By Steve Gunn
NEW YORK – Most of the candidates for mayor in New York City are desperate for the endorsement of the United Federation of Teachers.
That’s why then attended the union’s spring conference last week and announced that they would oppose any effort to lift the cap on the number of charter schools in the city.
The union hates charter schools, of course, because they steal students from traditional public schools, and they typically do not employ union teachers.
But the mayoral candidates may be short-sighted in their kowtowing to the union.
It appears that thousands of New York residents want more charter schools, and a lot of them will vote in the mayoral election.
The demand for more charters became evident Tuesday when the New York Charter School Center announced that 60,000 students have applied for 18,600 seats available in the city’s 183 charter schools for the 2013-14 school year, according to GothamSchools.org.
That means that more than 50,000 students will have to return to traditional public schools against their will.
The number of applications is a slight increase over the number received last year. That level of interest illustrates the continued general disgust with the New York City public school system that the teachers union is fighting to protect.
The inability to accept all applicants was more profound at some charter schools than others. The Bronx Charter School for Better Learning, for example, received 1,500 applications for 50 seats in the school, the news report said.
“Our demand is always high, but this year it’s higher than ever before,” Shubert Jacobs, principal of the school, was quoted as saying.
But the mayoral candidates still seem more concerned with pleasing the union, which wants to keep the city’s charter school cap at 214. There will be 183 charter schools in the city this fall, but with continued demand it’s probably only a matter of time before 214 schools will not be sufficient.
“While some may want to turn back the clock to when New York only had a handful of public charter schools, these record application numbers show parents overwhelmingly demand them,” Marc Sternberg, the New York City Department of Education’s senior deputy chancellor, was quoted as saying. “We believe in giving them those choices.”
The people who hope to be mayor might want to consider giving parents more choices, as well, if they want to have any real chance of replacing Mayor Michael Bloomberg next year.