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Sampson Has Fingers Crossed on Race to the Top
January 19th, 2010

Senate Democrats were unable to put together the votes they needed to pass the education bill sponsored by Senate Majority Conference Leader John Sampson and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver so they packed it in for the night.

The Education Department sent an application to Washington for Race to the Top Funding without any improvements from legislators, and therefore is less likely to qualify for up to $700 million in federal education funding.

In a statement, Sampson said he hopes the application is successful as is. If it isn’t he plans to apply again later.

“We are working towards a bipartisan, bicameral solution today,” said Sampson in a statement. “We support the State Education Departments application as it stands, and hope our federal officials can help us secure Phase One financing. If not, we will reapply for Phase Two, and try once again later this year to bridge the partisan divide to get New Yorks school children the funding they need, and property taxpayers the relief they deserve.”

Supporters of the Sampson/Silver legislation say it would have increased the state’s chances in receiving up to $700 million in federal Race to the Top education funding. Critics , including Gov. David Paterson, said the bill would have only modestly increased the number of charter schools allowed in the state, while actually putting the control of charter schools in a body friendly to the legislature and generally opposed to charter schools.

Here is Sampson’s full statement:

“Running a race in the wrong direction gets you nowhere. Race to the Top is about competition and we cannot put our children at a competitive disadvantage by passing imprudent legislation.

Nothing is more important than our shared Constitutional obligation to a sound, basic, and quality education. The bill I sponsored with Assembly Speaker Silver would have maximized our eligibility for federal funds, while bringing greater transparency, accountability, and parental input to the charter school process.

Education reform and advancement has always come in phases, each step building upon the last. It is unfortunate some chose to deny our state the tools it needs to build a foundation for long-term education improvements, but we remain committed to investing in our children and our future.

We are working towards a bipartisan, bicameral solution today. We support the State Education Departments application as it stands, and hope our federal officials can help us secure Phase One financing. If not, we will reapply for Phase Two, and try once again later this year to bridge the partisan divide to get New Yorks school children the funding they need, and property taxpayers the relief they deserve.”

By on January 19, 2010, 5:51 pm
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