Risks los­ing school reins over re­fusal to budge on char­ters


Mayor de Bla­sio dug in his heels on char­ter schools Mon­day, as the fierce de­bate threat­ened to cost him con­trol of the city’s school sys­tem and bring back the bad old days of the Board of Ed.

At a City Hall rally, de Bla­sio claimed he’s done ev­ery­thing he can to ac­com­mo­date char­ters, and of­fered to “sit down any­time, any­where” for “a con­struc­tive di­a­logue about how we can work with char­ter schools and with par­ents who are in char­ter schools.”

He pre­dicted dire con­se­quences if he loses his show­down with state Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader John Flana­gan, who wants to lift the cap on the num­ber of pri­vately run pub­lic schools in the city.

Flana­gan’s plan, passed by the Se­nate, would au­tho­rize 40 new city char­ters, in ad­di­tion to 23 al­ready slated to open in Septem­ber.

But with the law grant­ing may­oral con­trol over city schools set to ex­pire at mid­night on June 30 — and Al­bany’s leg­isla­tive ses­sion end­ing on Wed­nes­day — Hiz­zoner faced the prospect of a crush­ing de­feat that he has said would re­turn “chaos” and “cor­rup­tion” to ed­u­ca­tion in the city.

“Mayor de Bla­sio is play­ing chicken with the fu­tures of 48,000plus stu­dents wait­ing for a shot at a bet­ter ed­u­ca­tion through char­ter schools. Par­ents should be ap­palled,” said Brandon Muir of the pro-char­ter group Re­claim New York. “It’s a no-brainer to lift the char­ter-school cap and ex­tend may­oral con­trol,” he added,

A spokes­woman for Eva Moskowitz’s Suc­cess Academy, which runs 41 char­ter schools, claimed de Bla­sio “has been any­thing but fair to char­ter- school fam­i­lies from the mo­ment he took of­fice.”

Hiz­zoner’s of­fenses range “from evict­ing Har­lem’s high­est-per­form­ing mid­dle-school­ers to stonewalling par­ents for months on end, only to of­fer in­ad­e­quate tem­po­rary so­lu­tions, de­spite the 144,000 empty seats across the city,” said the spokes­woman, Ni­cole Size­more.

Man­hat­tan Coun­cil­man Ben Kal­los, a may­oral ally on ed­u­ca­tion, coun­tered that “char­ter schools shouldn’t be play­ing pol­i­tics with chil­dren as pawns.”

“Hold­ing the pub­lic-school sys­tem hostage for char­ter-school ex­pan­sion isn’t right,” said Kal­los, who rep­re­sents the Up­per East Side. “Par­ents in my district aren’t ask­ing for more char­ter school seats. They’re ask­ing for more seats in tra­di­tional pub­lic schools.”

Assem­bly Speaker Carl Heastie (D-Bronx) also turned up the heat, vow­ing Mon­day that he wouldn’t con­vene a spe­cial ses­sion later this year if the mat­ter isn’t set­tled by Wed­nes­day.

“We’re not com­ing back,” Heastie said.

The state in 2002 handed con­trol of the city schools to then-Mayor Mike Bloomberg un­der a law that briefly ex­pired in 2009 be­fore be­ing re­newed for six years.

De Bla­sio sought a per­ma­nent ex­ten­sion — which he then scaled back to three years — be­fore win­ning just a one-year re­newal in 2015. Law­mak­ers granted him another one-year ex­ten­sion last year.

On Mon­day, de Bla­sio said re­con­sti­tut­ing the Board of Ed and its 32 lo­cal school boards could cost city tax­pay­ers $1.6 bil­lion over the next 10 years.

He also said los­ing con­trol of the school sys­tem could mean the end of his pop­u­lar “pre-K for all” pro­gram.

De Bla­sio made his re­marks sur­rounded by a crowd of sup­port­ers from var­i­ous unions, but the United Fed­er­a­tion of Teach­ers was con­spic­u­ously ab­sent.

UFT Pres­i­dent Michael Mulgrew is­sued a state­ment shortly af­ter the rally ended, say­ing, “May­oral con­trol should not be a mat­ter for de­bate, and doesn’t need the UFT to de­fend it.”

De Bla­sio — who spoke twice Mon­day with Flana­gan to bro­ker an agree­ment — avoided di­rect at­tacks on him. But oth­ers took aim at the Long Is­land Repub­li­can.

“How dare Flana­gan, from Suf­folk County, tell us what is good for our chil­dren,” state NAACP Pres­i­dent Hazel Dukes fumed. “The neigh­bor­hoods of his district in Suf­folk don’t look like any district in New York City.”

Af­ter a meet­ing with Gov. Cuomo, who sources said was also try­ing to bro­ker a deal, Flana­gan said “there’s still plenty of time to ne­go­ti­ate.”

Hold­ing the pub­lic-school sys­tem hostage for char­ter­school ex­pan­sion isn’t right. City Coun­cil­man Ben Kal­los (D-Man­hat­tan) Mayor de Bla­sio is play­ing chicken with the fu­tures of 48,000-plus stu­dents wait­ing for a shot at a bet­ter ed­u­ca­tion through char­ter schools. — Brandon Muir of Re­claim New York

Mayor de Bla­sio is be­lat­edly pre­dict­ing doom if the Leg­is­la­ture lets may­oral con­trol of the schools lapse. So why won’t he back a com­pro­mise that saves it and harms no one? The law ex­pires June 30 un­less law­mak­ers re­new it by Wed­nes­day’s end of ses­sion. And the Assem­bly, at the be­hest of de Bla­sio and the teach­ers unions, re­fuses to back any of three Se­nate-passed bills to ex­tend it.

If may­oral con­trol goes, de Bla­sio warned Mon­day, “We would have to re­con­sti­tute the old Board of Ed­u­ca­tion,” with no one per­son nam­ing a ma­jor­ity of its seven mem­bers, and no one vot­ers could hold to ac­count.

“This is the great un­known,” he in­sists, lead­ing to “chaos” and “cor­rup­tion.”

In fact, may­oral con­trol lapsed once be­fore, but then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg was able to find a deal that re­stored it. So why won’t this mayor push the Assem­bly to com­pro­mise and back a Se­nate bill?

Af­ter all, de Bla­sio is on record as not op­pos­ing char­ter schools, which the Se­nate bills boost by al­low­ing more char­ter growth here in the city. In 2014, he warned against “pit­ting” char­ters against the reg­u­lar public­school sys­tem.

And last year, he told a stu­dent to see be­yond the (wide­spread) per­cep­tion that he’s anti-char­ter: “It’s not shock­ing that in pol­i­tics things get dis­tilled down to a sen­tence,” he said. But there’s a “much richer” story of “work­ing to­gether.”

“Work­ing to­gether” for the good of both sys­tems is all the Se­nate’s look­ing to do. If he truly doesn’t op­pose char­ters, it wouldn’t even be a con­ces­sion. Was the mayor ly­ing to a school­child?

As for de Bla­sio’s claim that re­newal should be a “pure” bill . . . Well, that’s re­mark­ably naive for a fel­low who not long ago was trad­ing ac­cess to City Hall fa­vors for cam­paign do­na­tions to pro­duce a Se­nate more to his lik­ing.

Would he rather lose con­trol of the schools than face down the teach­ers union, which hates char­ters?

The union will be fine if may­oral con­trol lapses — its power won’t suf­fer. But it’s a sad sack of a mayor in­deed who’ll ac­cept hu­mil­i­a­tion rather than cross a spe­cial in­ter­est.


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