Charter Schools To Double
by Anthony Stasi
Jun 01, 2010 | 8747 views | 0 0 comments | 240 240 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The vote last week to expand the amount of charter schools in New York was a good step toward making public education more competitive with private institutions. While many people are turning this into a battle between unions and the legislature, this legislation gives public education a chance to restructure. It is by no means a cure-all to the woes of public education, and it does not fill a budget gap that the state needs to address in regard to education, but it shows that the Assembly is willing to experiment with change.

The bill voted on last week addresses some complaints about the charter system. For instance, parents of students in non-charter schools need to consent to a charter school sharing the same building with the regular school. Having children in two different educational systems in the same building can be polarizing, and even confusing to students, so it is understandable that parents might not want valuable space to go to a program that does not include their child.

The bill also removes the allowance for "for-profit" charter institutions, which may or may not be a good idea. The words "for-profit" and "education" are not really compatible, but reality tells us that when we remove the competitive aspect of the system, it becomes vulnerable to poorer results. Perhaps that change will not hurt the charter system.

This was not an easy vote for the Assembly, which is highly Democratic and in most cases is probably aligned with the interests of the teachers’ unions. But the president of the United Federation of Teachers, Michael Mulgrew, was not entirely opposed, so at the very least it is a bill that made it through the legislature – not perfect, not completely competitive, but it does open the door for more innovation.

The city has a limit to how many charter schools it can have, and it will now be capped at 214 (up from around 100). All of this means that New York State can compete for $700 million in Race to the Top funds, which is a federal program to encourage innovative public schools. But let us remember that applying for funds and competing for funds does not necessarily mean that you are getting the funds. We see this in competitive public housing programs as well. Many times, cities meet criteria for competitive federal funding, and they do not actually get the funding, but at least New York is in the game now.

Dennis Hopper to the First Tee

When a man reaches his late 30's, his priorities change a little. What once were dreams of playing professional sports now are replaced with wanting to own his favorite teams. Where some may have wished to be in Hollywood, they now only want to mingle on a rare occasion with the tinsel-town crowd.

A question that friends ask from time is "who would you want in your foursome in a round of golf?" Every guy includes Jack Nicholson - that is a no-brainer. Many guys, however, mention Dennis Hopper. Hopper was one of those actors who was able to reinvent himself. He was introduced to the thirty-somethings in Hoosiers as a basketball genius, but he was known long before that as the director of Easy Rider, as well as his memorable turn in Apocalypse Now. If you want to go far back enough, he was great as a Nazi youth, who realizes the error of his ways in an episode of the Twilight Zone.

Hopper would have been awesome to play golf with, and last week, the angels allowed him to play through.

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