Will Cain published the third episode of his video series Alise vs The Mayor on the fight over charter schools in New York City for The Blaze yesterday. This episode’s title is “Check,” but it might be better titled as Cuomo vs DeBlasio. Bill DeBlasio shut down several charter schools, including the high-performing Success Academy locations, as part of his payback to the teachers unions that supported him in his bid for mayor. Andrew Cuomo, on the other hand, has come out loudly for charter schools across the state, noting that New York spends the most per student on education but only ranks 30th in results.
Cuomo headlined an Albany rally with 11,000 students, parents, and teachers last March to save charter schools at roughly the same time DeBlasio headlined a union-backed event with 500 attendees. Cuomo demanded a focus on students, while DeBlasio offered expansion of school jobs for unions to fill. The difference is stark, and defining:
This battle between Cuomo and DeBlasio has been brewing for months, and Success Academy is a specific and personal target for DeBlasio as well. Will noted this in one of his earlier episodes, but the New York Times covered it three months ago too:
In New York City, the issue is further complicated by the personal dynamics between the new mayor and one of the movement’s chief proponents, Eva S. Moskowitz, a former city councilwoman.
The two frequently clashed, and Mr. de Blasio singled her out when he voiced his frustration over the educational priorities in the city.
Ms. Moskowitz now runs Success Academy Charter Schools, a nonprofit group, which runs a number of charter schools and was seeking to open more and to expand existing schools.
“She has to stop being tolerated, enabled, supported,” Mr. de Blasio said last year.
The schools that Mr. de Blasio targeted were all affiliated with Ms. Moskowitz’s organization.
On Tuesday, Mr. Cuomo deliberately singled out the Success Academy in his remarks, saying the goal was to change the culture of the schools, even if that meant bucking the teachers’ unions.
“We know that too many public schools are failing,” he said. “We need new ideas.”
That battle will not come cost-free for Cuomo. He may draw a challenger from his left in the upcoming re-election campaign over the issue of charter schools:
Gov. Cuomo is trying to win the endorsement of the Working Families Party for reelection – but he has competition.
The party is considering a handful of people to be its nominee for governor, including Diane Ravitch, a noted education historian, Zephyr Teachout, a Fordham law professor, and Dan Cantor, the WFP’s national director, the Daily News has learned.
Ravitch, 75, expressed interest when approached by the minor party and is mulling the idea, sources said.
A vocal critic of charter schools, Ravitch would present a pointed contrast to Cuomo, who has pushed for charter school protections over the objections of Mayor de Blasio, a darling of the liberal-leaning party.
Watch episodes 1 & 2 of Will’s excellent series if you’re just seeing this for the first time, and be sure to watch my interview with Will — which includes a funny personal exchange at the end — from Tuesday.