Bill de Blasio Modifies Charter School Expansion in New York City!

Dear Commons Community

Mayor Bill de Blasio, seeking to curb the influence of outside providers of education, said yesterday that he would block three charter schools from using space inside New York City public school buildings while leaving untouched a majority of 49 plans rushed through by his predecessor, Michael Bloomberg at the end of his tenure as mayor.  As reported in the New York Times:

“Under the plan, Mr. de Blasio would reverse the decision of his predecessor, Michael R. Bloomberg, to provide free real estate to the schools so that they could open new programs this fall. The schools had already hired principals and teachers and were in the midst of recruiting students.

Still, Mr. de Blasio, who was a strident critic of charter schools during his bid for mayor last year, showed signs of compromise. In reviewing 49 proposals to share school space approved under Mr. Bloomberg, he left untouched a majority of plans affecting charter schools.

In explaining the changes, city officials noted that some plans approved by Mr. Bloomberg would have required elementary school students to attend class inside high school buildings, and others would have required cutting programs for students with disabilities.

Marion Fleming and other parents at Success Academy Harlem 4, one of the schools that will be unable to move into a public school building, expressed frustration at the decision on Thursday.

“There was a rush to make these decisions by the previous administration,” Mr. de Blasio told reporters on Thursday. “We decided that some of these were not fair, did not make sense, and we took action.”

In limbo since Mr. de Blasio’s victory in November, many charter school leaders were relieved that the new mayor had left most of their programs intact. Some worried about uncertainties ahead. Mr. de Blasio has pledged to charge rent to charter schools, and he has said he will deny, at least temporarily, future requests to use space inside public school buildings — a lifeline for many charter schools given the high costs of real estate in the city.

James Merriman, chief executive of the New York City Charter School Center, said he was disappointed in Mr. de Blasio’s decision on the three schools. “All of these schools were ready to give children a rigorous education in safe environments,” he said in a statement. “Now it seems that they cannot.”

Two of the three schools were proposed by Success Academy Charter Schools, a nonprofit group, and without the public space will most likely be unable to open. Success Academy, which was also involved in the plan to expand the third school, is run by Eva S. Moskowitz, a former city councilwoman whom Mr. de Blasio frequently criticized during the mayoral campaign. He singled out Ms. Moskowitz in expressing his frustration with education in the city, declaring last year: “She has to stop being tolerated, enabled, supported.”

In a statement on Thursday, Ms. Moskowitz said she was startled by the decision — “no parent should have to go through this” — and later spoke to hundreds of parents, students and staff members at Success Academy Harlem 4, the third school affected. She has estimated that the mayor’s plan would affect about 600 students, who are likely to attend public schools instead.”

Mayor de Blasio is right in reviewing these “rushed to implement” arrangements and is showing a great deal of moderation and compromise in reaching his decision about the placement of these schools.  He should be congratulated with the balance that he and Carmen Farina are showing as they try to put the entire public school system on the right track.


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