Black and Latino leaders of charter schools in New York City are backing the passing of a bill that would allow more schools, led by minorities, to open. The bill would require that the schools operate under the control of people from “historically underrepresented communities.”
The Public Education Racial Equity and Diversity Act (READ Act) is backed by the Black, Latinx, Asian Charter Collaborative (BLACC). Sponsored by State Senators Leroy Comrie, Zellnor Myrie, and Kevin Parker, the bill would see the state charter school cap lifted to add 336 more institutions. This would increase the cap from the current 460 to 796.
The READ Act will require that new charter schools have 51% of their leadership or governing boards made up of people of color. It will also see the creation of a state charter school commission. The addition of more teachers of color will be part of the Read Act, incentivizing them by exempting them from paying state and local taxes. The legislation also proposes providing minority teachers with college loan forgiveness.
When discussing the READ Act, Senator Parker said, “The Public Education system is filled with inequities, the Charter System is no different. The READ Act is a good first step in addressing those inequities by infusing diversity into the leadership of Charter Organizations and encouraging cultural competency. I am proud to be a co-sponsor of this important legislation and will be working hard this session to make it law.”
State Senator Comrie wrote in support of the legislation saying, “These changes are necessary to foster an educational framework in New York that ensures racial equity and diversity in educational leadership.”
Miram Raccah is the CEO of BLACC, which represents more than 20 charter schools with 12,000 students. BLACC supports the READ Act. “Racial equity is the way forward to get the cap lifted. The legislature is very focused on equity. That is the way forward to benefit students,” Raccah said. “We want people who run charter schools to be more representative of the students they serve. We want to incentivize the hiring of principals and teachers who are people of color.”
Charter schools have become the solution for many families’ educational needs. They currently enroll 142,500 students, which equates to 15% of public school students. According to the NY Post, 90% of charter school students are Black and Latino. Charter schools typically have a longer school day and academic year. Their students perform better academically than students in traditional public schools.