Last week, Governor Andrew Cuomo and the State Legislature passed a budget bill that allows charters to have free space inside public schools, even though the charters are private corporations. Not only that, the charters that are already located inside public schools may expand as much as they want, pushing public school children out of their buildings. In some cases, the charters will push out programs for students with profound disabilities to make way for a larger, highly privileged charter school. If the charters rent private space, the city is obliged to pay their rent. All this, despite the fact that many charters have billionaires on their private boards of directors. Today, leaders of New York City parent organizations and community councils rallied on the steps of the New York Public Library, then marched to the office of Governor Cuomo.
The Governor should remember–this being an election year–that there are 1.1 million children in New York City who attend public schools. There are 60,000 children who attend charter schools. Parents will remember in August what Governor Cuomo did in April.
For immediate release
April 10, 2014
Noah E. Gotbaum: 917-658-3213; firstname.lastname@example.org
Rashidah White: 646-229-1610; email@example.com
Electeds and Parent Leaders Representing 1.5M NYC Public School Parents Say “All NYC Kids Matter”
Rally Against the Governor’s Giveaway of Public Space To Hedge-fund Backed Charters
This afternoon, in an unprecedented show of unity, elected officials, including State Senators Liz Krueger and Brad Hoylman of Manhattan and Council Member Danny Dromm, chair of the Council Education Committee, Hazel Dukes, President of the NAACP NY State Conference, and hundreds of parents and children from across the five boroughs filled the steps of the New York Public Library to say that all kids matter, and that the privileged few who attend charter schools should not be allowed to hijack space in our already overcrowded public schools. Then they marched to Governor Cuomo’s office where children present his representative with a large signed post-card, with counterfeit dollar bills attached, to symbolize how he has enabled his wealthy contributors in the charter lobby to engineer a hostile takeover of our public schools, over the needs of NYC’s 1.1 million public school children.
Said Gale Brewer, Manhattan Borough President, “It would be a mistake for Albany to force the City to provide public space for all charters or else require the DOE to pay charter rent for private space. Our City doesn’t benefit from Albany’s meddling; it can only breed resentment and the vast majority of New Yorkers will not stand for it. If Albany truly wanted to be helpful, it would make funding available to alleviate overcrowding and support class size reduction. In too many Manhattan school districts, pre-k seats have been eliminated to make room for kindergarten seats; and, year after year, class sizes continue to rise. New York City must have the ability to determine best uses for our public school buildings without intervention from Albany.”
“Governor Cuomo’s education budget is unfair to New York City schools,” said NYC Council Education Chairperson Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights, Elmhurst). “Giving privately operated charter school students preference for space and more per pupil public funding than public school students if the city is forced to pay their rent is totally unjust. Forcing co-locations in favor of privately run charter schools and forcing out public schools creates a logistical nightmare that begs the question about where will our public school students go. We stand united against gubernatorial control of our schools.”
“Despite school leaders’ best efforts and the best intentions of the Department of Education, a co-location disadvantages students from both schools by forcing them to share already-overburdened resources,” said Assemblymember Aravella Simotas of Queens. “I applaud the dedicated efforts of community parents, teachers, and students in working towards a vision that will benefit every New York student with fair and equal access to a quality education.”
John Fielder of Community Education Council in District 7 in the Bronx said, “The new charter law is absolutely disgraceful. Our public schools are losing classrooms and programs right and left because of co-locations. PS 162 in District 7 had one of the best music programs in the Bronx; now with the charter school being forced into the building it may lose that program. I say, let charters pay for their own buildings because they can afford it, instead of hurting the education of our public school kids.’
According to Lisa Donlan, President of the Community Education Council in District 1 in Manhattan, “Parents, educators, students and community members are coming together to send a strong message to Governor Cuomo: these are our public schools , and we will not allow the Governor to bully us and hijack them to satisfy private interests. The Governor needs to improve opportunities for ALL students, not for the small number who are already protected by wealthy special interests. He could start by addressing the fact that makes our state’s schools the most segregated in the country, with NYC charter schools the most segregated of all.”
“Perhaps we should thank Gov. Cuomo for finally uniting 1.1 million families across all five boroughs. To minimize co-locations in New York City’s public schools, we stand as many…we stand as one,” said Deborah Alexander, a member of Community Education Council in District 30 in Queens.
Miriam Aristy-Farer, President of Community Education Council 6 in Upper Manhattan said, “To ignore what the state owes the public school children from the Campaign for Fiscal Equity lawsuit was wrong. To further fuel the divide in our city by giving more funding and power to charters was not only short sighted but foolish. To then allow these same charter lobbyists to flood parents’ mailboxes with propaganda, saying we should thank the Governor, is particularly outrageous.”
“Traditional public schools will now suffer even greater financial strains, thanks to the NY legislature and Governor Cuomo mandating NYC pay rent for all charter schools. I appreciate charter schools and the competition they create for better schools. I just wish we had more safeguards in place to ensure charters retain all students, especially those with disabilities. Far too many charters counsel students out of the school. The charters “cream” the high performing and less costly students while the local zoned public schools absorb the costs of providing services to the students with the most needs,” pointed out Mike Reilly, Community Education Council member from District 31 on Staten Island.
Noah E. Gotbaum, Vice President of Community Education Council District 3 in Harlem and the Upper West side said, “12,000 New York City public school students have traded classrooms for rat-infested trailers, almost half a million of our children sit in schools above capacity, and all 1.1 million face class sizes at levels not seen in decades. So why have Governor Cuomo and the Senate Coalition leadership given unregulated expansion rights to all new and existing charters, and handed over control of our public school buildings to the charter school lobby, while defunding the 94% of kids in public schools? Because the hedge fund-driven charter lobby told them to.”
“During the Bloomberg years, our communities had a difficult time communicating the educational needs of our schools to the disconnected educrats in Tweed. Now the people making decisions are in Albany and even more removed from direct input from the stakeholders. What does a state charter school authorizer know about my Brooklyn neighborhood!? NOTHING! And now these folks are in charge! Is this any way to run a school system? As we say in Brooklyn, you bet it ain’t!” said David Goldsmith, President of the Community Education Council 13 in Brooklyn.
Andy Lachman of Parent Leaders of the Upper East Side said: “For the majority of NYC public school children this budget spells D-O-O-M. It dooms public education and puts control of education in the hands of private citizens and corporations. It will mean less funding for public schools and larger class sizes in an already overcrowded system. It will mean fewer essential services, and less space for art and physical education, already lacking in too many schools.”
Rashidah White of Community Education Council in District 5 in Central Harlem said, “In the national competition to “Race to the Top”, Albany legislatures have not only neglected to provide standard state regulated learning environments for some of our country’s most needy public school children, but their decision last week leaves them ill equipped to even enter the race at all. The parceling off of NY State’s constitutional obligation to provide equitable education to all students and the funneling off of public resources to corporate backed charters is wholly unconstitutional and must be reexamined.”
Kemala Karmen of the group NYCpublic said, “The voters of New York City gave Bill de Blasio an overwhelming mandate to charge charter schools rent. Now Andrew Cuomo, who seems to take his marching orders from the wealthy hedge-funders who donate to his campaign, has reversed that popular mandate to make the city pay charter rent. This is outrageous and undemocratic. Every single public school child in New York City is a potential victim of this budget. Lock up your teachers and your guidance counselors, because the city may have to lay them off to pay for the leases of well-financed charters.”
Ellen McHugh, member of the Citywide Council on Special Education said, “Please Governor Cuomo, be a Governor for every child. If you want to be a champion of education, see to it that the Campaign for Fiscal Equity settlement is implemented. Don’t abandon the most vulnerable 109 students with special needs at PS 811, who will be evicted by the charter school for the sake of a favored few. Where will these students go? To a Success Academy, which refuses to enroll disabled children? I don’t think so.”
Leonie Haimson, Executive Director of Class Size Matters said, “ While the Governor claims he is the ‘students lobbyist’ his new budget favors the pet charter schools of his contributors while cheating 1.1 million public school children out of space and resources, at a time when our schools are already hugely overcrowded and our class sizes the largest in fifteen years. Kudos to our elected officials and the parents elected to serve on Community Education Councils, for speaking out against this unfair and damaging mandate, and insisting that all NYC kids matter, not just a privileged few.”