New York has been granted a reprieve in the Race to the Top. Washington has named it one of 16 states entering a final round for as much as $700 million each in education reform funding, despite Albany's failure to lift a cap on charter schools. When the state has $1.1 billion in school-aid cuts on the table, we shouldn't let this second chance from Washington pass.
It's up to the State Legislature to craft the compromise it failed to achieve in January, as New York educators were submitting the state's funding application. Even this late, a law change would send a pro-reform message to Washington.
President Barack Obama said this week that he wants to make Race to the Top funding a pillar of his national education overhaul. The money is to reward excellence in teaching, rescue failing schools and encourage high-performing charter schools.
Albany failed to reach a compromise after a bill with several charter-killing provisions was championed by teachers unions and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. Those provisions should be stripped, and the bill should retain what most can agree on, including doubling the cap on charters to 400 and better transparency for charter schools' finances and admissions.
To qualify as a Race to the Top finalist, a state needed at least 400 of 500 points; now that New York has reached the top tier, the extra 40 points that come with charter school expansion could push the state closer to the top. Albany should show uncommon good sense and make it happen. hN