Foundation for Education Reform and Accountability

Albany Stands in Way of Real School Reform

District Gets “D” and Ranks Near Bottom of Study’s List

Charter School Sector Only Bright Spot

For Immediate Release: August 25, 2010

Contact: B. Jason Brooks, Director of Research
(518) 383-2598


The Albany city school district fails miserably to support an environment friendly to education reform, according to a new report released by a national panel of education-reform experts through the Washington D.C.-based Thomas B. Fordham Institute, an education policy think tank.  The report America’s Best (and Worst) Cities for School Reform gave Albany a letter-grade of D and ranked 23rd in a study of the nation’s 25 largest cities plus five smaller cities labeled “hotbeds of reform.”

Cited as particularly distressful, the researchers flunked Albany for the hostility of the district toward real reform and for the city’s lack of a sufficiently sizable pool of expert education talent.

In sharp contrast, however, the study ranked Albany – the smallest city in the study – sixth in “charter environment” and gave it a grade of B, falling behind only New Orleans, Washington D.C., San Francisco, Phoenix, and San Jose.  While the study praises Albany’s “vibrant and growing charter sector,” it notes that “a recalcitrant district and tepid municipal environment do not provide entrepreneurs with proper support.”  The study’s experts also said that the lack of state aid for charter school facilities hurts the charter-based reform climate, keeping Albany from getting a grade of A here.

“National education-reform experts now confirm what we’ve seen for years on the ground here in Albany,” said Brian Backstrom, Vice President of the Foundation for Education Reform & Accountability.  “Rather than tackling problems head-on and embracing the radical reforms needed, the Albany school district has only tinkered when overhaul is needed, and too often has created obstacles to those actually working to improve the educational climate for the city’s school children.  Fortunately, at least one ray of hope – the charter school sector – has pierced the black cloud over the district and is providing promise and academic success to one-fourth of the city’s school children.”

Other areas in the report ranking Albany according to its hospitability to education reform include the following:

The Thomas B. Fordham Institute’s full study may be found online at


The Foundation for Education Reform & Accountability (FERA) is an independent, nonprofit, research organization dedicated to improving education in New York State by promoting accountability, stimulating innovation, and supporting school-choice efforts across the state