The Parents of the poor and mostly minority children in Harlem who benefit from New York City’s charter school program are fighting back against newly elected New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio who has been planning to block its expansion and defund the successful program.
Last week, De Blasio decided to deny space to nine schools, three of them run by Success Academy Charter Schools – a group run by former City Councilwoman Eva Moskowitz. That move infuriated charter school parents.
Now, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is stepping in to save the New York City’s charter program. And he’s planning to put the state’s money where his mouth is.
Gov. Cuomo told business leaders that the state would step in to pay the rent of city charter schools denied free space under a crackdown by Mayor De Blasio, according to two sources. They said the governor pledged to support legislation that would give charters extra money to lease new facilities if they get the boot from city buildings.
Today, Albany, New York residents will witness two simultaneous rallies. One rally will be held in support of Mayor de Blasio’s tax-the-rich plan for funding pre-K and after school programs. And the other rally will be against De Blasio’s move to destroy charter schools.
In recent years, school choice has become a national bellwether. And in New York it has managed to dissolve partisan allegiances, pitting civil rights groups against their own constituents and Democratic mayors against Democratic governors.
“Charter schools are public schools, too – we need space to grow,” said Harlem Children’s Zone founder Geoffrey Canada. Canada said that in front of a crowd of angry parents and protesters who were rallying against the NAACP’s decision to join The United Federation of Teachers in a 2011 lawsuit aimed at blocking co-location and the expansion of New York City charter schools.
With public schools in heavily urban population centers failing across the country, charter schools are an increasingly popular option. But as charters grow, the influence and membership of teacher’s unions shrink.
The teachers unions, who after siding with his primary opponent, heavily backed Bill De Blasio during his mayoral race. And many see his war on charter schools as political payback and promise-keeping.
Surely this issue isn’t going away anytime soon.
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