Apparently newly elected New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio didn’t get the memo from President Obama today about being your Brother’s Keeper. De Blasio is blocking four charter schools – run by the Success Academy charter school network – from opening or expanding, rolling back an offer made to the charter network by his predecessor, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, to co-locate in spaces not being fully used by the traditional public school system.
“The cumulative impact of de Blasio’s actions virtually halts charter school expansions,” the New York Post reported.
The charter network’s founder, Eva Moskowitz, runs twenty-two Success charter schools in New York, educating some 6,700 students. The city had agreed to allow the charters, which are public schools that are operated with more autonomy, to co-locate in buildings with traditional public schools.
But that all changed when de Blasio took office. “There’s no way in hell that Eva Moskowitz should get free rent,” he exclaimed.
One of the four schools is already in operation and three additional Success academies were slated to open their doors this fall. The mayor’s actions have left “at least 700 children without a school this coming school year.” Fifty thousand children are on charter school wait lists in New York.
As was noted in a profile of Moskowitz in the Wall Street Journal last week, the stakes are high:
“The 6,700 students at her 22 Success Academy Charter Schools are overwhelmingly from poor, minority families and scored in the top 1% in math and top 7% in English on the most recent state test…
“In the six weeks since taking office, Mr. de Blasio has …cut all funding for charter-school construction after 2015. He announced a “moratorium” on putting new charters inside existing schools. He is considering ways to roll back 25 co-locations already approved for the next school year, including 10 Success Academies.”
The impact of de Blasio’s actions on the children of New York will be significant. As Andrew Rotherham wrote in USA Today:
“Consider the third-graders at Success Academy Harlem 5. They share a public school building with P.S. 123. If Harlem 5 children lose their seats, they might have to enroll in P.S. 123.
“Here’s the dilemma:
“The schools have similar students, but 88% of Harlem 5 third-graders passed New York’s math test compared with 5% of P.S. 123?s.”
What could possibly be the reason for de Blasio’s war against these successful charters? It’s hard to say for sure, but it’s perhaps worth noting that those 22 schools that Ms. Moskowitz operates are mostly non-union.
It seems almost beyond comprehension to single out successful school operators and extinguish the opportunity these children have to potentially change the course of their lives. But for now, the educational future of 700 children looks dimmer.