NY’s Cuomo, de Blasio at Odds over Education Choices For City, State

Recently, Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo spoke at a breakfast meeting for the Harvard Club in Midtown Manhattan, attended by a group of Wall Street “movers and shakers.”  Carl Campanile of the New York Post was told by one of the event’s organizers that Cuomo shared with the group that the state of New York would pay for spaces to house any charter schools that might be dislocated by Mayor Bill de Blasio.  Cuomo said that he would support the financing of private locations for any charter schools that were pushed out of their public school venues.

Charters currently receive operating funds from the state based on the number of students they serve. But they don’t get state money for facilities, which is why most of the city’s 183 charters share space with public schools.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo pitted himself against Democratic Mayor of New York City on March 4 at the State Capitol.  De Blasio was addressing the legislature to approve a bill for universal pre-kindergarten funding and after-school programs for middle-schoolers. Jonathan Lemire of the Associated Press reported that while de Blasio was speaking inside the capitol building, on the capitol steps Cuomo spoke to charter school proponents. The charter school advocates, made up of well-heeled patrons, organized the rally in response to former Mayor de Blasio’s reversal of a decision made by former Mayor Michael Bloomberg to give three charter schools rent-free space in public schools. Cuomo is intent on supporting, providing space for, and creating funding for charter schools in the state.

De Blasio has run into roadblock after roadblock at the state Capitol. He needs the approval of the state Legislature to raise taxes but many of Albany’s powerbrokers have given no sign they are willing to do so in an election year, Lemire says.

Mayor de Blasio wants to garner funding for the pre-kindergarten program and middle school after school programming by using tax money paid by his wealthy New York City constituents.  Governor Cuomo say this is not fair to the state while the affluent NYC citizenry generates a substantial revenue, the less wealthy in the rest of the state do not have such an abundant tax base.  Cuomo would rather see the pre-kindergarten program funded by the state.

Lemire states that, “Despite frequently describing themselves as longtime friends, neither Cuomo nor de Blasio has publicly suggested much of a willingness to compromise.”

Another interesting subheading that pervades this debate is the on-going friction between Democratic Mayor de Blasio and former Democratic New York City Council member, Eva Moskowitz, founder of the Success Academy network of charter schools.  The three spaces taken away from charter schools were Moskowitz’s Success Academy charters. De Blasio and Moskowitz are long-time rivals. Moskowitz was one of the organizers of the state house pro-charter rally. De blasio has accused Moskowitz of being against the pre-k program he is so earnestly backing.

“That claim is utterly false, and there is no basis for it. We support pre-K, and we are going to march in favor of good educational opportunities for all children,” Moskowitz told Hizzoner.