Bill de Blasio, the odds-on favorite to become New York City’s next Mayor, has declared war on the city’s charter schools. Yesterday, thousands of charter school teachers and students marched on the Brooklyn Bridge to protest his promise that, if elected, he would no longer let charter schools use empty or underused public school buildings rent free. The amounts involved aren’t small beans: the city’s budget office has estimated that this would force charters to pay an additional $2,400 per student, in a city that has 70,000 charter students. As the New York Times reports, de Blasio’s charter school agenda isn’t just about milking them for revenue; he wants to stop their growth entirely:
“We have the right amount now to foster a certain amount of innovation and competition,” he said on Tuesday.New York City can add as many as 66 more before it reaches the maximum allowed under a 2010 state law. The state oversees the creation of charter schools, but Mr. de Blasio could make New York City a difficult environment for any new schools to find a footing.
We reject de Blasio’s misguided crusade. The goal of a city’s education policy should be to provide the best possible education to students, using whatever system works best. While the jury is still out on whether and which kinds of charter schools perform better than their traditional counterparts, early studies suggest that poor and minority students have enjoyed big gains in part because of charter schools. Declaring war on this doesn’t strike us as a smart policy.[Bill de Blasio photo courtesy of Getty Images]