20,000 parents march to defend charter schools in New York City
Today’s WSJ column by Daniel Henninger reports that two days ago, on Tuesday, 20,000 African-American and Hispanic parents marched across the Brooklyn Bridge to New York City Hall. This is a very large number of people to be marching on the City. Why did they do this? These parents marched to defend their charter schools from a new threat: the leading candidate for mayor of New York City, Democrat Bill de Blasio. Mr. de Blasio is supported by the city’s teachers union.
Twenty thousand African-American and Hispanic parents marched because they fear that if Mr. de Blasio is elected, he will carry out his threat to demand rent payments from public charter schools. This would slowly starve charter schools of funds so they are forced to close.
Twenty thousand marching parents see access to charter schools as the civil rights issue of their time. Though these young 20 and 30- year-old parents were not alive when Martin Luther King gave his famous “I have a dream” speech 50 years ago at the Lincoln Memorial, the dream is very much alive for the 20,000 parents on the Brooklyn Bridge.
In New York City, the charter school movement began in 1999. Now nearly 200 charter schools teach about 70,000 students. 77% of the city’s charters are in Harlem, the South Bronx and Central Brooklyn. Innovative school operators like KIPP, Achievement First, Uncommon Schools and Harlem Village Academies, schools which successfully educate poor and minority students, will be forced to go away if Mr. de Blasio wins the election and carries out his threat.
Here in Washington state, the current threat to charter schools is the lawsuit the union filed over the summer against the charter school initiative. This week Washington Policy Center released a new study, “Summary of Lawsuit against Charter Schools,” a thorough analysis of the union’s claims. This analysis concludes that charter schools are just another innovative school program, very much like Running Start, Vocational Schools, and Online Schools, and other choices offered students outside the traditional school program.
The reality and promise of charter schools is well worth defending, for the sake of the dreams of the parents and the students here in Washington state.
This report is part of WPC’s Initiative 1240 Follow-up Project