And so begins the War on Charter Schools: the Department of Education has announced they will be slashing $210 million in charter school funds, using some of the money to expand the city's pre-Kindergarten programs.
Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña made the announcement yesterday, noting that the diversion of funds "will help us create high-quality, full-day pre-Kindergarten seats citywide that will deliver strong instruction"; the DOE also hopes to reduce class sizes citywide.
The move is a big one one for the de Blasio administration, as the mayor has been openly critical of charter schools, which notably expanded under Mayor Bloomberg. While campaigning this summer he announced plans to place a moratorium on the schools. The slashed funds will only affect schools that need the funding in the 2015-2019 fiscal year, and will not impact current charter school projects. "These are important steps that will dramatically improve educational outcomes for our students," Fariña said yesterday.
Naturally, the DOE's budget proposal has drawn criticism within the charter school community. "Educational homelessness for public charter school students is now the official policy of the De Blasio administration," Bill Phillips, president of the Northeast Charter Schools Network, said in a statement. And Jeremiah Kittredge, executive director of Families for Excellent Schools, told reporters in a statement that the new funds mean that "thousands of minority and low income students and families have their educational future unfairly put in jeopardy."
During his mayoral campaign, De Blasio promised to push universal pre-Kindergarten; the new budget plan would help create about 7,000 seats for full day pre-K programs, along with 33,000 additional seats schools-wide.