ALBANY, N.Y. – The battle over charter schools in New York is just getting started.
In the wake of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio reversing three co-location agreements between public and charter schools in New York City, effectively evicting the charter school operators, Gov. Andrew Cuomo is stepping up his game.
Cuomo told charter school advocates protesting de Blasio’s decision at the Capitol Tuesday “we will save charter schools.” Now he’s backing up that statement with the announcement he is exploring legislation that would ensure charter schools can co-locate with public schools, Newsday.com reports.
The co-location agreements are critical for charter schools to operate in New York City’s sky-high real estate market.
De Blasio has repeatedly said he will end “free rent” for charter schools, but Cuomo rightly contends both charters and traditional schools are public schools, and allowing charters to use space doesn’t cost anything.
“Co-location is not money … it’s policy,” Cuomo told the media, according to Newsday.
The governor also defended charter schools as essential to reforming public education.
“He said the public school system has devolved into an ‘industry mentality’ that serves the employees backed by ‘front groups’ acting as advocates of parents and students seeking more taxpayer spending,” Newsday reports.
“He said the ‘money, money, money’ response to improving public education hasn’t worked.”
Unfortunately, de Blasio isn’t the only anti-charter politician Cuomo will have to contend with. State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver – of the ‘money, money, money’ crowd – criticized the governor for … well, not providing enough money in his education budget.
“Silver said New York City schools already have a space problem and that should be addressed before charter schools are given space,” Newsday reports. “Silver … noted Cuomo didn’t include any additional funding for charter schools in his budget or amendments.”
If there’s truly a space problem in New York City schools, as Silver contends, then it would make much more sense to provide space based on student performance, instead of the type of school. The best schools – whether they’re charters or traditional public schools – would be allowed to expand, while the poorly performing schools would be forced to shrink or close. That would certainly be the best plan in terms of helping students reach their full potential.
But Silver, de Blasio and their ilk aren’t concerned with student learning. Their focus is on what’s best for their political benefactors in the state and city teachers unions, and that’s the real problem.