Tisch/Loeb versus Young/Rosa: The Battle Over the Charter Cap

A New York State Surrogate judge wrote, “No one’s life, liberty or property is safe while the NYS legislature is in session,” truer words were never spoken.

At 1:30 am in December, 1998, during a lame duck session called by Governor Pataki the legislature passed a package of bills,

Pataki and legislative leaders agreed on a package of bills that included the creation of charter schools, a 38 percent pay raise and proposals to penalize lawmakers for late budget and to help farmers receive higher prices for milk.

Over the last twenty years the charter school industry has grown exponentially. The original charter school legislation set a cap of 100 schools, over the years the cap has been increased a number of times (currently 460) a specific cap for New York City was reached a few years ago.

The current law: sets two charter school authorizers, the Board of Regents and the SUNY Board of Trustees/Charter School Institute. The two authorizers are totally separate and operate under regulations established by each authorizer. The Board of Regents Charter School Frameworks here and the SUNY Charter School Institute here.

The Board of Regents and the SUNY Board of Trustees have had a contentious relationship. Merryl Tisch, the former Chancellor of the Board of Regents advocated for the Board of Regents becoming the only authorizer, without success. Tisch and Shelly Silver had a long relationship and when Silver was indicted and left the legislature Tisch left the Board of Regents and was appointed to the SUNY Board of Trustees by the Governor, who appoints all members of the SUNY Board. Carl McCall stepped down as Chancellor and Tisch replaced him.

Daniel Loeb, a billionaire hedge fund investor was a member of the SUNY board and the leader of the SUNY Charter Institute, an extremely outspoken supporter of charters and an opponent of teacher unions. Loeb made “inappropriate” comments (many called racist) and resigned as leader of the Charter Institute. (See here) and the SUNY board.

The Board of Regents members are “elected” by a joint session of the state legislatures, in reality by the Speaker of the Assembly. The custom has been to make the selections in collaboration with the local state electeds.

The Board of Regents has rigorous standards for granting charters and frequently extends charters for less than the five year limit. SUNY extends charters for the full five years and in a number of cases well before the expiration of the charter.

 A few years ago SUNY claimed they had the right to certify teachers, “Independent licensure process is necessary to alleviate a teacher shortage.” The SUNY plan eliminated a master’s degree requirement for teachers and permitted charter schools authorized by SUNY to certifytheir teachers with one month of classroom instruction and 40 hours of practice teaching.”

The Board of Regents challenged the SUNY action in the courts and the court sustained the challenge.

SUNY, again, is directly challenging the Board of Regents by approving a charter high school in New York City, challenging the cap concluding,

The Regents are unable to make the required findings in accordance with Education Law §2852(2), including, but not limited to, the findings that (a) the charter schools described in the application meet the requirements set out in this article and all other applicable laws, rules and regulations; and (b) the applicants can demonstrate the ability to operate the schools in an educationally and fiscally sound manner. In addition, in accordance with Education Law §2852(9) there are no charters available for issuance in New York City. Although the proposed charter actions are identified as revisions, the nature of the proposed charter actions and a review of supporting documentation evidence the creation of a new charter high school, in potential violation of the law. These proposed charter actions must be abandoned.

Under the arcane law if the Regents returns a request for a new charter the SUNY board can ignore the request and after 30 days move forward with the charter.

The Board of Regents, as they did with the SUNY attempt to certify teachers, can challenge the action in the courts.

Michael Mulgrew, the leader of the teacher union applauded the actions of the Board of Regents (Read here)

 Why is SUNY challenging the NYC Charter Cap?  The cap is embedded in law and it is highly unlikely that the court will sustain SUNY?

Is Loeb flexing his muscles?

Does Governor Cuomo want to make raising the NYC Charter Cap an issue in his run for a fourth term? (Cuomo appoints the SUNY Board)

Will Cuomo and Adams cooperate in a pro-charter push in Albany?

Will this action mobilize progressive anti-charter legislators?

Stay tuned

One response to “Tisch/Loeb versus Young/Rosa: The Battle Over the Charter Cap

  1. I thought that Adam’s said he would not raise the cap. However he also said that he would close non performing charter schools, which would give him the flexibility to open a high school.
    Since many charter school advocates are anti public school and certainly anti union, I would love to see more attempts by these advocates to raise money for public schools rather than squeeze their budgets by fighting to shift public funds to new charters. Maybe Adam’s should put his energies in that direction.


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