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SkoolwatchPerson was signed in when posted
01:42 AM ET (US)
Gutting charters


Last Updated: 10:35 AM, January 4, 2010

Posted: 1:22 AM, January 4, 2010

Gov. Paterson needs to urge the Legislature to take quick action to lift New York's cap on charter schools in his State of the State message on Wednesday. Even more so, he and the Legislature must resist the efforts of the state and New York City teachers unions to hurt charter schools by inserting "poison pill" amendments into any legislation.

The Jan. 19 deadline for filing New York's application for federal Race to the Top dollars is fast approaching; federal application reviewers aren't allowed to consider any legislative actions taken after that date. New York could get from $350 million to $700 million from this highly competitive $4 billion program -- crucial funds in the middle of a mounting fiscal crisis.

Even as state political leaders line up to lift the cap, however, the state and city teachers unions are shifting gears. Seeing their inability to stop the lifting, they're attempting to gut charter schools through the back door. At a weekend press event, the New York City union, the United Federation of Teachers, released a report of its recommendations.

It and the state union, New York State United Teachers, are trying to:

* Cut funding: NYSUT would like to shift the entire cost of charter-school per pupil funding to the state, whereas now a portion of per-pupil aid (federal, state and local) follows the child. Because they know the state has no money for new initiatives, this is a not so subtle attempt to eliminate funding for charter schools over time.

The answer, instead, is to provide charter-school students with funding parity. Right now, when a student switches from a district school to a charter school, his or her per-pupil funding is slashed by about a third -- a kind of penalty for choosing a charter school.

* Mandate unionization: All charter schools are now subject to the state's Taylor Law, which gives teachers, like other public employees, the right to be represented by a union, if they so choose.

In 1998, when the charter-school law was adopted, NYSUT and the UFT attempted to convince the legislature to mandate that all charter-school employees be automatically represented by them, whether the teachers liked it or not. That didn't fly, and the unions now represent only those charter schools at which a majority of teachers have expressed a desire to be represented by a teacher union.

Out of the 170 new charter schools authorized thus far, 18 charter schools have opted for teachers unions. At three other charter schools that at one point were unionized, teachers later kicked out their union, perhaps influenced by the unions' anti-charter legislative activities.

The fact that some schools have voted unions in and others have voted unions out suggests that the law, as it is, is fair to all.

The UFT is urging its members to back legislation to give charter-school teachers "the right to organize and bargain collectively." In reality, they've had this right since day one. The UFT now proposes mandating that all charter schools automatically be unionized -- regardless of the views of the teachers at the school.

* Install admissions quotas: The UFT is calling for charter schools to serve "all children, especially special education children and English language learners." Right now, charter schools admit students, regardless of special-education or English language learner status, on a first come, first served basis. If the school is oversubscribed, typical in New York City, students are admitted through an open, random lottery.

Thus, charter schools are open to "all students."

Interestingly, according to the most recently published data, the UFT's own charter school serves only 1 percent English language learners and 6 percent students with disabilities, compared to 13 percent for the community district in which the school is located.

If the UFT proposal to set special-education quotas were adopted, the UFT's own school would be found in violation.

* Other anti-charter ideas: Buried in the UFT report were proposals to eliminate the State University as a chartering entity, apply "prevailing wage" law to charter-school facilities and ban charter schools from hiring professional management companies. The list of anti-charter measures goes on and on.

Paterson and the Legislature should see through this gamesmanship and not risk hundreds of millions of dollars by going along with these stealth measures. The governor must ensure that any bill lifting the cap doesn't gut charter schools instead of expanding this important option to more children.

Thomas W. Carroll is president of the Foundation for Education Reform & Accountability.
What a bunch of crap!
05:02 PM ET (US)
Future NY teachers avoid state’s new pension plan
December 24, 2009 by THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Prospective full-time teachers are scrambling to get into the current state pension tier before a reform measure designed to save New York taxpayers billions of dollars takes effect New Year’s Day.

The change adopted earlier this month means new hires as of Jan. 1 will receive less generous retirement benefits than teachers vested under the current pension plan.

New York State United Teachers alerted prospective teachers that they could “lock in” coverage under the more generous pension plan by working as a substitute teacher for just one day before Jan. 1.

State Teachers Retirement System records show that as of Tuesday, almost 3,200 workers have joined the system this year under the more generous tier. Last year, just more than 1,000 workers joined the system.

11:17 AM ET (US)
What is going on with this school board???? Always in the paper about bad press. We have to get rid of the three stooges before its too late. Dump the three stooges. Does anyone know why employees are being call by the DA??????Do we have a WATERGATE IN EAST ISLIP?????
Edited 12-24-2009 11:18 AM
Hey losers...
04:31 PM ET (US)
Let’s see…

The economy is a mess, state aid has been delayed, the board conducted a transportation revote based on an improper petition unnecessarily costing the taxpayers more money, Superintendent Chu feels special education students are uneducable, and the board continues to cover up abusive teachers and theft and vandalism by a member’s child and all the losers can do is obsessively post about their nemesis.
Deleted by topic administrator 12-28-2009 03:00 AM
Isn't he?
07:10 AM ET (US)
No, it's Superintendent Chu who says it's a waste of money to educate special education children because they can't learn. He must be basing this assumption on East Islip statistics. Funny how neighboring school districts are able to educate their special education children and for less money to boot!
10:26 PM ET (US)
Watergate coming soon to the east islip board!!!!!!!!COVERUP!!!! STEP down Reed and Phillps!!!!!!!!!If a cop knows anything he should report it!!!!!!BYE BYE
Deleted by topic administrator 12-28-2009 03:00 AM
Brava Andrea!
03:13 PM ET (US)
OPINION: LI needs legislators who'll work for the taxpayers

December 16, 2009 by ANDREA VECCHIO /

Andrea Vecchio is an activist with the East Islip TaxPAC and Long Islanders for Educational Reform.

As Gov. David A. Paterson's delay of state school-aid payments shows, New York State is facing financial collapse. Budget cuts will have to be made, and overtaxed Long Island property owners are set to be hit with a potential tax nightmare. Federal stimulus money will dry up, payouts for teacher pension-fund losses must be made, new federal taxes on "Cadillac" health plans are likely, and reductions to state school aid and STAR are all but certain.

Next November, the entire State Legislature will be up for re-election. So the question for all the legislative candidates must be: "Are you for the taxpayers or the public unions?" Our current legislators' records indicate that the people who really run Albany are special-interest groups, most notably the public-sector unions.

Reform efforts are routinely killed or distorted by legislators of both parties whose loyalty appears to be to powerful special interests, not to taxpayers. Case in point: The legislature finally enacted Tier V pension reform for future public employees this month, but not before the law was changed to add a guarantee of teacher retiree health benefits in perpetuity - no matter the cost.

The biggest disappointment has been the state's inability to pass a property-tax cap. The original proposal for the STAR program, enacted in 1997 to relieve the burden on homeowners, included a tax cap. But the legislature replaced it with a spending cap, to take effect only after a school budget was defeated two times at the ballot box. It doesn't work: In many districts whose voters have twice rejected school budgets, the tax rate has actually increased due to a number of exclusions in state law - effectively disenfranchising and demoralizing voters.

State taxpayers send more than $3 billion in STAR aid to school districts, and our taxes are higher than ever. That's because no reforms have been enacted to limit the true cost drivers, salaries and benefits, which in my district are responsible for 80 percent of school spending. Our legislators are too worried about union opposition to get it done.

In 2008, a tax cap was proposed by the Suozzi Commission. A bill passed in the Senate, but Speaker Sheldon Silver wouldn't allow it to come up for a vote in the Assembly. Instead, a circuit-breaker bill widely misrepresented as a "cap" passed in the Assembly - another useless "one-house bill."

In 2009, a new cap bill was drafted by the governor's office, but it included a poison pill: a huge carve-out for teacher pension fund costs. It died.

The 2010 session begins next month and so far there's no tax cap bill ready to go. The governor and the legislature support another spending cap instead - hardly surprising in an election year, but disappointing nonetheless.

The only hope is to have many new candidates committed to fighting for taxpayers and our economic survival running for office next November. No post should be left uncontested. Even good legislators have gone along in this system for too long, content with going though the motions, passing one-house bills never meant to go anywhere. All currently serving legislators need to be put on the spot by taxpayers and asked whether they'll finally support a genuine property tax cap.

Public unions buying legislators' loyalty for their members' support at the polls will only end when our representatives fear the taxpayers' wrath more than the power brokers. Actively involved voters and a new cadre of citizen legislators are a requirement to make it happen.

"Reforms" like spending caps or tax caps with exclusions for exploding pensions and health insurance will no longer do. Taxpayers and parents need to recruit and support candidates for the State Legislature who are pro-taxpayer and pro-school, committed to work for both an affordable, effective workforce and well-run, high-quality schools.
Edited 12-18-2009 03:13 PM
09:18 PM ET (US)
Do you recall why the teachers were laid off in the 1990's. The reason was due to the fact that enrollments had decreased and these teachers were no longer needed. Some of the teachers were in the school districts for a number of years.

The way things are going with enrollments, this could happen once again. Young families with children are finding it harder and harder to remain on Long Island.
Deleted by topic administrator 12-28-2009 03:00 AM
08:34 AM ET (US)
Dear East Islip BOE,

The following is a comment from responding to the recent delay in state aid. It succinctly states the feelings of many, many community members. When are you going to start negotiating in the best interest of the community and the children? If the teachers don't like it, let them work elsewhere.


          It's par for the course to immediately assume it's, once again, the children who will suffer. Teachers and administrators are apparently immune from feeling any suffering by way of 100+ page contracts guaranteeing their collective happiness for all eternity. Just once I would like to witness real fiscal responsibility on the part of school boards when negotiating collective bargaining agreements. May I ask where we are afraid the teachers will go if they are not given what they want? Are they all going to flee into private industry and begin working 2000+ hours per year? Representatives (school boards included) are elected to act in the best interest of their constituents. It is time they begin doing so.

          o 12/16/09
  Messages 1569-1565 deleted by author 12-28-2009 03:00 AM
Who Pays??
04:22 PM ET (US)
Are the taxpayers paying for this too?

H1N1 Vaccination for Staff
The H1N1 Vaccination that was scheduled to be given to employees on Tuesday, December 15, 2009 has been cancelled. Please be advised that you will be able to receive this vaccination at the office of: Dr. Michael Torelli, 369 East Main Street, East Islip, NY 11730,
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