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Charter Schools In New York Assembly: Democratic State Legislators Show Weak Support, Republicans Strongest, Report Says

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In a report released Thursday, the Albany-based Foundation for Education Reform & Accountability rated New York State legislators’ votes on recent bills affecting public charter schools.

Those who received higher ratings voted in favor of allowing charter schools to enhance services provided to students with special needs, lifting the cap on the number of charter schools that can open in the state, and extending the length of time charter schools can operate before requiring renewal.

Legislators who earned low ratings voted to cut charter-school funding statewide, and also supported bills targeting charter schools in Albany for a 20-percent funding cut. Other anti-charter bills proposed increasing facility costs and imposed “unnecessary burdensome mandates,” according to the report.

Here’s a breakdown of the average pro-charter school scores for legislators by party and house:

  • Senate Republicans: 87 percent
  • Senate Democrats: 57 percent
  • Senate Independent Democrats: 75 percent
  • Assembly Democrats: 34 percent
  • Assembly Republicans: 57 percent

Ten senators received perfect ratings of 100 percent on the basis of supporting every pro-charter bill and opposing every anti-charter bill. Only two members of the state Assembly received a perfecting rating.

Jason Brooks, FERA’s Director of Reesarch, noted in a press statement that despite public charter schools’ success in educating disadvantaged student populations in New York, they continue to elicit criticism from teachers unions and “defenders of the status quo.”

He added, “shutting down chronically-failing schools and replacing them with new innovative public charter schools offer one of the greatest reforms for empowering families with the quality educational options they deserve.”

Charter school attendance has more than quadrupled in 10 years, and the movement recently celebrated its 20th anniversary. Currently, more than two million -- or 4.2 percent of -- students in 41 states and D.C. attend a charter school, with some 610,000 more occupying spots on waiting lists.

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