|Putting Children First||
Editorial: nydailynews.com, May 30, 2013
Why charter school myths are spreading
T he teachers union recently accused City Hall of giving the Success Academy charter schools I run favorable treatment — a charge echoed by all the Democratic candidates present at a Tuesday mayoral debate.
Specifically, the United Federation of Teachers charges that T12 light fixtures containing potentially dangerous chemicals called PCBs were removed from our schools before they were from district schools. Since the idea of playing favorites with children’s safety is abhorrent, the charge is inflammatory. It’s also utterly false.
Our schools share 14 buildings with district schools. In 11 of these, our schools have been treated exactly the same as the district schools: None of the T12 lights have been replaced (six buildings), or all have (one building), or some have (two buildings) — or the building never had any T12 lights (two buildings). In three other buildings, our schools were treated worse: Some T12 lights were replaced for the district schools but not for our schools.
Those are the facts. It is unfortunate that false charges of favoritism have gained currency, because they are an insult to the civil servants at the city Education Department who are committed to protecting all children. But a more important question is why these charges are being made and spreading in the first place. The answer has everything to do with a very important moment we are about to face in the city’s history.
New Yorkers have long been ambivalent about charter schools, which are public schools offering alternative educations to thousands of city kids. That’s understandable. New ideas are often challenging, and this one — that independently managed public schools could improve educational opportunity — is perhaps counterintuitive.
Despite this ambivalence, some politicians such as Mayor Bloomberg have strongly supported charter schools because they personally believe in them. And public support has come along; polls show that about two-thirds of New York City residents support charter schools.
But the teachers union, which doesn’t like the fact that most charter schools aren’t unionized, has been eagerly awaiting Bloomberg’s departure so that it can roll back his educational reform policies.
And that explains this latest smear campaign.
Every year, more New Yorkers have children in charter schools or know someone who does. They are coming to understand the value of parent choice. This has brought us closer to a tipping point at which charter schools are strongly supported by most New Yorkers and don’t depend on a handful of forward-looking elected officials.
That day is near. In the coming school year, another wave of charter schools is scheduled to open, including six Success Academies, bringing the total served to more than 70,000 students. Each one moves us closer to that tipping point — where the city won’t tolerate a rollback of reform and might even demand more.
No wonder, with Bloomberg’s departure at hand, the union is making a desperate last-ditch effort to slow down the creation of charter schools. Seizing upon an untrue charge of favoritism, the union has asked the state Education Department to prohibit any more renovation of facilities at the schools I run. It also has demanded that officials institute new procedures that would allow the teachers union to tie up our renovations in red tape.
Perhaps the union will succeed in stopping some of our schools from opening. If so, that will be sad for the many students we had hoped to serve. But it’s too late to stop the parent choice revolution that the Bloomberg administration has nurtured for 12 years.
Whether the union likes it or not, New York City’s next mayor will inherit a vibrant network of charter schools whose growth is unstoppable — and that New York’s voters are increasingly embracing.
Moskowitz is the founder and CEO of the Success Academy Charter Schools.
Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/charter-school-myths-spreading-article-1.1357951#ixzz2XVvPAX3C
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