Uh oh: De Blasio’s war on charter schools begins

Robby Soave Reporter
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New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio–who vowed to roll back the school choice reforms pushed by his predecessor, Michael Bloomberg–is now making good on his campaign promise to kick out several charter schools attempting to relocate onto district property.

Bloomberg, an Independent and supporter of expanding school choice for parents, had agreed to let three schools run by the successful Success Academies charter company relocate onto district grounds. Some traditional public schools have enough room to share space with charter schools, and Bloomberg believed cohabitation would help the city’s nascent charter movement and provide students with better education options.

Not so, according to de Blasio, a progressive Democrat and fierce supporter of teachers unions and the traditional public school model. (RELATED: It begins: New NYC schools chancellor will push ‘progressive agenda’)

Carmen Farina, de Blasio’s chancellor of schools, has decided to rescind the cohabitation agreements with as many as nine charter schools–a move that de Blasio “wholeheartedly” supported, according to Capital New York.

“Obviously the leadership on this came from the Department of Education and [schools] chancellor [Carmen] Farina, but I agree wholeheartedly with her decision,” said de Blasio in a statement. “We were handed a series of last-minute moves by the Bloomberg administration approving a number of co-locations in a way that I think was ill-advised but, you know, we’re all mature around here.”

According to de Blasio, charter/public school cohabitation is “abhorrent.”

“I’m not going to mince words about what I feel about how the Bloomberg administration made decisions on co-locations,” he said. “I think it was abhorrent.”

Nina Rees, president of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, said de Blasio’s decision was an outright attack on the best interests of poor and minority students.

“This is an unjustified attack on the city’s most vulnerable youth—93 percent of students in charter schools in NYC are minorities and 73 percent are low-income,” she said in a statement to The Daily Caller. “These children and parents don’t deserve to have the rug pulled out from under their feet. De Blasio should immediately reconsider this decision and put the interests of the city’s children first.”

Joy Pullmann, managing editor of School Reform News and a research fellow at the Heartland Institute, said de Blasio’s anti-reform attitude is disappointing, though not unexpected.

“I think it’s a crying shame that a candidate who claims to fight for the little guy is here willing to squash a potential lifeline for needy kids to score political points,” she told The Daily Caller.

Success Academies are run by Eva Moskowitz, with whom de Blasio has frequently clashed. They sat on the city council together in the 1980s, and de Blasio has specifically invoked Moskowitz when vocalizing his opposition to charter/public school cohabitation.

“There is no way in hell that Eva Moskowitz should get free rent, O.K.?” de Blasio said, according to the New Yorker.

The disagreement underscores how badly NYC public schools are mismanaged, according to Pullmann.

“There’s the question of how non-charter public schools have so much extra space they can run two schools in one spot,” she said. “Obviously, that suggests mismanagement of the space available–it’s silly to have schools at half-capacity when space is at a premium.”

De Blasio is also expected to start charging increased rent to many of the city’s charter schools.

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