Bill de Blasio is the George Wallace of the 21st century.
Just as Alabama’s segregationist Democratic governor notoriously stood in the school door to deny quality education to disadvantaged black children in 1963, New York’s far-left Democrat mayor stands in the charter-school door to deny quality education to disadvantaged black children in 2014. De Blasio should hang his head in shame.
“We’re fighting to give everyone a fair shot,” de Blasio claimed on February 10. Evidently, this fight involves throwing thriving minority students out on the streets.
De Blasio also has promised to “implement a moratorium going forward,” to prevent any further co-locations of charter schools on traditional government-school campuses.
“A lot of [charters] are funded by very wealthy Wall Street folks and others,” de Blasio has said. “There’s a very strong private-sector element here.” So, de Blasio’s War on Charter School Students is just another theater in his overall class war against “the 1 percent.”
Meanwhile, de Blasio’s allies are red with rage against charters in general and the Success Academy schools in particular.
Echoing de Blasio’s anti-wealthy rhetoric, City Council speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito on Saturday decried “hedge fund backed charters.”
“They’re charter schools,” said Carmen Fariña, Gotham’s education chief. “They’re on their own.” Last Friday, Fariña visited a Harlem campus that houses three distinct government schools. She huddled with the principals of PS 149, a traditional school for grades K–8 as well as the Mickey Mantle School, a facility for special-needs students. Meanwhile, Danique Day Loving, principal of the Success Academy charter school, waited in her school hallway to meet Fariña. And she waited. And waited. Even though Loving and her charter school were co-located in the same building as the other two institutions, Fariña bolted without so much as laying eyes on the Success Academy or saying hello to the woman who runs it.
New York City councilman Daniel Dromm (D., Queens) has called a hearing for April in which he plans to interrogate Success Academy chief Eva Moskowitz (a former Democratic councilwoman in her own right). Dromm wants to know if Moskowitz and other charter leaders are crooks.
“This is an opportunity, if corruption were to exist,” Dromm said. “I can’t just let it go.”
Moskowitz, as the New York Post’s Aaron Short explained, “has never been accused of corruption even by her harshest critics.” The Post’s print headline nicely captured the absurdity of this hostile situation: “Union-pal pol to grill Eva (just in case).”
NYC public advocate Letitia James is going nuclear against charter-school students. She plans to ask a judge to halt the city-operated lottery that would allocate some 4,500 spots in charter schools for the 2014–15 academic year. If James succeeds, these motivated students would be tossed back into a system in which just 5 percent of blacks and 7 percent of Hispanics passed the entrance exam for New York’s nine elite, specialized, government high schools, such as Stuyvesant and Bronx Science. (On that exam, 26 percent of whites passed, as did 53 percent of Americans of Asian descent.)
In the end, Team de Blasio’s War on Charter School Students is all about control. These “experts” know best what’s best for people, especially minority parents who demand educational excellence, and they will mandate it — good and hard. And if some little black and brown kids have their futures crushed in the process, well, that sucks for them.
Control, of course, means staying in power. And that involves getting elected, which brings us to the teachers’ unions. They bankroll the Democratic party. As the Golden Rule states: “He who has the gold rules.”
New York’s United Federation of Teachers (UFT) almost exclusively backs Democrat politicians. So, when charters outpace government schools, they embarrass the folks who pay the Democrats’ bills. Thus the “get lost” notices for these Success Academy charters. While de Blasio has let other charters stay in place, he wants some to pay rent.
This doesn’t happen to regular government schools. De Blasio forgets that charter schools are government schools, too, only without the work rules, unaccountability, and near-absence of consequences for incompetence that plague too many traditional government campuses.
If charter students want to see de Blasio step out of the school door and let them learn, perhaps they should join the UFT. Atop George Wallace, de Blasio seems inspired by Albert Shanker, founder of the American Federation of Teachers.
As Shanker once said: “When school children start paying union dues, that’s when I’ll start representing the interests of school children.”
— Deroy Murdock is a Manhattan-based Fox News contributor and a media fellow with the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace at Stanford University.