Bill de Blasio

De Blasio's 'Hate' for Charter Schools Is Bad for America, Terrible for New York

Democrats repudiate their own recent past and seek to restrict educational choices for poorer kids.

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"A true New Yorker," New York Mayor Bill de Blasio declared at a rally this February, "stands up against hate." Unless, apparently, that hate is directed at people who successfully educate poor kids without unionized teachers.

At a Democratic cattle call last Friday in front of the National Education Association (NEA), the largest labor union in the country, de Blasio exceeded the contempt of even Bernie Sanders for public schools operated by non-governmental entities.

"I'm going to be blunt with you," the fourth-tier Democratic presidential aspirant barked, loping around the stage and jabbing his finger for emphasis. "I am angry about the state of public education in America. I am angry about the fact that you are disrespected on a regular basis in this country, despite doing such important work. I am angry about the privatizers! I am sick and tired of these efforts to privatize a precious thing we need, public education. I know we're not supposed to be saying 'hate,' our teachers taught us not to. I hate the privatizers, and I want to stop them."

The mayor, whose school system of 1.1 million currently includes 123,000 kids attending charters, made it clear that it's not just the comparatively narrow category of for-profit entities that he's against, but the entire concept.

"We need a federal government that finally takes responsibility for funding education in the way it needs to be done in this country," de Blasio said. "That's what I want to focus on. Get away from high-stakes testing, get away from charter schools. No federal funding for charter schools. By the way, too many Republicans, but also too many Democrats, have been cozy with the charter schools. Let's be blunt about it: We need to hold our own party accountable, too. And no one should ask for your support, or no one should be the Democratic nominee unless they're willing to stand up to Wall Street and the rich people behind the charter school movement once and for all."

Befitting a candidate hated nationally (and almost locally) even more than President Donald Trump, de Blasio came in for some hot fire from his hometown media. The New York Post editorialized against "De Blasio's charter school lies." The Daily News, not normally in political agreement with its tabloid rival, came at Hizzoner with receipts. "His anger isn't aimed at the man in the mirror, who spent $800 million in taxpayer money promising and miserably failing to deliver 'fast and intense improvement' in struggling traditional public schools," the paper snarled, before really getting personal:

Let the record show that a man wealthy enough to afford to buy a home in Park Slope, who was therefore able to send his son and daughter to fine public elementary and middle schools and then onto selective public high schools, now wants to deny alternatives to poorer families whose neighborhoods are often plagued with underperforming schools.

Quality educational options for me, not for thee. We know we're not supposed to be saying "hate," but we hate supposedly progressive hypocrites.

The open prejudice that New York progressives—especially white New York progressives—have against charters has already started to take its toll. The November 2018 election brought to Albany a bloc of anti-charter Democrats, some of whom campaigned "to get rid of" non-unionized public education. Sure enough, the legislature last month elected not to lift the cap on the number of charters allowed in New York City, despite clearly demonstrated demand from parents and a willingness to supply among operators. In 2018, nearly 53,000 students ended up on charter waitlists, unable to obtain the 27,000 available seats.

"Charters routinely outperform other public schools and have proven to be a lifeline for working-class black and Latino parents looking for a sound education," wrote locally beloved NY1 News Political Anchor Errol Louis in a fiery Daily News piece. "In the 2017-18 school year, according to the New York City Charter School Center, an astounding 58.6% of black students in city charters scored at or above state achievement levels in math, compared with only 25.4% in regular district schools. For Latino students, 56.9% hit the mark in math at charter schools compared with 30% in district schools."

Just last week, one of those charters, Success Academy Bronx 2, saw all 53 of its eighth-graders earn a five out of five on the state algebra exam, despite being situated in the nation's poorest congressional district and having 90 percent of its population qualify for free or reduced student lunch. Half of the public school kids in the same district failed the test.

De Blasio was confronted about these glaring disparities Tuesday by Errol Louis:

Louis: … 53 percent of the charters kids are African American, 38 percent are Latino, 81 percent are low-income free and reduced lunch, and they're outscoring the traditional public schools in every measurable dimension.

De Blasio: We know that.

Louis: I understand where there are problems, like, you know, there are 53,000 people on this waiting list and so forth, but there's nothing you can learn from them?

De Blasio: We—again, I say we partner with the ones that share those values of inclusion. We work with them—best practices are shared both ways. I think there are some charter schools that do good work, I think there's some charter schools that are test-prep factories, I think there are some charter schools that are exclusionary, and that goes against everything I believe in.

It's bad enough that de Blasio's policies are harming kids in New York. But the anti-charter prejudice he's tapping into is rapidly becoming a core Democratic Party value. The other presidential candidates at the NEA forum—former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Kamala Harris (D–Calif.), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D–Mass.), Sen. Bernie Sanders (I–Vt.), former congressman Beto O'Rourke, Julián Castro, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D–Minn.), Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, and Rep. Tim Ryan (D–Ohio)—mostly piled on the charter movement. Only O'Rourke, who used to be a full-throated supporter of charters, dared to suggest that "there is a place for public, nonprofit charter schools," but he quickly got to the "but": "But private charter schools and voucher programs, not a single dime in my administration will go to them."

What used to be a fairly mainstream Democratic idea, championed by the likes of Barack Obama, Biden, and pre-presidential-campaign Sen. Cory Booker (D–N.J.), has now become something candidates feel like they need to furiously backpedal from. This Chalkbeat survey of 2020 educational policy positions makes it clear the mildly reformist tendencies of Obama Education Secretary Arne Duncan are not likely to be seen again from a Democrat any time soon.

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  1. I am angry about the fact that you are disrespected on a regular basis in this country

    Who isn’t a victim?

    1. They are disrespected for the same reason the Cleveland Browns are.

      1. They let people down?

  2. De Blasio ‘s ‘Hate’ for Charter Schools Is Bad for America, Terrible for New York

    Better.

    1. Certainly more accurate.

  3. If you are wondering what De Blasio is doing with his hands, that’s the somatic component for Conjure Antifa Swarm.

    1. 2d6 blunt damage against gay elves?

    2. Soon Antifa will be roaming the streets of NYC. Hmmm…I’m not as confident that NYC cops will just let Antifa get away with assault and vandalism.

  4. Without public schools how will the left indoctrinate the poor?

  5. DeBlasio’s rant is spoken like a good little communist.

  6. “We need a federal government that finally takes responsibility for funding education in the way it needs to be done in this country,”

    By eliminating the federal department of education, and all government grants, loans, or funds of any kind?

    1. ““We need a federal government that finally takes responsibility for funding education in the way it needs to be done in this country,”

      TRANSLATION: We more money from the taxpayers so we can feed the bloated educrat bureaucracy, pay baby sitters pretending to be teachers, and ensure there will be no school choice, no charter schools, no private schools except for my kids and the kids of my cronies.

  7. “Democrats repudiate their own recent past and seek to restrict educational choices for poorer kids.”

    It’s been decades since Democrats tried to help poor kids get a better education. They much prefer the donations from the teachers unions.

  8. “I say we partner with the ones that share those values of inclusion. .., I think there are some charter schools that are exclusionary, and that goes against everything I believe in.”

    These schools tend to be majority minority. To the extent they are “exclusive”, it’s almost entirely due to jackass pols like these Dems that cap the number of seats.

  9. Hmmmm.
    I wonder what private or charter school de Blasio sent his kids to?

  10. De Blasio is a retarded fetus.

  11. […] CHARTER CHATTER Opinion: Mayor Bill de Blasio’s recent criticism of charter schools is misguided. Reason […]

  12. Here in south Florida we have magnet programs and charter schools, and even some programs that allow public funding for private education.

    But what does that do for the state of education? US News and world report thinks Florida isn’t so great, right?

    Well, that’s because they are in the pocket of the unions. When you take out the huge piece of their ranking that is simply “how much money do you spend” and normalize for race and demographics – Florida is at the top.

    This despite a population that includes immigrants from all over the world with English as a second language, and a lot of poor, rural kids.

    But let’s not look to the system with the best value for dollar in education outcome in the nation…. no, that would be evil!! Instead, lets make sure that the poor kids have teachers and school administrators who make more than the kids they educate can ever hope to make. That’ll keep those dumb minorities voting democrat forever, right?

    1. Full disclosure: My kid goes to one of those magnet programs. We chose that over the private schools because our experience was that the kids in the magnet program outperform the kids in the private schools. And the local high school magnet is one of the top high schools in the nation. So rather than spend more than a half a million getting a private education that isn’t as good, we’re putting our bet down on the magnet program.

      1. May the odds always be in your favor

        1. Funny…. it is a lot like that. Choosing the right middle school is a really, really big deal in this system. Because successfully completing the right middle school program guarantees a slot in the right high school. And the success rate for college admissions at the right high school is really, really good. As in, they get into the ivy league schools at much higher rates than the $25,000+ per year private schools. I think I heard that over 90% of their students are accepted at their first choice university. That’s a pretty big deal… and a pretty tough decision for a 5th grade kid to have to face.

  13. Now that Swalwell is out, I think De Blasio is the most annoying person left in the race. It’s a good thing nobody likes the guy, in NYC or nationally.

    The linked poll is really illuminating. Solid majorities of Black and Hispanic Democrats support charter schools while only a quarter of White Dems do so. Yet, I’m sure the majority of White Dems opposing them are convinced that charter schools are just racist tools of oppression and that they’re standing up for POC by opposing them.

  14. […] against hate,” then promptly declared, “I hate the privatizers, and I want to stop them.” But Reason’s Matt Welch snarks that hate is acceptable if it “is directed at people who successfully educate poor kids without […]

  15. […] then promptly declared, “I hate the privatizers, and I want to stop them.” But Reason’s Matt Welch snarks that hate is acceptable if it “is directed at people who successfully educate poor kids […]

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