New York Removes Existing Cap on Charter Schools

June 11, 2010

On May 28, the state of New York passed a law to more than double the amount of charter schools. The new law raises the maximum number of charters allowed from 200 to 460.

New York passed the law in order to apply on June 1 for the Obama administration’s "Race for the Top" program which requires states to compete for federal education funding. The federal funding is being portioned out to states that aggressively implement such measures as tying teachers' tenure to students' standardized test scores and expanding charter schools.

During the first round of competition, many states – including New York – were denied the federal funding because they did not remove existing caps on the number of charter schools allowed in the state.

Charter schools are created by turning public schools over to private contractors, both non-profit and for-profit entities. These schools are funded through monies taken from the public school treasury but instead of being run by public authorities they are run by private corporations. For every student who enrolls, a charter school receives a payment from the school district in which the student resides. As with other “choice” plans, this draws funds out of poorer districts, resulting in deterioration of those public schools. Charter schools intensify a dual school system in which a small number of children get high quality education, while the majority of working class and minority students are left in underfunded schools.

The Obama administration’s push for charter schools is part of the program for undermining our country’s system of secular, public education and privatizing the schools. Charter schools take vitally needed funds out of the public school system. Yet, even though charter schools are built and funded with taxpayers’ monies, they are exempt from public regulation and oversight. Charter schools are also being used to attack the unions and force down the wages of teachers and other school employees.

Our country's system of public schools is a vital part of the infrastructure of a modern society. For over 200 years, the people of this country have fought for the right to education and to set up and expand a nation-wide network of public schools as the means to guarantee this right.

Today the workers and people must defend the public schools from the attempts to privatize it through the charter school movement, vouchers or any other means. Furthermore, we must fight to further develop the program of public education. Such a program for a modern educational system will include, among other things: 1) extension of the system of public education to include universal and free infant and child care as well as university education; and 2) equal funding for all public schools by demanding that the federal government guarantee equality in education for all.