Posts tagged "Bill Phillips"
December 12, 2012
At the same time as the State Education Department is publicly pressuring school districts to adopt new teacher evaluations by next month, it’s also quietly demanding that charter schools turn in their teachers’ ratings from last year.
Charter school advocates are urging most school leaders to ignore the demand, even though state officials have said it’s needed in order to fulfill its Race to the Top plan. The advocates say the demand would be hard to fulfill and impinges on charter schools’ autonomy.
The standoff has its roots in the state’s 2010 application for federal Race to the Top funds. In its application to the U.S. Department of Education for funding, New York State said it would require schools to rate teachers according to specific guidelines and would collect ratings for all teachers, even in charter schools.
Some charter schools committed to sharing their teacher ratings at the time in order to receive some of the state’s $700 million in winnings. But two thirds did not — and the state wants their teacher ratings too, according to a series of updated guidance memos that officials have issued over the last 18 months.
City and state charter school advocates have pushed back against the demands throughout that time.
“Both the New York City Charter School Center and the New York Charter Schools Association believe that this reporting requirement does not properly apply to non-Race to the Top charter schools,” Charter Center CEO James Merriman and NYCSA President Bill Phillips wrote in a strongly worded email to school leaders last month. They added, “Ultimately, it is up to you whether you choose to report this data.”
So far, few school leaders have made that choice. By the original submission deadline Nov. 30, just 30 of 184 charter schools in the state had handed over teacher ratings from last year. (more…)
June 18, 2012
The state teachers union is lobbying against a bill that would allow charter schools to serve students with special needs more readily.
The bill would allow charter schools, which essentially operate as one-school districts now, to pool their resources to offer special services to students with disabilities and English language learners. The bill was introduced in April, just weeks before state charter school authorizers proposed enrollment targets to comply with a requirement added to the state’s charter school law in 2010 that the schools serve “comparable” numbers of students with special needs.
Charter school advocates have spent recent weeks lobbying for The Charter School Students With Special Needs Act and until now had encountered little resistance in Albany. The bill sailed through the State Senate’s education committee, and Assemblyman Karim Camara introduced an Assembly version two weeks ago.
But last week, NYSUT circulated a memo urging lawmakers to reject the bill. The memo lauded the bill’s sponsors and acknowledged charter schools’ challenges in serving special needs student populations. But it also warned that the bill could result in ”a huge expansion of charter schools” and create an arrangement in which charter schools “segregate all of their students with disabilities to one site.” (more…)
April 2, 2009
Charter schools will not have to pay union wages on construction projects, as New York’s Department of Labor had ordered them to do, a state appeals court ruled today.
The decision follows a tussle in which the state ordered that schools pay their janitors and construction workers union wages, causing an angry uproar among the schools’ leaders, who said the high wages would have been impossible for them to afford and could have jeopardized their ability to expand into new buildings.
The Department of Labor began asking charter schools to pay the union wage in September of 2007, but a group of charter schools in Albany and in the Bronx filed a lawsuit challenging the decision. A state supreme court upheld the decision last May, but the plaintiffs appealed, and this new decision overturns the supreme court’s.
Charter schools are publicly funded, but operate outside the regular Department of Education bureaucracy. The appeals court concluded that the schools are “inapplicable” to the law requiring that certain public entities that hold contracts with workers pay what is known as the “prevailing wage,” or the union wage.
Charter school supporters cheered the decision. “This is a victory for charter schools, which are under tremendous financial pressure to meet increasing expenses with less funding,” Bill Phillips, the president of the New York Charter Schools Association and a co-plaintiff in the case, said in a statement.