New York’s top education policymakers are set to discuss a slew of charter school issues at their meeting this week.
The Board of Regents will decide whether some charter schools should remain open and vote on changes to others, such as increasing enrollment. Additionally, a state work group that has been tackling issues of diversity and integration will meet, and the board is scheduled to discuss its plan to evaluate and support schools under the federal Every Student Succeeds Act.
Assuming the charter school votes aren’t contentious, the meeting is shaping up to be a fairly quiet one. (Although, there’s always the possibility of a surprise at the last minute.)
Here’s what we know about the items so far:
Twenty charter schools will be discussed, in some capacity, by the board on Monday.
For six of the schools authorized by the board, Regents will formally decide whether the schools are performing well enough to stay open. Others are asking for enrollment increases or a name change. Another set of schools whose charters are up for renewal on Monday’s agenda is overseen by the city’s Department of Education. The Regents can either accept the city’s recommended actions or suggest changes.
Though these votes are typically straightforward, any discussion of charter schools by the boardprovides more insights into how the state’s top education policymakers view them. In the past, Regents have sent mixed signals about charter schools. At their meeting in November, for instance, the board took the unprecedented step of rejecting two charter schools that the state education department suggested approving. But at the same meeting, they approved five different schools, bringing approvals to the highest number in four years.
The Regents “Research Work Group” is slated to meet on Monday. Though no official materials are posted, the group has been tackling issues of integration and diversity. At the last meeting, this work group started outlining potential ideas to address school segregation. They included convening a conference to discuss school integration research and bringing together the state’s civil rights groups to address the issue.
Every Student Succeeds Act
On Monday morning, the state will likely provide more insight into a new rule that will soon require schools to disclose how much money they spend on students.
The requirement is part of the federal Every Student Succeeds Act, and it is also at the core of a brewing state budget debate. While ESSA requires schools to disclose financial information, Gov. Andrew Cuomo wants to go a step further and give state officials the power to reject local budgets if they do not provide enough money to the neediest schools.
The state’s budget director, Robert Mujica, released a statement on Sunday that seemed intended to justify the governor’s proposal. “The question is not overall state spending. New York State leads the nation in spending,” Mujica said in part of his lengthy statement. “The fundamental question is how much do poor schools receive versus richer schools?”
But New York State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia has already come out forcefully against the governor’s proposal. The state’s website says only that officials will provide a “recommended approach and time line” for the law’s “fiscal transparency requirements,” but Elia may also use the time to address the governor’s budget proposal.
The board is also scheduled to vote on a new teacher certification area that is specific to computer science, discuss funding for pre-K programs that serve students with disabilities, and provide an update on the state’s work to ensure data privacy.