Monday, October 14, 2013

NYC Charter Rally

Eva Moskowitz on the charter school rally in NYC last week:

To our Success friends and supporters:
Yesterday, 17,000 parents, children, teachers and leaders from more than 70 charter schools marched together across the Brooklyn Bridge in support of education equality. This was a truly inspiring day, with a unified coalition rallying around excellent schooling and equal opportunity for all kids. The city and the country were watching, as parents chanted for equity and school choice — and kids left their self-portraits on the steps of the Department of Education. At a time of serious challenges to reform, we sent a strong message that we will fight for children’s right to a great education.
I am enormously proud of the work that the Success Academy community – our families and our educators – did to make this march so successful. I wanted you to see some of the most important press clips about the day, which was widely covered by NYC as well as national media. The links below also include a quick video that will give you a feel for the wonderful spirit of the day. As you’ll see, we made history!!!
Sending warmest thanks for all you do for our schools and our scholars,

New York Times (video and article), New York PostNY1 (video and article)CBSABC 

Eva Moskowitz – Chief Executive Officer 

A WSJ op ed on the rally:

It’s too bad every New Yorker who plans to vote in the city’s mayoral election Nov. 5 couldn’t be at the Brooklyn Bridge Tuesdaymorning. They would have seen the single most important issue in the race between Bill de Blasio and Joe Lhota. It’s not stop-and-frisk.

Thousands and thousands of charter-school parents with their young children—most looked to be in the first to fourth grades—marched across the Brooklyn Bridge to City Hall to save their schools.

…For decades, New York’s inner-city schools sent wave after wave of students into the world without the skills to do much more than achieve a minimal level of lifetime earnings, if that. This failure, repeated in so many large cities, remains the greatest moral catastrophe in the political life of the United States.

In 1999, the charter-school movement began in New York City with a handful of schools given independence from years of encrusted union rules and city regulations that made real learning virtually impossible in the city’s chaotic schools. The project flourished. Now nearly 200 charter schools teach some 70,000 students.

When the legislative limit on new charter-school openings arrives, New York’s next mayor will have to lobby the Albany legislature hard for permission to expand these lifeboats for the city’s poorest kids. So let’s put the politics of the mayoral election this way: Some 20,000 black and Hispanic parents and their kids would not have traveled from their neighborhoods—77% of the city’s charters are in Harlem, the South Bronx and Central Brooklyn—to march across that famous bridge if Bill de Blasio were not running for mayor. They think Mr. de Blasio is going to kill the charter-school movement in New York City. And they think this is a civil-rights issue.

Jason Riley with a spot-on op ed in the WSJ.

Charter school advocates are up in arms about Democrat Bill de Blasio's plans to make opening such schools more difficult if he's elected mayor of New York next month. They are right to be upset, given that these schools have proven to be viable alternatives to traditional public schools, especially when it comes to serving low-income black and Hispanic kids.

But Mr. de Blasio, who is expected to win, isn't simply pushing to stunt the growth of charters. He's planning a one-two punch for the city's minority children. Mr. de Blasio also wants to cease the practice of closing the city's most persistently failing schools, where the student bodies are almost exclusively comprised of poor minorities. Under the current mayor, Michael Bloomberg, the city has shuttered more than 160 failing schools, including many high schools, and replaced them with new schools. These new schools, on average, have higher graduation rates than the city norm. Under Mr. Bloomberg, the city's overall high school graduation rate has risen from less than 50 percent to more than 60 percent.

In other words, Mr. de Blasio is planning to not only limit school choice but also to relegate the city's most vulnerable kids to its worst-performing schools. He will of course claim to be acting on behalf of students. He will say that charters schools somehow detract from educating kids in traditional public schools, or that we should spend more time (and money) trying to fix failing schools instead of closing them.

Don't believe him. Charter schools save the city and taxpayers money because they don't receive as much per pupil funding as traditional public schools. And Mr. Bloomberg has only closed schools that continued to perform poorly despite multiple interventions over several years.

The reality is that Mr. de Blasio is looking out for the interests of the teachers unions who endorsed him. Unions don't like charters because most of them aren't organized. And unions don't want failing schools to close because it could result in job losses for their members. For Mr. de Blasio and the teachers unions, is not about the kids. It's about the adults. There are any number of big city mayors, including Democrats, who understand the need to embrace school choice. They included Michael Nutter in Philadelphia, Eric Garcetti in Los Angeles, and Vincent Gray in Washington.

They do not include Bill de Blasio.

Kudos to Merryl Tisch:

Mayoral frontrunner Bill de Blasio’s plan to kill city charter schools by a thousand cuts just got a vocal new foe.

It’s not a charter school operator, a member of the Bloomberg administration or Republican opponent Joe Lhota. It’s Merryl Tisch, chancellor of New York State’s Board of Regents — and former chairwoman of UFT favorite Bill Thompson’s mayoral campaign.

In other words, a liberal New Yorker who intimately understands the great work many charter schools are doing, sees Blasio’s “progressive” education agenda as regressive. She took aim Tuesday at de Blasio’s plan to make charters pay rent to occupy space in public school buildings.
“Charter schools are public schools,” she told us, stating a simple truth that reveals de Blasio’s basic unfairness.
Tisch continued, “What do they do with their money? Extra-long school day, extra-long school year, science labs. They wire the classrooms. They offer art, music, enriched programs. They are giving a service to the kids in New York City.”

Finally, she said, “To make New York City not hospitable to the charter school movement is to hurt efforts at fixing the school system.”

An important study in NYC that rebuts the myth that charter schools cost more than regular public schools:

The policy group Save Our States reports that charters in public school buildings cost more than $3,000 less per student less than regular public schools.

The big difference? Pensions and health costs for teachers and other staff are substantially higher for the traditional, unionized public schools compared to charters, which offer their employees 401ks rather than more generous defined benefit plans.

The findings comes as Democrat Bill de Blasio vows to charge some charter schools housed in Department of Education buildings rent if he becomes mayor.

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