Michael Schaus

Elite New York Democrats are waging a war on children. Well… At least that’s how it appears when the progressive Democrat mayor kicks 700 students out of high-performing schools, because… Well… He doesn’t really have a good reason. Ostensibly, it’s because he doesn’t want charter schools (public education facilities that govern their affairs with autonomy from New York public education directives) to share space with underperforming school districts.

Proving that there are worse things than a Bloomberg-run city, de Blasio has decided to kick at least three charter school programs out of their co-location agreements with traditional public education facilities. The fact that the charter programs have shown a tremendous ability to produce quality education – and are highly prized by under-privileged families – is apparently unimportant to a mayor who was elected with heavy teacher-union support. Over 700 kids will now be dumped into underperforming public schools, because their charter program has been forced, by the elitist minds at Gracie Mansion, to shut its doors.

According to the New Yorker:

De Blasio, a vocal supporter of teachers’ unions, has said that he would end free rent for some co-located charter schools. At a June forum, when asked about the existing rent-free agreements, de Blasio said, pointedly, “There is no way in hell that Eva Moskowitz should get free rent, O.K.?”

Right… “Free rent” is the issue… That’s a hard pill to swallow in a city that has strict rent control regulations. (By the way, Eva Moskowitz is head of one of the most successful charter programs in New York. But sure… Let’s get personal.) According to de Blasio, it is unacceptable for high-performing charter schools to share space with underperforming public schools. At Harlem 5, a “22 Success” charter school located in Harlem, 88 percent of the student body passed the state math exam. At PS 123, which shares the same building as Success, only 5 percent passed the same state exam. But yeah… The obvious problem here is rent.

The progressive Democrat’s priorities, however, are obviously not focused on the wellbeing of inner city youth. In a debate with the Republican candidate for Mayor (Yeah, there was a Republican candidate) de Blasio explained that “in the end, our city rises or falls on our traditional public schools.” Okay… Well, the city is falling. Luckily for some winners of charter-school lotteries, not everyone is falling at the same pace.

And unfortunately, de Blasio is far more interested in protecting the union monopoly, than bettering the education of the city’s underprivileged. After all, it’s not as if these charter programs primarily benefit the wealthy. In fact the primary beneficiary happens to be the very people that progressives claim to represent. Which raises the question: If the betterment of the underprivileged is the goal, why is the city not doing everything they can to expand the footprint of “22 Success” and their educational progress?

Well… The obvious answer is that a 9 year old child from a one parent home, north of 115th Street, simply doesn’t donate as much to the progressive cause as the United Federation of Teachers. Unions, after all, are unlikely to be ecstatic about a non-union school option that outperforms in such phenomenal fashion.

Parents, by the way, are overwhelmingly supportive of alternatives to the city’s abysmal public Ed system. Last year, a Harlem charter program (soon to be shutdown by the Democrat mayor of NYC) received 2,665 applications for a mere 125 open positions.

Wouldn’t it occur to an education oriented mayor that – maybe – steps should be taken to support the popular and effective alternative to public education’s underperformance? Of course, this is the problem with government: We invest in cronyism… Not results. Do you care about the kids? Help “22 Success” expand their foot print. Do you care more about support from a major Democrat constituency? Well, then you should kick 700 kids out of charter schools and bow to the union that has fundamentally under-delivered on their educational responsibility to needy communities.

Then again de Blasio’s war on the bourgeois aspirations of low income New Yorkers aligns more with the crony mentality of labor unions, than the rhetoric he employed during stump speeches… After all, why should successful endeavors to educate our youth be rewarded when there are so many due-paying members in the United Federation of Teachers?

In the end, to the de Blasio-style liberal, the betterment of children doesn’t matter. The concerns of impoverished families who look to charter programs as a “way out” for their kids, are insignificant to the rookie mayor. (And just to drive this point home: The mayor recently called the public protest, in support of the 700 kids who will be losing their charter program, a “side show”.) See, taking steps to actually help the poor might damage the constituency of a crony Progressive who received massive amounts of campaign funding from teacher unions. Unions who, by the way, feel threatened by out-performing non-union entities, such as charter schools.

So, sorry hopeful families of the “22 Success” program… If you’re concerned about one of the 700 kids who are about to lose their position in a charter school, then thank de Blasio’s love for teacher unions; because it’s apparently stronger than his dedication to the betterment of disenfranchised communities.

Apparently, helping the underprivileged is only “progressive” when you have the support of wealthy union backers…


Michael Schaus

Michael Schaus is the Associate Editor for Townhall Finance, and the Executive Producer for Ransom Notes Radio. He is a former talk show host and political activist. Having worked in fields ranging from construction to financial investment, his perspectives and world views are forged with a deep understanding of what it means to be an American.
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