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Heastie voices doubts on school takeovers

ALBANY -   Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie voiced strong doubts Thursday about Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s plan to have the state take over underperforming public schools and possibly convert them to privately run charter schools.

    Heastie said there are a variety of reasons why underperforming schools – often located in high poverty areas – are struggling, not necessarily because of education bureaucracy.

  “There’s, really, a lot of reasons why those schools are struggling,” Heastie said Thursday after a budget meeting with the state Senate. “But this idea that we should close schools to open up charter schools I don’t think is an accurate way to go, particularly since charter schools sometimes, you know, have problems as well.”

  Cuomo, who has continued his battle with teachers’ unions, has included some hot-button education proposals in his $142 billion budget, including changing the teacher evaluation system and teacher tenure. He also proposed authorizing more charter schools and allowing a quicker state take over of so-called “failing” schools.

  “We want to turn these schools around, but just blaming the teachers and saying we want to close the schools and open up charter schools I think is unfair,” Heastie said.

  Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) has supported Cuomo’s bid to increase charter schools.

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