Charter Rally to Compete with Unions in NY Capital


Success Academy Charter Schools will be holding a political rally in Albany, New York on the same day as that the United Federation of Teachers has planned its own lobbying day in an effort to gain more school funding.

A number of parent rallies have been held over the past few years by the 32-school Success Academy network to display the political power the charter school sector and its parent supporters have within the city.  The tactic has caused a rise in political support after the Bloomberg administration left office and charter schools allies in City Hall have left.

Brooklyn-based charter school network Achievement First is also expected to participate in the rally.

This isn’t the first time that two dueling events have been scheduled on the same day.  Last year the Success rally took place on the same day that Mayor Bill de Blasio and labor groups were holding their own event to advocate for extra funding for pre-kindergarten and after school programs, writes Geoff Decker for Chalkbeat.

One month before the competing rallies, a charter school advocacy day is being planned to take place in Albany by a group of its supporters in an effort to rally for charter-related legislative priorities.

Organized by the New York City Charter School Center and the Northeast Charter Schools Network, the day is scheduled to be held on February 3.  The event is expected to be attended by over 1,200 people, mostly from independent charter schools across the state.

The day will mark the eleventh annual advocacy day for supporters of the movement, but this year it holds even more importance as lobbyists begin to hold more influence over state budget proceedings, writes Eliza Shapiro for Capital New York.

Last year the day marked the unofficial start to the most important legislative session in a decade for charter lobby, as then-Lt. Governor Robert Duffy announced the intentions of the Cuomo administration concerning charter schools, which were in direct opposition to Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Currently, the administration is pressing for education reform in the state on a number of issues including raising the cap on charter schools, push district mergers, strengthen teacher evaluations and give control of schools to mayors.

Cuomo and Senate Republicans support charter schools, and are looking to increase funding offered to such schools from the state, who they believe are not offering as many resources as traditional schools receive.  However, critics such as the New York State United Teachers union see charters as an attempt to privatize education while simultaneously depleting public schools of resources.

“There is zero evidence that charter schools are working,” NYSUT spokesman Carl Korn said. “The issue is poverty. When 97 percent of students attend traditional public schools, that should be the state’s priority, not creating more schools that are unaccountable to taxpayers and which siphon money away from community schools that serve all children.”

The advocacy day scheduled for this year is set to discuss a number of issues, including elimination of the charter cap, offering equal facilities funding to all charter schools, and securing operating funding for charters, said Charter Center CEO James Merriman.

“It is really one of the largest rallies and gatherings of advocates on an issue” in Albany, he said.

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