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Opinion

Gov. Cuomo, charter cheerleader

New York Teacher

Gov. Cuomo is so enthusiastic about charter schools that he wants to greatly expand their number even though he acknowledges that they are not accepting the same number of high-needs students as public schools.

The governor is proposing to raise the cap on the number of charter schools by 100, for a total of 560 in the state. He would also eliminate the regional caps so that, potentially, most of the new charters under the increased limit could open in New York City.

Cuomo didn’t offer reasons in his budget address why state residents should accept more charter schools or how a greater than 20 percent increase in their number could benefit anyone beyond the governor’s own billionaire campaign backers with ties to the charter industry.

He called for the increase even though he also proposed “anti-creaming” legislation for charters, which acknowledges a fact that charter school operators often deny: They serve fewer students who are English language learners, have disabilities or are from families in deep poverty than district public schools.

By skimming or creaming off the easier-to-educate students in a given area, charters leave public schools with a higher concentration of high-needs students. That hurts public schools and their students.

New York already has a requirement that charters enroll high-needs students at the same rate as their local districts. It was part of the 2010 law that last raised the charter cap.

Many charters have ignored this requirement. But they have faced no consequences for their failure.

The solution is for the state to mandate that charters, like neighborhood public schools, accept all students on a first-come, first-served basis.

To do anything less is to reward charters’ bad behavior.

Related Topics: Charter Schools