Mayoral candidate attacks successful charter school to win union support

Apr 24, 2013 by

NEW YORK – A New York City mayoral candidate is doing whatever he can to win the endorsement of the city’s teachers union, most recently calling on the education department to investigate charter schools.

Public advocate Bill de Blasio specifically targeted the city’s thriving Success Academy charter schools, run by union nemesis Eva Muskowitz. In a grand production on the steps of the Department of Education building, de Blasio cited a recent news report that claims Muskowitz’s Cobble Street Success Academy in Brooklyn had its light fixtures upgraded before other public school buildings, Gotham Schools reports.

Heavens forbid.

To de Blasio, the news story means city education officials are playing favorites with Success Schools, and he joined with the United Federation of Teachers union to demand an investigation into the city’s relationship with the charter school operator.

“If you are going to make a charter school safe in a school building then all the traditional public schools need to be safe as well to the same standard,” de Blasio bellowed from the steps of the education building.

“We should end the practice of favoring certain charters – giving them the ability to co-locate whether they fit a school or not. That’s why I’ve called for a moratorium on colocations and closures until we come up with a fair policy,” he said, according to Gotham Schools.

While de Blasio’s heated rhetoric was no doubt music to the teachers union’s ears, there’s one problem: he’s apparently full of baloney. The issue centers on the city’s process for removing light fixtures containing toxic “PCBs,” and education officials said they haven’t been through the building yet.

“… Success Academy and Department of Education officials dispute (news reports) and de Blasio’s claims. They say no school in the Baltic Street building has been cleared of PCBs yet and note that the city made capital improvements to the three other schools in the building at the same time as Success Academy prepared to move in last summer,” Gotham Schools reports.

Success Academy spokeswoman Jenny Sedlis told the news site de Blasio is making a fool of himself.

“Bill de Blasio didn’t do his homework before calling a press conference,” she said. “It’s disappointing that the public advocate is asking taxpayers to foot the bill for an investigation based on erroneous claims without first trying to get any of the facts himself.”

But you don’t win the teachers union’s endorsement for mayor with facts and fairness. De Blasio understands that to win the UFT’s favor he must attack its enemies and demonstrate how he would handle the union’s competition if elected.

The UFT hates charter schools and especially Success Academies because they are non-union, much more effective at reaching students than traditional public schools, and operate at a fraction of the cost. The union sees its public school monopoly slipping away, and it expects the next mayor to do something about it.

Colocations of traditional and charter public schools is a hot issue for the teachers union, and other mayoral candidates have called for a moratorium on charters to look into how the city awards space to the schools.

“Each of the Democratic candidates has been angling for months to please the UFT, which will endorse a candidate this summer before the party primary,” Gotham Schools reports. “Union officials said the process to choose a candidate would begin soon after the union’s internal elections are complete at the end of this month.”

We suspect de Blasio’s public spectacle to win the union’s favor likely won’t be the last of its kind before the mayoral election in November.

via Mayoral candidate attacks successful charter school to win union support – :: Education Research, Reporting, Analysis and Commentary.

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