Charter Schools Advocacy Group Outraged by De Blasio's Decision to Limit School Choice

The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools states it is outraged at New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s decision to limit school choice by “kicking out” four charter schools from their school buildings, leaving at least 700 children without a school in the coming school year.

In a press release Thursday, the charter schools advocacy group said that one of the charter schools is currently open and serving children, while the other three were scheduled to open this coming fall.

Among the schools is Success Academy, not only one of the top performing schools in New York City, but also in the entire state.

Nina Rees, President of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, said in the statement:

Kicking one of the state’s top-performing schools out of its building and leaving three other schools without a building is nothing short of outrageous. At the school already serving children, Success Academy’s Harlem 4, 83 percent of the students passed the state math exam last year, putting it in the top one percent of all schools in the state. Why would anyone want to stop that kind of student achievement?

“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,” said Rees. “Among the country’s 10 largest cities, all other mayors (8 of whom are Democrats) have embraced charter schools as a solution to urban education challenges. It is incomprehensible that Mayor de Blasio would intentionally force hundreds of children out of their schools. He is threatening to take away the most valuable thing we can give to our kids – a quality education.”

“These children and parents don’t deserve to have the rug pulled out from under their feet,” Rees added. “De Blasio should immediately reconsider this decision and put the interests of the city’s children first.”

In an interview with Breitbart News, Todd Ziebarth, Senior Vice President for State Advocacy and Support for the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, said, “At a time when we have urban school districts clamoring for more public school options to close the achievement gap, Mayor de Blasio is going in the opposite direction.”

“De Blasio’s decision is based on ideology and is anything but results-based,” said Ziebarth. “His agenda is to oppose charter schools and, for him, ideology trumps results. Other big city mayors are doing the opposite. The more help we can give to those students from low-income families, the better we can close the achievement gap.”

Ziebarth said that a recent study by the Center for Research on Educational Outcomes at Stanford University found that students who attend charter schools in New York City are faring better in school than their peers who attend traditional district schools.

Currently, there are 70,000 students enrolled in charter schools in New York, and 50,000 more students on waiting lists for charter schools.

Ziebarth added that former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg was one of the nation’s biggest promoters of charter schools.

Critics of charter schools, however, say that they pull funding away from district schools.

Prior to the election last November, de Blasio mapped out his plan to make charter schools pay rent for space in school buildings, while his Republican opponent, Joseph Lhota, said he would double the number of charter schools in New York City, rent-free.

As Breitbart News' Frances Martel reported, Eva Moskowitz, CEO of Success Academy, is now threatening to sue the city to have her space returned for her students. Moskowitz also plans to organize a trip to Albany for charter school supporters to rally in the state capital.

One critic of Moskowitz is education writer Diane Ravitch who refers to Moskowitz as “combative.”

“Moskowitz enjoyed preferential treatment when Michael Bloomberg was mayor and had immediate access to Chancellor Joel Klein,” Ravitch writes at her blog. “Those days are over, as de Blasio has pledged to review all future co-locations and to consult with local communities.”

Ravitch, who frequently writes about the Common Core standards, continues:

Moskowitz issued a statement promising to take her battle for more schools and more funding to Albany, where she has friends in the Legislature and in Governor Cuomo. According to a report by Geoffrey Decker in Chalkbeat, charter advocates–some of whom are on the board of Eva’s chain–have contributed more than $800,000 to Cuomo. Eva will bring busloads of students to Albany with her to impress the Legislature, something that no public school would be permitted to do. In addition, a charter advocacy group called Families for Excellent Schools will mount a multi-million dollar TV campaign to block de Blasio’s efforts to rein in the charter movement.

In 2011, a study by The Independent Budget Office (IBO) that concluded that charter schools obtain more public funding than district schools was criticized by the New York City Department of Education (DOE).

In a letter to the IBO, then-Chancellor Cathleen Black charged that the IBO had suddenly changed its methodology for its study that year, based on “mistaken assumptions,” and reversed its prior conclusions.

Black wrote:

The DOE disagrees with the IBO’s methodology and conclusions in its latest attempt to compare per pupil funding for district school students and charter school students. Charters do not pull a disproportionate amount of funding away from district schools. Rather, charter schools in New York City receive anywhere from $160 to $3100 less per student than district schools.

“We need legislative support for charter schools,” said Ziebarth. “The main person is Gov. Cuomo, and he has been a firm supporter of charter schools as an option.”

“It’s one thing if charter schools were struggling schools,” he added. “But these are among the most successful schools in the state. For the mayor to go after them, it’s just ideological.”


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