NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

New York State Charter Schools

January 13, 1997

New York Gov. George Pataki wants to allow parents, teachers and community groups to form tax-supported schools that would operate independently of local school boards. His proposal is contained in a state budget to be released tomorrow.

He will also offer a measure to curb spending on special education by eliminating the financial incentives that encourage schools to transfer children with mild learning disabilities or behavioral problems to expensive segregated classrooms.

While the charter proposal reportedly would enjoy bipartisan support among the state's lawmakers, teachers' unions have vowed to fight a provision which would allow the charter schools to hire teachers who are not certified by the state.

  • Two dozen states now permit schools to operate under charters granted by the state and local school districts.
  • Parents' groups and education experts reportedly are praising the governor's endorsement of the charter concept.
  • New York City already allows a close cousin of charter schools -- called "alternative schools" -- to exist.

The move to clamp down on the transfer of children with mild disabilities into special classes is seen as having educational and cost-saving benefits. Many studies have criticizedthe program as an inefficient bureaucracy that consigns thousands of children -- a disproportionate number of them black and Hispanic boys -- to separate classrooms with little hope of graduating with a regular diploma.

New York schools get an additional $4,000 a year from the state for each additional special ed child. In the future, school districts would get a fixed sum for special education based on the statewide average of children with disabilities -- currently about 12 percent.

The Governor's plan would penalize districts with more than 12 percent of students in segregated classrooms and reward those with fewer than 12 percent.

Source: Raymond Hernandez, "Pataki Proposes to Allow Parents to Create Schools Independent of Local Control," New York Times, Monday, January 13, 1997


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