Mayor De Blasio’s dilemma: Side with union or let the parents be heard?

Jan 14, 2014 by

NEW YORK – New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and his new schools chancellor Carmen Farina are facing their first challenge with the city’s education system and it pits them directly against the teachers union that helped put them in office.

De Blasio, an outspoken critic of the city’s charter schools, recently heard from a group  of charter school parents at city hall, where they demanded to have their voices heard in a union-backed lawsuit challenging the city’s plans to have 30 charter schools share space with traditional public schools, the New York Post reports.

The lawsuit was filed by the United Federation of Teachers union and its allies to attack the practice of co-locations, a virtual necessity for charter schools to operate in New York City’s sky-high real estate market. The lawsuit is essentially the union’s best shot at pulling the rug from under the previous city administration’s progress with bringing charter schools to the city.

The UFT has also filed a brief asking the court to deny a request by the parents to have a voice in the lawsuit, the Post reports.

The problem is that de Blasio and Farina have built their education policy around opening the lines of communication with public school parents, and involving parents in school decisions.

“’I’ve talked so consistently about focusing on the role of parent’s validly in the decision-making process,” de Blasio was quoted as saying.

Farina promised to run “a system where parents are treated as real partners,” the news site reports.

Ironically, the UFT union also claims to care about what parents think. The UFT’s charter co-location lawsuit is necessary because the process for determining how facilities are shared deprived “the most significant stakeholders, the parents of the affected students, the opportunity … to participate” as the law requires, according to the Post.

Teachers unions that say one thing and do another are nothing new. Doubletalk is the foundation of the union’s political and public relations strategies.

But de Blasio, who has been in office less than a month, has a very important decision to make. Will he keep his promise to the city’s parents and ensure they have their voices heard in court on the co-location issue, or will he keep his promise to the teachers union to wage war on the city’s charter schools and shut parents out of the process?

New York City charter school parents made it perfectly clear last week they want to be heard, the only question that remains is what de Blasio and Farina are going to do about it.

The Post summed it up like this:

“So how about it, Chancellor Farina: Will you speak up for these parents, or let your silence speak for the teachers union?”

Mayor De Blasio’s dilemma: Side with union or let the parents be heard? – powered by Education Action Group Foundation, Inc..

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