Ev­ery kid mer­its the same shot

New York Post - - NEWS - JOHN FLANA­GAN John Flana­gan is the ma­jor­ity leader of the New York state Se­nate.

NEW York’s pri­mary obli­ga­tion un­der the state Con­sti­tu­tion is the fair and proper ed­u­ca­tion of ev­ery child re­gard­less of venue, re­gard­less of eth­nic­ity and, more im­por­tantly, re­gard­less of wealth.

Like my three chil­dren, I am a prod­uct of pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion, and they and I are very lucky for it. We did not have to fight the way other par­ents have been forced to do be­cause we had ac­cess and op­por­tu­nity. I want that for ev­ery child.

In this con­text, we are em­broiled right now in a com­pre­hen­sive dis­cus­sion about may­oral con­trol of the schools of the great City of New York and of its fu­ture.

Let me be clear. As the for­mer chair­man of the Se­nate Ed­u­ca­tion Com­mit­tee, I be­lieve in may­oral con­trol and have said so many times and for many years. I be­lieve in a vari­a­tion of a theme that the buck should stop some­where — sim­i­lar to Pres­i­dent Harry Tru­man’s state­ment that the buck stops here. Some­one must ul­ti­mately be re­spon­si­ble, and I have voted for may­oral con­trol be­cause that is who I am and what I truly be­lieve. Doesn’t mat­ter if it’s Mayor Gi­u­liani or Mayor Bloomberg or Mayor de Bla­sio. This is about the chil­dren first and the par­ents there­after, and then the teach­ers and the ad­min­is­tra­tors. It’s not about the politi­cians.

Ask your­self these ques­tions about Mayor de Bla­sio’s stew­ard­ship of the schools: Are we in­vest­ing wisely and are we actually get­ting re­sults? Are chil­dren actually grad­u­at­ing with the skills they need for gain­ful em­ploy­ment or fur­ther higher ed­u­ca­tion? These are all fair ques­tions, es­pe­cially as we look at how they re­late to char­ter schools, which lately seem to have un­fairly be­come the pariah of many so-called “ed­u­ca­tion ad­vo­cates” in New York City and New York state.

In spite of the mayor’s ef­forts and the rhetoric of the teach­ers unions, char­ter schools are ac­tual and truly le­git­i­mate pub­lic schools ed­u­cat­ing nearly 110,000 kids — real chil­dren of real par­ents and fam­i­lies who are beg­ging for their chil­dren to be given the same chance that the mayor’s chil­dren have had; and frankly, which they all de­serve.

The mayor as­sumes there are no blem­ishes on his record when it comes to the city’s pub­lic schools. Not true. He has been dogged by a grade-rig­ging scan­dal. There are 90 fail­ing schools. And he has been openly hos­tile to char­ters, even though they dra­mat­i­cally out­per­form tra­di­tional pub­lic schools by ev­ery met­ric.

When the state sends more than $10 bil­lion a year to the City of New York, money schools need and de­serve, and this mayor is charged with be­ing the van­guard and pro­tec­tor of those funds, I will never apol­o­gize for ask­ing where the money is spent and how and on which chil­dren — re­gard­less of their com­mu­nity.

No one is at­tempt­ing to pri­va­tize schools, but we are try­ing to give this mayor more tools to strengthen ed­u­ca­tion for ev­ery­one. Char­ter schools are pub­lic schools and they de­serve our re­spect and at­ten­tion be­cause of two es­sen­tial things — their out­stand­ing record of re­sults on be­half of chil­dren and their ad­vo­cacy for more than 50,000 kids now on a wait­ing list who are clam­or­ing for a chance at suc­cess. Those kids and par­ents are try­ing to get to the dance, and I be­lieve we have an obli­ga­tion to help them get there.

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