Charter school rally in Albany overshadows push for pre-K
Gov. Andrew Cuomo once again met with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on Tuesday, but not before making a surprise appearance at a rally full of implicit barbs at the mayor’s charter school policies.
The two men attended rallies that competed for airtime, if not substance, early Tuesday afternoon in Albany.
Cuomo stood before a sea of about 11,000 parents, teachers and students in matching yellow shirts chanting the governor’s name before he spoke.
“We need new ideas. Einstein said insanity is doing the same thing over and over and over again and expecting a different result,” Cuomo told the audience, adding that the education industry has promised change in exchange for money for decades without any results.
“It’s not just about putting more money in the public school system,” he said. “It’s trying something new, and that’s what charter schools are all about.”
Cuomo argued that New York spent more money per student than any other state, and yet lags far behind in national numbers.
“I am committed to ensuring charter schools have the financial capacity, the physical space and the government support to thrive and to grow,” he added.
Cuomo began his brief address in front of the Capitol’s steps by calling the audience beautiful, shouting how “fired up” he was to save charter schools.
Parent Nicole Pacheco-Rosario, who said she has two children at a Brooklyn charter school, took to the mic at the rally and flipped one of the mayor’s rhetorical devices on the administration.
“We’re here in Albany to put an end to the tale of two school systems,” she said to cheers and hollers. “A charter school is a public school.”
The rally came days after de Blasio reversed the previous administration’s approval for co-location of three charter schools inside public school buildings.
De Blasio has also long argued in favor of charging rent to charter schools that are financially able to cover the cost, including those operated by educator and former Councilwoman Eva Moskowitz’s Success Academy program — which oversees the three schools turned away by de Blasio last week.
New York Senate Majority Coalition Leader Jeff Klein promised the rally’s attendees that he would ensure the upcoming state budget would protect their schools.
“I stand here today and make a commitment to you,” the Bronx lawmaker said. “In this year’s state budget, we’ll make sure charter schools continue.”
Minutes earlier, de Blasio spoke at an event nearby in support of his universal prekindergarten plan.
The mayor told reporters he was hoping to sit with Cuomo today, and the two ended up spending two hours behind closed doors after their respective rallies.
When de Blasio eventually stepped out of the meeting he declined to reveal details of the conversation, but admitted to having seen some lines from the governor’s speech.
According to Newsday, the mayor said the governor kept his remarks broad.
“The bottom line is what we have said about charter schools — that we are ready to work with charter schools,” de Blasio said.
Follow Chester Jesus Soria on Twitter @chestersoria