Speaking recently before the country's largest union, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio came out against the very concept of charter schools.
"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," de Blasio said. "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."
As head of the nation's largest school system, de Blasio's prejudices are also having a direct impact on individual lives. In New York City, 123,000 students out of a public school system of 1.1 million attend charter schools. Unsurprisingly, the mayor's remarks drew hot fire from the hometown tabloids.
"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," snarled the New York Daily News.
The hostility that New York progressives—especially white New York progressives—have against charters is already taking a toll on poor minority kids stuck in failing districts.
The state legislature last month elected not to lift the cap on the number of charters allowed in New York City despite overwhelming demand from parents.
As local political personality and columnist Errol Louis noted, in the 2017-18 school year, about 59 percent of black students attending charters passed the state math test, compared with only 25 percent in regular district schools. The stats for Latino students follow the same pattern.
One charter school in the Bronx recently saw every single one of its eighth-graders earn a perfect score on the state algebra exam, despite being situated in the nation's poorest congressional district.
Half of kids attending traditional public schools in the same district failed the test.
What used to be a fairly mainstream Democratic idea, championed by the likes of former Pres. Barack Obama, Joe Biden, and pre-presidential-campaign Sen. Cory Booker (D–N.J.), has now become something candidates feel like they need to furiously backpedal from. And according to one recent survey, those reformist tendencies are not likely to be seen again from a Democrat any time soon.
De Blasio's political career has been marked by the extent to which he's willing to sell out his constituents—in this, case minority kids in failing schools—to advance his own political career. Sadly, that puts him in the mainstream of the modern Democratic Party.
Edited by Mark McDaniel.
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