Determined to move beyond what he sees as a perilous distraction and to avoid the wrath of a well-financed charter-school movement, Mayor Bill de Blasio is now offering a kindler, gentler stance on charter schools and their future in New York City, reported The New York Times.
Initially, the mayor came out with guns blazing against the charter schools when, in early February, he yanked $210 million in capital funding from charters and called a moratorium on co-locations.
It appears he underestimated the strength of their numbers, bank account... and spine. In fact, charter schools and their backers represent perhaps the most formidable political threat to de Blasio and his freshman administration, the paper wrote.
On Sunday, during an appearance at Riverside Church in Harlem, de Blasio made clear that he would not swerve from his underlying agenda: focusing attention and resources on traditional public schools, by expanding access to prekindergarten and after-school programs.
But he offered a more conciliatory tone regarding the direction of charter schools-- one that referenced collaboration that did not sacrifice educational progress on either side.
The only problem is, his original allies in the movement-- public school teachers, parents and teacher's union-- are not backing down either. Their pockets are also heavy and their teeth have sharpened over the last 12 years while battling Bloomberg, a huge charter school proponent.
In fact, the United Federation of Teachers and New York State United Teachers unions have given collective $2.5 million to education groups, including the Alliance for Quality Education, all of whom systematically have attacked the mayor and the governor's support for charter schools, reported The Post.
The labor leaders defended the spending.
"We stand up for public schools," said Billy Easton, director of the Alliance for Quality Education. "AQE wants to provide every child the right to a quality education."
And Bloomberg agrees: At the service on Sunday, he said the answer was not to save a few children only [through charter schools]:
"The answer is not to find an escape route that some can follow and others can't," de Blasio said, but added, "The answer is to fix the entire system."