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New York's Governor Lays Out Big Plans for Expanding School Choice

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New York Governor Andrew Cuomo proposed some major school choice expansion plans in his State of the State address Wednesday.

For starters, he said he wants to create a single, statewide cap on charters and raise it by 100. This will benefit charters in New York City, which is a little over 20 schools away from hitting its regional cap.

Almost all things charter-related are contentious in the Big Apple, where charter and district schools are often forced to share buildings in a city with limited, affordable space. Co-locations and the growing charter sector's need for buildings have been the subject of a long, public fight between New York City's mayor, Bill de Blasio, and Eva Moskowitz, the founder of the fast-expanding Success Academy charter school network .

In his speech, Cuomo also pushed for creating "anti-creaming" legislation that would ensure charter schools are admitting a proportionate number of students with special needs. Charter school opponents often claim that charters only admit—or cream—the best students while quietly and illegally pushing harder-to-educate kids away.

Cuomo also proposed creating education tax-credits which, as the name suggests, allow people and businesses to claim tax-credits on donations made to educational scholarship organizations. Those organizations then dole out money to eligible students from low- to mid-income families to use toward private school tuition, among other things. Donations to public schools, school improvement organizations, and local education funds would also be eligible for tax credits under Cuomo's plan.

Education tax-credits are opposed by New York's teachers' union, and the governor has proposed tying the controversial program to a state DREAM Act to improve its chances of passing, according to the Daily News. The DREAM Act would provide state aid to college students whose parents are undocumented immigrants and are otherwise not eligible.

Tax credits are seen as a potential lifeline to struggling private religious schools. A tax-credit bill failed to get passed last legislative session, and many supporters blamed Cuomo for knocking the legislation off track when he did not include the tax credit in the state's budget last year.   

For a more detailed breakdown of all the education-related items the governor addressed in his State of the State speech, hop over to the State EdWatch blog.


Eva Moskowitz: Charters Drive Improvement in N.Y.C.'s Regular Schools

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