Board of Regents Eyes Federal Money for Education Reforms

Albany, NY – The State Board of Regents is moving forward with its application for as much as $700 million in funding from the federal government's new "Race to the Top" program.

The Regents are embarking on a reform agenda that could lead to the creation of more charter schools and link teacher compensation to student performance. But some of the changes the Regents want to make require approval by state legislators. State Assemblyman Sam Hoyt of Buffalo has introduced a bill that would align state law with Race to the Top priorities. The state's application for the federal funding is due by mid January.

State Education Commissioner David Steiner acknowledges the current fiscal climate in New York is making things more difficult for local school districts. But he says the current system leaves too many students ill prepared for college and future employment.

"The status quo is deeply unacceptable," Steiner said. "New York State has historically led the nation through its educational standards and its Regents exams. Now, for the sake of all of our students, we must work with all of our colleagues in the field of education to do so once again."

Steiner is proposing that the number of charter schools in New York be doubled to 400. But there is opposition to that from the Buffalo Board of Education, which is seeking a moratorium on new charters, arguing they're diverting resources from traditional public schools.