NYC children will suffer grievously as a result.
Please sign our petition below urging the state legislature to Vote No on bill number S7678/A10928.
Thank you for your support.
Class Size Matters & NY Charter Parents Association
To Governor Paterson and the State Legislature:
We urge you to reject the bill introduced in the Senate, S7678/A10928, that would raise the state cap on charters, yet would grievously fail to meet the need for more transparency, accountability, and parent input in the operation of these schools.
If enacted, this legislation would continue to allow abuse of power, fraud, and misuse of public funds to occur. It would also continue to allow parents to be pitted against each other and communities to be bitterly divided, in battling each other for scarce resources and space.
We urge you to oppose any attempt to raise the cap on charter schools, until and unless the following minimum conditions are established by law:
1. All charter schools should be fully subject to state audits by the State Comptroller in their use of public funds, and no profit-making operation should be involved in the management of these schools. No individual or organization that manages or operates schools should be allowed to use public funds for electoral or partisan purposes.
2. No co-location of a charter school in an existing public school building in NYC should occur without the prior approval of the relevant Community Education Council, as well as the approval of parents in the existing school building that is being asked to share space.
3. Charter schools should be required to enroll their fair share of English Language Learners and special education students, and they should be prevented from unfairly expelling or counseling any student needing these services out of their schools. Moreover, all special education students should be provided with their required services within the school building, rather than shipping them out to receive these services elsewhere.
4. Every charter school should be required to have an independent parent association and a school leadership team, and each charter school board should be required to include the president of the parent association as a member.
5. Every charter school should be required to post their charter, by-laws and financial statements online to increase accountability and transparency; and each charter board meeting should be held in the school building.
6. A Universal Parent Bill of Rights and Student Bill of Rights should be established for charter schools, and the state must develop a formal complaint and grievance process that includes tracking and resolving issues expeditiously, within a reasonable time period. Parents and teachers in charter schools must be provided with whistleblower protections when exposing corruption, financial mismanagement and/or corporate chicanery.
7. Charter school authorization should be granted only by the Board of Regents, and the state should have the authority to take over a charter school and re-constitute the board when it has been proven to be incompetent, dysfunctional and/or corrupt.
Without more rigorous protections of the rights of all of NY State's parents, students, and taxpayers, financial corruption and abuse of power will continue to flourish, and the education of our children will suffer grievously as a result.
We urge you to read our Framework for Consensus: Shared Principles for Charter and District Schools, posted at http://www.classsizematters.org/common_principles_v3.pdf, signed onto by both charter school and district parents, for additional goals that we believe all New York schools should be required to achieve to meet the needs of their students for a quality education.
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