Future of New York City Charters Uncertain as Election Looms

Before leaving the post of mayor, New York City’s Michael Bloomberg is planning to free up city buildings so that the Department of Education can introduce 23 new charter schools into the city’s education system. Bloomberg’s push could be a memorable way to end a 12 year run as mayor that featured several significant school reforms — and especially because the front-runner to replace Bloomberg, Democrat Bill de Blasio, looks to reduce the amount of funding for charter schools.

de Blasio has also suggested that he would make charter schools pay rent, which could reduce the quality of education that the schools are able to provide, writes .

“Over the last decade, we’ve transformed the landscape in city schools, giving parents more high-performing options than ever before and delivering historic gains for our students,” said DOE spokesman Devon Puglia.

“When public schools — be they district or charter — are delivering resounding results, we want to ensure their success continues.”

Carl Campanile and Beth DeFalco write in the New York Post that charter schools open up a different style of education, one that pushes not only high quality education but also a unique approach to teaching students. The world is constantly changing, charter advocates argue, which is why the education system must continue to innovate — and because of the independent nature of charter schools, they are able to do that without as many policy roadblocks.

During his tenure as mayor, Bloomberg shut down a large number of schools which were performing poorly, and in their place the city opened smaller schools and made charters available. The likely successor Democrat Bill de Blasio, who is generally hostile to charter schools, has caused stress for parents eager to embrace new, better educational options for their kids. As a charter parent testified:

“I pray my son goes to the eighth grade. He has been in the school since kindergarten. We love this school,” said the dad. “My son is in the third grade and he’s reading at a fifth-grade level.”

Moving a child from one school to another comes with consequences such as a disruption to their education, and it might even cause them some emotional distress if they find it difficult to fit in at their new school.

It remains to be seen whether New York City communities, most of whom have embraced charters, will react negatively if charter school progress is reversed. With enough community participation, the plans that the potential successor Bill de Blasio has might not come to fruition.

de Blasio’s opponent, Republican Joe Lhota, is fanning the flames in a new television ad that indicates charters could be a major topic throughout the rest of the election cycle:

“Charter schools allow parents to choose the best education for their children. Accountability. Better schools. Greater hope,” the narrator in the 30-second spot says. “But Bill de Blasio wants to roll back their success.”

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