New York City mayor and charters need to reconsider stances

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Mayor Bill de Blasio campaigned on the promise of re-evaluating the practice of co-locating charter and noncharter schools in public school buildings. Critics of charter schools were encouraged; charter enthusiasts feared he would damage schools that served students well.

So far, however, he has hardly waged “war” on charter schools, which are independently run, exempt from some state regulations but receive public money. In reviewing 17 charters granted space in public school buildings by the Bloomberg administration late last year, Mr. de Blasio vetoed only three proposals. His critics questioned the fairness of denying a high-performing Harlem charter school, with fifth and sixth grades, the right to expand to include seventh grade. The administration said it would find a way to allow the expansion and keep the school intact at an alternative site.

Still, charter school operators and parents who were already nervous about Mr. de Blasio’s aggressive campaign rhetoric — he once described charters as having a “destructive impact” on traditional schools — didn’t need much to push them over the edge. The mayor made matters worse by failing to explain fully why some programs were blocked and others were allowed to go forward.

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