This morning, thousands of students and families are marching across the Brooklyn Bridge to City Hall, in support of charter schools. That's because mayoral frontrunner, Democrat Bill de Blasio, wants to put a moratorium on them.
Charter school critics have pointed out that they are union-busting tools (few charter schools are unionized) and that educational gains are minimal/mixed. Plus, they don't pay rent (a Daily Kos contributor characterized charter school co-locations as "hostile takeovers") and instead pay management hefty salaries. NYU professor Diane Ravitch, who is no fan of charter schools, wrote two weeks ago, "Eva Moskowitz (a lawyer and former member of the City Council) is now paid $475,000 a year for managing schools enrolling fewer than 5,000 students, about double the salary of the schools’ chancellor who allegedly oversees the education of 1.1 million students."
Moskowitz, who heads Success Academy Charter Schools, called participation in the rally mandatory. From Gotham Schools:
Parents “must” plan to accompany their children to a march across the Brooklyn Bridge that will replace the first half of the school day, Moskowitz explained in an email message, which GothamSchools obtained.
“Your child’s education is threatened. Our very existence is threatened. Opponents want to take away our funding and our facilities,” she wrote. “These attacks are a real danger — we cannot stand idly by.”
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De Blasio has said, "There are charters that are much, much better endowed in terms of resources than the public sector ever hoped to be. It is insult to injury to give them free rent. They should have to pay rent. They have the money." Republican candidate Joe Lhota supports charter schools.
On whether some individual charter schools are actually working
Some charter schools are exceptional; some charter schools are doing a great job. Many charter schools do worse than the local public school. Many charter schools are run by people who have no qualifications to be educators, and some charter schools are run by for-profit entrepreneurs who are making a lot of money.
On why some public schools underperform, and how to respond
Some are bad, but the reason we call them bad is because they're serving disproportionate numbers of children with disabilities, because the charter schools don't want them. They have disproportionate numbers of children who don't read or speak English because they're foreign-born, and the charter schools don't want them either. So, we're getting the public schools overloaded with low-performing children and then calling them failing schools. And that's wrong.
There are about 70,000 students in charter schools. The NYC public school system has 1.1 million students.