Selected readings on US charter schools
New York City mayor Bill de Blasio recently launched the first strike in his war on charter schools. It wasn’t a sneak attack; he’d been telegraphing it for months. But it was still shockingly blunt.
Three charter schools that were already approved for space-sharing agreements with district schools had their approvals – and their classrooms – yanked by the mayor. As a result, two schools planning to open their doors this fall are now in jeopardy and one school already in operation has to scramble to find space for 194 students.
The tragedy is that those 194 students currently go to one of the best schools not just in New York City, but in the entire state of New York. And it’s in Harlem, an area more associated with crushing poverty than with academic excellence.
Success is the reason charters thrive. No one is forced to attend a charter school. Parents choose these public school options because study after study shows that, on the whole, charters do a great job educating kids, especially black and Hispanic children and students from poor families.
This is why the mayors of nine of America’s 10 largest cities – eight of whom are Democrats – have endorsed charters as a way to bring more opportunity to underprivileged neighborhoods. New York’s Democratic governor, Andrew Cuomo, also supports charters. Last week he gave an impassioned speech to a rally organized on behalf of the charter schools targeted by de Blasio.
It’s clear that de Blasio is an outlier – a social-justice Democrat who refuses to acknowledge the extraordinary benefits charter schools bring to children, families and neighborhoods. If the mayor won’t listen to Cuomo and he won’t listen to New York City parents, is it too much to hope that he might follow the lead of President Obama?
In his 2015 budget unveiled last week, the president requested $248 million for the federal Charter Schools Program, which provides vital start-up funding for charter schools. I think the federal government can do more to help good charters get off the ground, and I hope the president and Congress will work together to find more resources for the Charter Schools Program. But Obama’s commitment to charter schools stands in stark contrast to de Blasio’s decision to strip $210 million of charter funding out of New York City’s capital plan and to put a moratorium on any new charters being approved.
At some point, de Blasio should ask himself why he’s one of the few who doesn’t think charter schools are an important factor in reducing inequality and increasing opportunity. For New York students, that moment can’t come soon enough.
Source: US News – by Nina Rees, President and CEO of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools