New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio issued a “moratorium” on charter schools almost as soon as he arrived in office, and now he is making good on his promise to limit parents’ choice of schools. The New York Post reports that de Blasio is blocking the opening or expansion of three schools in the area, leaving some students in limbo.
The Post reports that the Success Academy Charter school group had received approval from Mayor Mike Bloomberg to operate rent-free in city buildings for the 2014-2015 school year, but de Blasio pushed for a review of that approval that caused the Department of Education to rescind it. While some were in separate buildings, other school expansions were approved in buildings that housed non-charter public schools; de Blasio is forbidding them all.
What this means for students is still not fully clear, though some of the expansions were granted to schools already having too many students for their buildings. One school, the Success Academy Middle School, is losing permission to use government buildings to teach students. The fifth and sixth graders attending the academy will have to find a different location to go to school or be reincorporated into the public school system.
The move has outraged parents and charter school activists. Eva Moskowitz, the CEO of Success Academy Charter Schools, is threatening to sue the city to get the space back for her students. Noting that she expects the announcement of permission for the schools to be rescinded, Moskowitz decried the move as “tragic, unfair, and, we believe, illegal.” She noted that the organization plans to “take the appropriate legal action.”
Moskowitz is also organizing a trip to Albany for supporters of charters schools from New York City. Charter School support groups are expecting to rally in the state capital in support of school choice, and parents of students in the charter school system are encouraged to attend, perhaps to increase the tension between Albany and New York City.
Mayor de Blasio has clashed with fellow progressives on his approach to education multiple times in his short tenure. Having promised as a candidate a program that would allow for universal access to pre-kindergarten education for New Yorkers paid for by a tax increase on wealthier residents, de Blasio refuses to give up on raising taxes, even when the proposition is glaringly obsolete; Governor Andrew Cuomo has offered to use state plans to implement the program and spare the city a tax increase, but de Blasio has not backed down.
De Blasio’s move against charter schools today is a continuation of his approach to school choice since the beginning of his tenure. At the beginning of this month, de Blasio proposed charging charter schools rent to use public buildings they were already using to teach students. Charter schools have been sharing resources with public schools to keep the costs low for taxpayers; an elimination of school choice might result in the need for a tax increase to pay for all the new students being shuffled in from a defunct charter school.