The United Federation of Teachers yesterday proposed state legislation that will require charter schools to accept and keep comparable numbers of high-needs students as traditional public schools or risk reductions in state funding, state renewals, expansions or new schools and — for repeated offenses — forfeiting their charters.
But charter school leaders and advocates were quick to call the UFT proposal a cynical attempt at putting the brakes on the ever expanding charter network.
The union’s proposal comes just weeks into Albany’s legislative session began and after the State University of New York has launched an investigation into the discipline policies at controversial charter school network Success Academy, and allegations it continues to try to push difficult and disabled students out.
It also upped the ante in the ongoing battle between the politically powerful union and well-monied charter schools – one in which charter schools such as Success Academy locate in black and brown low-income neighborhoods and continually outperform public schools in wealthier public schools districts.
Steve Zimmerman, c0-director of the Coalition of Community Charter Schools said the organization’s member schools go to great lengths to enroll students with special needs and a number of their schools specialize in SPED services and/or specifically target the least advantaged students in New York City.
“There are indeed persistent issues regarding equitable enrollment of disadvantaged students across all of public education in NYC and we’ll do a better job of resolving these issues when we stop demonizing the various sectors and start to address problems collaboratively. Punitive legislation is not a good place to start,” said Zimmerman.