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Queens Chronicle

Charter schools and pre-K funding

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Posted: Thursday, March 6, 2014 10:30 am

The completely unnecessary wars over education launched by Mayor de Blasio continued this week, with the specter of dueling rallies in Albany.

One was a protest against de Blasio’s decision to undercut charter schools at every turn. The innovative public schools, though not without problems, are providing wonderful educational opportunities to many students, especially hard-working minorities in poor neighborhoods. But they are anathema to de Blasio’s allies in the teachers union because they are not subject to their rules, and he apparently would rather see those students forced back into substandard traditional schools than be given such a great chance to succeed.

Luckily for students enrolled in charters, and the many, many thousands who hope to get into them, Gov. Cuomo is taking a much smarter stance. He supports charters and is putting considerable political capital into protecting them from the mayor’s efforts to thwart their success.

“I feel fired up!” the governor told the thousands who attended the pro-charter school rally held Tuesday. “We are going to save charter schools. You are not alone!”

Meanwhile another rally, led by de Blasio, was held just a few blocks away. That one was designed to lobby state lawmakers to back the mayor’s plan to finance universal, mandatory prekindergarten through an income tax increase on city residents making more than $500,000.

The governor responded to de Blasio’s drive to implement universal pre-K by proposing his own plan. It would be better in a couple of ways and not as good in one. It would not require any new taxes. It would be statewide. And it would leave it up to parents to decide whether to enroll their children. On the downside, it would be implemented in September 2015, rather than this fall, as the mayor’s plan would be.

On charters, de Blasio is busy demonizing ex-Councilwoman Eva Moskowitz, who runs many. But what hurts her Success Academy schools also hurts the minority students from places such as Harlem and soon, Jamaica, who go there.

De Blasio has a lot invested in these fights, but he should back down. Middle-class and poor New Yorkers cannot afford another tax hike on their rich employers, who may decide they’ve had enough and move jobs out of state. Nor should they be denied the positives of charter schools, which vastly outweigh the negatives. We ask that you tell your state Assembly members and senators to stick with Cuomo in these battles over the future of education.

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