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De Blasio Playing Defense Over Decision To Scrap Plans For 3 Charter Schools

Charter Students, Parents To Lobby For Support In Albany Tuesday

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Public school and charter school parents are speaking out about Mayor Bill de Blasio’s announcement Thursday to deny space to some charter schools.

The controversial move will prevent three Harlem Success Academy schools from setting up in public school buildings as planned. One is said to be the top performing middle school in the community.

As CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer reported Friday evening, the charters responded to the mayor’s decision with a biting attack ad.

“Mayor de Blasio talked about the tale of two cities, but yet he wants to take away options from the communities that need it the most,” a student in the ad said.

The mayor responded with a biting attack of his own, Kramer reported.

“Forgive me, I’m not going to buy into the conflict story du jour. I’m just not. I believe that there’s a much bigger thing going on here,” de Blasio said.

More than 90 charters from across the state, including the Success Academy Network of schools run by de Blasio rival Eva Moskowitz, said they will bring 2,500 parents and kids to Albany on Tuesday to seek help protecting charter schools.

As WCBS 880’s Monica Miller reported, that happens to be the very day the mayor and city council members will be in the state capital to lobby for a tax on those making at least $500,000 to fund de Blasio’s universal pre-kindergarten plan.

The mayor said he’s not going to get involved with the sideshow.

“There are charter school leaders who are saying no way in hell would they go to Albany to march against pre-K and after school for the kids of our schools,” de Blasio said Friday.

Twenty-five charter schools won’t protest because they support the pre-K plan, Kramer reported.

“The previous administration’s policy of focusing on certain charter organizations and favoring them at the expense of other schools into which those charter schools were going, that’s not good educational policy,” de Blasio said.

“We need political leadership. we need someone to put kids in front of politics,” Moskowitz, CEO of Success Academy Network, said earlier Friday. “Public schools do not pay rent and we cannot have a discriminatory policy. Kids are kids are kids. They must be treated equally.”

Pundits said the conflict is costing de Blasio politically.

“He campaigned on this idea of a one New York bringing everybody together and it is very important that he takes care of the 95 percent of the kids in the public school. But it’s equally important that he take care of the 5 percent of students that have chosen to go on another path,” Iona College political science professor Jeanne Zaino said.

As CBS 2’s Janelle Burrell reported on Friday, some public school parents rallied in support of the mayor’s move.

They argued that charters shouldn’t be able to share space with public schools without paying for it.

“Because it is a middle school and a high school, there are a lot of kids that are now cramped into smaller spaces,” East Flatbush public school parent Celia Green said.

They claim that many charter schools are backed by wealthy donors who, they believe, should also front their rent. or pay for their own space altogether.

“Every other state and in actual district around New York State, that is the norm,” Brownsville public school parent Natasha Capers said.

“We thought some of them were either inappropriate, counterproductive, that they would harm the educational possibilities for kids,” the mayor said on Thursday.

De Blasio announced his decision to ax three planned charter schools run by Moskowitz, his adversary and a former New York City Councilwoman, Burrell reported.

The announcement enraged many charter parents.

“They say each one, teach one and no child left behind, so what are you trying to do to a bunch of children, not only my son,” Tanya Williams, the parent of a fifth grade charter school student, said.

“It’s devastating, frustration and it’s sad,” Melissa Alvarez said.

“By taking these schools away from our children – not just my child, our children – you saying that, ‘I don’t really care about y’all,'” parent Latrell Curry added.

But some de Blasio supporters argue Moskowitz has the means to have school space of her own.

“Eva Moskowitz has net assets of millions, eight figures, tens of millions of dollars. Where’s that come from? It comes from hedge funds, comes from wealthy corporate backers who are essentially trying to break unions,” said Noah Gotbaum, vice president of the Community Education Council District 3. “A hundred percent they should have to pay. Why should they be given an added benefit, they already get more money, they already have more space.”

The three charter schools being axed by the mayor are among 17 charter schools being promised free space in public schools next school year.

The other 14 charters are scheduled to open as planned, Burrell reported.

In addition to the decisions affecting charter schools, the city has scrapped plans for the following noncharter public schools:

• The opening of a new public high school on the campus of John Dewey High School in Gravesend, Brooklyn

• The opening of a new public high school on the campus of Long Island City High School in Queens

• The opening of a new middle school on the campus of P.S. 96 Joseph Lanzetta in East Harlem

• The expansion of Central Park East II Elementary School in East Harlem from grades kindergarten through 5 to grades kindergarten through 8

• The opening of a public new middle school on the campus of existing school P.S. 335 Granville T. Woods in Crown Heights, Brooklyn

• The opening of a new career and technical education high school and junior college program at University Neighborhood High School on the Lower East Side.

On Tuesday, charter school supporters launched a multimillion-dollar, multipart ad campaign in a bid to pressure de Blasio to soften his posture on charters and to convince state lawmakers to side with them. But the mayor held firm, saying he needs to concentrate resources on the 95 percent of city students in public schools.

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