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Joe Lhota slams Bill de Blasio’s “hypocrisy” on charter schools

On the eve of a citywide march to support charter schools, Republican mayoral candidate Joe Lhota is taking aim at Democrat Bill de Blasio’s position on the publicly financed but privately managed schools.

De Blasio has said he does not want the city’s charter sector to expand, and he also has said he would charge rent to the roughly two thirds of city charter schools that currently operate rent-free in public space. (Lhota supports charter schools but is not attracting wide support from charter school advocates for pragmatic reasons, we reported on Friday.)

In a Sunday press release, Lhota said those positions are at odds with de Blasio’s professed desire to reduce inequality in the city because charter schools, which on average have higher test scores than the other schools in their neighborhoods, serve mainly poor students.

“There is no way he can be concerned about breaking the cycle of poverty while being opposed to charter schools,” Lhota said in a statement.

Calling de Blasio a “hypocrite,” Lhota also pointed out that de Blasio’s own high school alma mater in Cambridge, Mass., shares some similarities with contemporary charter schools.

Lhota’s complete press release is below:

HYPOCRITE BILL: SCHOOL CHOICE BAD FOR NYC KIDS BUT OK FOR MY FAMILY AND POLITICAL PALS

Shocking Double Standard Reveals True Tale of Two Cities

New York, NY—October 6, 2013…Hypocrite Bill strikes again, the Lhota campaign today charged upon learning Mr. de Blasio attended an alternative high school, yet is seeking to deny New York City parents similar choices through his opposition of charter schools.

As published in today’s Daily News, Mr. de Blasio attended the “artsy Pilot School, an alternative high school that operated quasi-independently within Cambridge Rindge and Latin, the city’s main public school.” The Pilot School also chose kids by lottery, the same system used by New York City Charter Schools.

Mr. de Blasio’s son also attends a specialized public school that has a 96 percent rating in college readiness and it was reported last week that Mr. de Blasio pulled strings to get his political ally, Congresswoman Yvette Clark’s nephew into his school of choice, MS 51 in affluent Park Slope.

“The real tale of two cities is the one Bill de Blasio wants for himself and his powerful friends and the one where everyday New Yorkers are struggling under his harmful policies,” said Mr. Lhota. “His war on charter schools is carrying the water of the unions at the expense of our children’s future. Charter schools are working and we should be expanding school choice for parents, not limiting it—especially to people in power. There is no way he can be concerned about breaking the cycle of poverty while being opposed to charter schools.”

  • Mr. Lhota has proposed doubling the number of charter schools, while expanding co-location. In contrast, Mr. de Blasio’s plans to end co-location will essentially kill charter schools who do not receive capital funds to build their own space. Mr. de Blasio has been quoted saying, “we don’t need more charters” and “there is no way in hell that Eva Moskowitz should get free rent, okay? … It is insult to injury to give them free rent,” referring to the largest charter school operator in the city.
  • Charter schools have been enormously successful, with 50,000 parents on waitlists to get their kids enrolled.
  • 92% of charter school students are African-American and Hispanic, many from low-income neighborhoods.
  • A recent study from Save Our States reported that charters in public school buildings cost roughly $3,000 less per student than traditional public schools.

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