In another development that does not bode well for the Bloomberg administration’s ability to get what it wants out of Albany on school issues, a state senator is signaling her opposition to the mayor’s plan to convert floundering Catholic schools into charter schools. The senator, Suzi Oppenheimer, who is the new chair of the senate’s education committee, volunteered her opinion in a video interview published today by the Journal News, a Westchester paper. The key remark:
By the way, I think in the last couple weeks we’ve seen that the mayor of New York City has been talking about taking the closed parochial schools and turning them into charter schools. I think what needs to be done is they need to remain regular public schools. Because we’ve set aside millions, billions, in order to create, build schools, but we’re finding it difficult to build them fast enough.
And here are school that could be utilized for the public system, save us money for not having to build those schools. That’s the direction that I would like to move the mayor’s idea about what to do with closed schools.
Liz Benjamin, who noticed the interview first, notes that Bloomberg gave money to Oppenheimer’s opponent in the senate race, a Republican, and that Oppenheimer enjoys the support of the state teachers union, which sometimes opposes charter schools.
In the interview, Oppenheimer said she doesn’t oppose charter schools — in fact, she likes their ability to innovate — but she does object to the way they are funded, which she said can deprive traditional public schools of per-capita dollars if their students leave to go to a charter school.