Big Apple Charter Battle Is Political . . . and Personal

 

New York City’s Sandinista mayor Bill de Blasio blazed into office in January boasting that he wouldn’t wait to aggressively implement his progressive policy agenda. Yet, two months in, he’s had trouble putting points on the board.

De Blasio’s campaign promise to tax the city’s highest-earners and use the money to pay for universal pre-K went all pear-shaped when New York’s Democratic governor Andrew Cuomo unexpectedly offered to pick up the tab without raising taxes. The new mayor’s big plan to crack down on the Big Apple’s worst drivers and make the city more bike and pedestrian friendly hit a snag when his official chauffeured SUV was caught on tape blasting through stop signs and speeding. And the man formerly known as Warren Wilhelm, Jr.’s chronic lateness for official functions has infuriated his natural allies—the City Hall press corps.

Not a great start for the big fella.

But today de Blasio finally made good on one of his key promises during the campaign—to wage full scale war on the city’s school children by waging full scale war on the city’s charter schools. Specifically, he rescinded an agreement negotiated by his predecessor Mayor Michael Bloomberg allowing three Success Academy charter schools to “co-locate” inside city-run schools. Charter schools—which are independently run private schools—are provided with operating funds by New York State but not capital funds nor, typically, a building in which to locate. They therefore either must get free space from the city or raise money from private donors to pay for a building. New York City real estate is so expensive that charters often have no choice but to co-locate.

Charter schools like the Success Academies drive critics crazy in part because they blow the city’s traditional public schools out of the water on annual state tests. But “co-location” makes critics absolutely apoplectic, because, when one school is clearly outperforming another it’s far easier to lie, obfuscate, and pretend it’s not happening when the great school isn’t under the same roof as the failing one. Often, critics charge that co-locating charters has a negative effect on the students in the traditional public school. There are horror stories aplenty about students being forced to eat lunch at 9 a.m. because of the overcrowding.  But my Manhattan Institute colleague Marcus Winters has just thrown cold water on the claim that there are any negative effects stemming from co-location.  

In fairness, today’s announcement was not just about co-location. In order to understand de Blasio’s hatred of charter schools it helps to know a little about his hatred of Eva Moskowitz, the force of nature who runs the Success Academy network. De Blasio and Moskowitz, both Democrats, served together on the New York City council in the early 2000s. They go way back. And there is evidently some serious bad blood. She has been talked about as a potential future candidate for mayor. In June, during the campaign, de Blasio invoked her by name, saying, “There is no way in hell that Eva Moskowitz should get free rent, O.K.?”

Seems like this whole thing is maybe a little bit personal? Just a guess.

Either way, de Blasio’s allies in the teachers unions hate Moskowitz (and others like her) because she has successfully exposed their favorite lie—that kids in New York’s poorest neighborhoods can’t learn without a credentialed, unionized teacher in the classroom. So this is about co-location, but it’s also about getting even with Eva Moskowitz.

Now, Ricochet people, I know what you’ll say: Why should I care about this? New Yorkers voted for this guy and his silly policies, let them live with the consequences. Right?

You are right. I can’t deny it. But you should care about the fate of charter schools, whether in New York City or elsewhere, because they are a conservative public policy idea that has proved successful. Charter schools should be expanded and exported not shut down and demonized. A threat to charter schools anywhere is a threat to charter schools everywhere.

So you should be concerned about this. Someone has figured out how to scare Sandinstas like Bill de Blasio and his union allies. Someone has figured out how to educate New York City’s kids despite their economic circumstances, despite their problems at home, and despite the previous failures of the educational system.

That’s something we should all care about. 

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  1. Profile Photo Inactive
    @RobininIthaca

    Our local charter high school just managed to renew its charter here in the utopia of Ithaca.  Because they are such a significant drain on the public school purse-strings (the same district that bought hundreds of iPads and “Smart boards” – many unused), the local school board voted 5-1 to actively fight the renewal citing an “Article 78” rule that the state charter agency is not following its own rules for renewing the charter.

    The only vote against came from the lone black member of the board who stated that the point of charter schools is to operate independently of the local school district where they reside, and went on to say that the district has better uses for its time.  Clearly, such kernels of wisdom went unheeded.

    • #1
  2. Profile Photo Inactive
    @LookAway

    Frankly the only reason it concerns me is because those New Yorkers that flee to Virginia do not leave their liberal appetites in New York. 

    • #2
  3. Profile Photo Member
    @Ansonia

    What can we do about it ? (I agree with you, by the way. It’s evil and tragic that these kids are having their time to learn wasted.)

    • #3
  4. Profile Photo Member
    @Larry3435

    Now, Ricochet people, I know what you’ll say: Why should I care about this? New Yorkers voted for this guy and his silly policies, let them live with the consequences. Right?

    You are right. I can’t deny it. But you should care about the fate of charter schools, whether in New York City or elsewhere, because they are a conservative public policy idea that has proved successful.

    And then, there are kids in the schools, right?  Not even voters.  Just kids?

    • #4
  5. Profile Photo Inactive
    @KayofMT

    Surely the Koch Brothers or some other conservative billionaires have buildings in NYC in which 3 little schools could relocate?

    • #5
  6. Profile Photo Member
    @ThroatWobblerMangrove
    Robb Penney

    New York City overwhelmingly voted this despot in so as Detective John McClain said in ‘Die Hard’- “Welcome to the party pal!” · 10 hours ago

    Not even 25% of registered voters participated in the 2013 election in NYC.  While De Blasio trounced Lhota, he did so by getting 800,000 votes in a city of over 8 million people.  Hopefully after this tin Stalin tries to ruin things, many more of the voters who sat at home last year will wake up in the next election.  (As a NYC resident, I tend to doubt it, though.)

    • #6
  7. Profile Photo Member
    @FordPenney

    Matthew- we can’t care more than the people of New York and they elected the dictator they have. If they wish to be ‘driven’ to the yoke then they have succeeded with their elected officials.

    This won’t make a difference until the ‘people’ feel the whip hand while in the yoke. And if there aren’t enough ‘good people’ to help them revive their sense of self then they have doomed themselves and my caring is simply the tears of watching a tragedy unfold.

    New York City overwhelmingly voted this despot in so as Detective John McClain said in ‘Die Hard’- “Welcome to the party pal!”

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  8. Profile Photo Inactive
    @NickStuart

    School choice, an issue Republicans could campaign on? Nah.

    • #8
  9. Profile Photo Member
    @WesternChauvinist

    All part of the Democrats’ War on Kids. Mr. C. and I just filled out petitions to keep our daughter’s charter high school, the number one performing high school in Colorado and one of the top in the country, from having to adopt Common Core and the idiotic testing mandates that accompany it.

    I don’t know if it’s some kind of right-wing conspiracy, because I just learned recently that Hillsdale provides my daughter’s high school curriculum. Yes, that Hillsdale! But, the central planners in Denver think they know better how to educate our kids. Did I mention I loathe central planning? 

    de Blasio. Pheh.

    • #9
  10. Profile Photo Reagan
    @GLDIII

    From a New Yorker who knows best…

    After he was defeated for re-election in 1989, New York Mayor Ed Koch was asked if he would ever run for office again.  “No,” Koch replied.  “The people have spoken … and they must be punished.”

    It is a shame that the children bear the burden of their adults indifference to their welfare.

    • #10
  11. Profile Photo Inactive
    @Jackal

    That’s something we should all care about. 

    But really, New York parents have to be the ones to care about it, right?  But the rich parents will still be able to get their kids into the good public schools, and will gladly leave the poorer kids with Marcella Sills.

    • #11
  12. Profile Photo Member
    @

    As a principle, yes, we should care. But we’re talking about NYC, right?

    • #12
  13. Profile Photo Inactive
    @ParisParamus

    Maybe Kaiser Wilhelm (Mayor’s real name) will go so extreme that he will go nowhere?

    • #13
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