Thousands of charter school supporters took to City Hall in Brooklyn this week to demand that New York City Mayor de Blasio increase the number of charter schools allowed to help put an end to educational inequality.
In all, over 18,000 parents, children, and charter school advocates came to Cadman Plaza in Brooklyn wearing red t-shirts that read “Don’t Steal Possible.” The group was seeking better schooling options for poor neighborhoods.
“We are asking our city’s mayor and our city’s leaders to put an end to education inequality,” said Joe Herrera, of Families for Excellent Schools, a pro-charter group, which organized the rally.
Attendees argued that the number of failing schools is significantly higher in high poverty neighborhoods, while children who live in wealthier areas are able to make use of better schools, writes Kevin Fasick for The New York Post.
“We would love for the Mayor to eliminate any barriers to school choice,” said Herrera. “High quality charter schools help close the achievement gap and they are definitely part of the solution.”
Although former Mayor Michael Bloomberg fought for the expansion of charter schools in the area, Mayor de Blasio has not held the same supportive position, arguing that many schools operate without teacher unions. These schools receive state money, but are privately operated.
A spokesman for Mayor de Blasio added that he has plans for the education system in the area which includes a universal reading support system for 2nd graders, college-level coursework in areas like algebra and computer science, and increasing the number of available Advanced Placement courses. “Mayor de Blasio is focused on ensuring that every child, in every classroom, has a future that isn’t limited by their zip code,” said spokesman Wiley Norvell.
Norvell added that Mayor de Blasio has successfully implemented a Universal Pre-Kindergarten program for all four-year-olds in the area, writes Lisa Colangelo for The Daily News.
Meanwhile, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., and possible future opponent to de Blasio, said he would “always be a supporter of charter schools.” He went on to request that de Blasio give area children more options for their education, writes Michael Grynbaum for The New York Times.
“Mr. Mayor, what we’re saying here today is this: The public-schools system is your system. Charter schools are a part of that system, and all we want from you, Mr. Mayor, is to treat them equitably,” Diaz told the crowd.
Grammy-winning singer Jennifer Hudson also made an appearance, exciting the crowd just prior to a march across the Brooklyn Bridge to city hall.