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Sunday, January 24, 2010

NY State Assembly member explains his vote against raising charter school cap

Harvey Weisenberg publicized his reasons for opposing raising the charter school cap. I applaud Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Senate leader John L. Sampson New York and other State legislators for opposing the expansion of charter schools. These schools exclude special education students, English Language Learners (English as a Second Language students), save for a few tokens. This movement represents a theft of the public commonwealth for the interest of private investors.

Dear Ms. Smith:

I have received your letter expressing your opposition to expanding charter schools in New York State.

Please be assured that I wholeheartedly agree with your position. On January 19th, the Legislature convened to address the issue of charter school expansion with regard to the federal Race to the Top funds. The Governor put forth a bill that would have allowed charter school expansion and the legislative leaders in the Senate and Assembly also put forth a bill that would have expanded the charters, but with more oversight on their operations. I am pleased to advise you that the
bills were not acted upon and did not come to the floor of the Assembly for a vote.

Please be assured that I will remain opposed to expanding charters unless significant reforms in the laws governing them are included in the package. Specifically, I refer to greater financial oversight, including audits by the State Comptroller. All public school districts and BOCES in New York State have been subjected to Comptroller audits and I strongly believe charters should not be exempted. Additionally, I remain gravely concerned with charter school admission practices, particularly for those students with disabilities. I have enclosed (below) a copy of a letter I sent to the State Education Department in July of this year, which explains my stance in greater detail.

Thank you for taking the time to contact me to express your views regarding charter schools.


Harvey Weisenberg

Member of Assembly

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