Taking Back America By Taking Back Our Schools
(Editor: www.thereportcard.org In a stunning reversal, Mayor de Blasio, who ran on a pledge to the Teacher’s Union to shut down charter schools, was rebuked by fellow Democrat Gov. Cuomo and the NY State Legislature. Minority parents took to the streets after de Blasio announced he was shuttering 3 charters and planning to squeeze charters financially. The charters have succeed as the monopoly public schools have failed miserably to educate students, while spending about $19,000 per year in the process).
By MARA GAY Wall Street Journal
New York City charter schools have scored a major victory under a deal brokered in Albany that could make it one of the most charter-friendly cities in the country.
Under the agreement, hammered out by Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the state Legislature over the weekend, New York City would be forced to find rent-free space for charter schools in government buildings. If there is no room in public school buildings, the city would be required to pay up to $40 million for the charter to rent private space.
The measure, which was tucked into the state budget, also rejected an initial plan to deny three charter schools space by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, a Democrat who swept into office Jan. 1 with promises of reining in charters. New York state lawmakers passed the bill late Monday night.
The requirement to provide space for charters in public schools or pay for private space is aimed at charter schools in New York City, where finding space is particularly challenging. The legislation, however, affects charters statewide. All charters in New York state, for example, will receive a per-pupil funding increase of $500 during the next three years.
Advocates said the changes bring New York to the forefront among states in accommodating charter schools, which are run by private organizations and receive government funding. In California, for example, school districts are required to accommodate some public charter schools within public school buildings or reimburse them for some of the cost of renting private space, said Colin Miller, the vice president of policy at the California Charter Schools Association. Even there, a school district also can charge rent or a space-sharing fee under the law, which would be banned in New York. “We think this will embolden other states to do the same,” said Nina Rees, president and CEO of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, a Washington, D.C., advocacy group. She said Colorado, Florida and Hawaii are considering legislation to provide better facilities for charter schools. The New York protections, she said, were “pretty unprecedented.”
Charter school proponents contend the schools—often unfettered by teachers-union rules—can provide higher quality education with a more flexible curriculum. Opponents maintain that the schools siphon resources from struggling public-school systems.
The law represents a reversal of fortune for Mr. de Blasio, who had vowed to focus resources on regular public schools and end what he saw as favoritism for the city’s 183 charter schools that educate about 6% of the city’s 1.1 million students. That number is expected to grow to up to 10% by 2017, some charter advocates predicted.
The de Blasio administration in February rejected the applications of three charter schools to share space with regular public schools, all of them run by Eva Moskowitz, a former city councilwoman who has become the public face of the charter school movement in New York. Mayoral spokesman Wiley Norvell said the administration “was already moving in a new direction on space” before the budget deal was struck, and added that the administration accepted most of the charter school co-locations approved under former MayorMichael Bloomberg last year.
His administration also approved more than a dozen charter school space-sharing arrangements, known as co-locations.
Mr. Cuomo, a Democrat who hadn’t previously been a significant voice in the debate, weighed in, vowing to “save charter schools” in New York City. Mr. Cuomo helped insert language protecting charter schools into legislation authorizing the state budget.
Although the deal on charters has been seen as a political loss for the mayor, a spokesman for Mr. de Blasio said the mayor’s position on charters has been “mischaracterized.”
David Bloomfield, an education and law professor at the CUNY Grad Center and Brooklyn College, who has been critical of charter school co-locations, said the new charter school protections would be a blow to Mr. de Blasio’s agenda.
Under the deal, the city would be required to contribute 20% of the per-pupil cost toward a private space for charter schools if space within a Department of Education building isn’t available.
“It turns de Blasio’s campaign promise on its head. Instead of Eva Moskowitz paying him rent, he’ll be paying her rent,” Mr. Bloomfield said.