Cuomo Seeks More State Control to 'Protect' Charter Schools

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo drew a line in the sand as negotiations over charter school funding got underway in Albany. Speaking on WNYC's Brian Lehrer Show on Friday, Cuomo said once charters are approved, no mayor should be able to stop them from opening.

"I don’t want to see a system statewide where charter schools can be aborted by any mayor or any city," the governor said, repeating his position that charter schools serve an important role as innovators within a system that desperately needs to change.  

Cuomo was asked  if he was trying to curtail New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s control over charter schools, particularly given the mayor's recent decision to allow dozens of charter and district schools to share space with other schools this fall, except for three charter schools whose plans he blocked. Cuomo said the space arrangements were up to the mayor. 

“Co-locations, you know, you can look at each one. I think that's up to the mayor," he said, but the bigger issues should be under state control. "I don't think we should leave it up to the mayors whether or not charter schools are allowed to operate and continue and grow. I believe we should have a state policy on that.”

His comments come on the heels of the State Senate’s budget proposal which would prevent the mayor both from charging rent to charters for space in co-located public school buildings and from halting three charter schools. 

You can hear the whole interview here. Meanwhile, critics of Cuomo's pro-charter school stance protested at a Manhattan lunch attended by Cuomo and many charter supporters.

Zakiyah Ansari, of the group Alliance for Quality Education, was part of the protest. She said the entire school system needs more funds.

“The fact that we're so focused on 3 percent of the privately run charter schools is really disheartening to me as a parent,” she said, adding that governor’s budget has shortchanged school districts by more than $1 billion.

At the event, Cuomo reiterated his desire to protect charter schools from mayors who may not like them. 

“The question becomes, if the mayor says 'well, you can’t co-locate, and I’m not giving you any funding to go anywhere else,' you could de facto put the charter schools out of business," he said. "You could de facto stop the charter school movement, and we don’t want that to happen in any city. And the state law would have to address that.”