Pre-K Supporters Call State Budget a 'Win.' So Do Charter Schools.

Monday, March 31, 2014 - 06:23 AM

(Stephen Nessen for SchoolBook)

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and his allies claimed the state budget a "win" because it included $300 million for expanding pre-kindergarten despite charter school provisions that diminished his control over the sector of privately-managed public schools.

The deal, announced over the weekend and slated to be signed today, requires the city to locate charters inside district school buildings, or pay them to find private space, eliminating the option of charging rent to some, an idea de Blasio floated during the mayor's race.

The de Blasio administration denied the mayor was opposed to charter schools, or needed a course correction from Albany.

"I think it's fair to say the mayor's position his been mischaracterized," spokesman Wiley Norvell said. He added that the city established a working group to improve outcomes when schools share space "as well as address longstanding issues like overcrowding and the need to phase out mobile classroom units."

Instead, his administration and allies focused on what they had won instead: obtaining hundreds of millions of dollars in additional pre-k aid from Albany.

"After two decades of promises, Mayor de Blasio, our governor and legislators delivered for our families and children," according to a statement from the advocacy group Campaign for Children, a member of the UPK-NYC coalition.

The city said it intended to hire 1,000 teachers in order to add more classes in the public schools this fall. Private non-profits will also get funds to expand their pre-k offerings from half-day to full day, or to add extra classes. 

The charter school advocates, who felt under attack by the new mayor and appealed to state lawmakers for protections, also said they were thrilled with the deal. Jeremiah Kittredge, executive director of Families for Excellent Schools applauded the governor and state leaders for their response to "a groundswell of parent voices."

But others saw it more as a political move than wise educational policy.

Billy Easton, executive director of the Alliance for Quality Education, claimed the governor had "rammed" the charter changes into the budget.

"He took this action after a five million dollar advertising blitz by the charter school lobbying and he seems to be letting his education politics follow the money," he said.

The overlooked item: the mayor did not get the nearly $200 million he sought to expand after-school programs for middle school students.


Comments [2]


I wonder how many state legislators who voted for the bill either send their own kids to private schools or represent charter-free suburban and rural districts?

Aug. 07 2014 03:54 PM
stanhaz from Brooklyn

Strengthen the American public school system --instead of draining away sorely needed funds and resources to these private entities.
Remember Texas Governor Perry struggling and struggling on stage, as he desperately tried to remember that it was the Education Department that he wanted to abolish? That's the real back story:
Conservatives, right-wingers, and hedge fund investors (!!) would just love to divide and conquer the public school system, and us, as they try to destroy unions, pensions, and anything that smacks of the word "government" or "public" - leaving them in charge, God help us, as they bring in their charter school Trojan Horses, as they remove public ownership and public oversight of eduction in this city, and in this country.
Money, money. money, follow the money: These charter school proponents would love to privatize and monetize everything in sight- including your children's future -as they increasingly suck up your tax dollars and public buildings and public resources for their own ideological and profit-making ends --leaving the public schools starved.
When hedge-fund managers start telling you how worried they are about your child's education - RUN! Just look at the fact that nowadays you need to mortgage your entire life, just to get a college education. Not by chance. Not by chance...
Don't believe the incredible hype on this issue, including the recent multi-million dollar NYC commercial blitz ..from these so-called "non-profit" scams.
We've spent many decades building an independent and free PUBLIC school system in this country, and it has served us well. The public school system has challenges., but that reflects our society. This is not the time to abandon our public schools -by undermining and helping to destroy them with private charter schools.

Mar. 31 2014 01:34 PM

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