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City charter schools gearing up for February's advocacy efforts

Students at a charter high school who have been learning about state politics evidently think Gov. Andrew Cuomo asked the right questions during his State of the State address earlier this month.

During the speech, Cuomo argued that students are the only people in schools who don’t have advocates in Albany. Who should represent them? he asked. His answer: “This year, I will take a second job — consider me the lobbyist for the students.”

That answer satisfied students the Renaissance Charter High School for Innovation, who created a short video recapping Cuomo’s comments.

“Who’s OUR lobbyist?” one student asks. Later, she says, “My governor, my lobbyist.”

The video is part of the school’s preparation for Charter Advocacy Day on Feb. 7, according to Principal Nicholas Tishuk. It follows another video, about cyberbullying, produced earlier this month after legislators visited the school.

Each year, charter school students, parents, and teachers caravan to Albany for a long day of pushing legislators to support the schools, which now enroll nearly 50,000 students in New York City.

This year’s goal, according to the New York City Charter Schools Center’s online calendar, is to “share positive stories about charter schools all across the state and work with the legislature to ensure that parents have a voice in the system.”

Last year, more than 2,000 charter school parents, teachers, and students rallied in Albany for facilities funding. The year before that, they sat in on a budget hearing and took aim at a state law that capped the number of charter schools in the state at 200. Later that spring, legislators raised the cap during a spree of education legislation aimed at boosting the state’s chances of winning federal Race to the Top dollars.

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