By SOPHIA ROTHMAN, age 10
Charter schools will now receive more money per pupil than public schools, due to a budget agreement reached by the New York State legislature and Governor Andrew Cuomo in March 2013. Gov. Cuomo’s decision clashes with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s controversial move in February to restrict charter schools’ usage of public school space for their classes. New York City has 183 charter schools, which are schools funded by both the government and private funds, and there are over 5,000 in the United States.
When he was campaigning, Mayor de Blasio pledged to fight for economic justice for all New Yorkers, and one way he planned to do that was to improve the quality of public education. De Blasio believes that charter schools take money and resources away from traditional public schools.
In an exclusive interview with IndyKids, Queens City Council Member Daniel Dromm remarked, “de Blasio didn’t get his message out as strongly as [charter school operator] Eva Moskowitz.” Charter supporters, he continued, “spent millions of dollars in an ad campaign to make charter schools look like the solution to public school problems.”
However, charter school supporters say that they create a different kind of learning environment for students and have flexible approaches to education. They also point out that the majority of charter school students are African-American and Latino children who would otherwise be attending underperforming public schools.
But there are different rules for charter schools. For example, teachers in charter schools are not required to have a teacher’s license or master’s degree. Most charter schools also have the option of not accepting learning disabled and English Language Learner students.
Q&A With Queens City Council Member Daniel Dromm
Sophia Rothman: Do you think that charter schools need changing? Why or why not?
Daniel Dromm: Charter schools lost their original purpose, which was to come up with innovative ideas, which could then be used in the public schools as well. Unfortunately, some people see it mostly as a way to make money. One example of this is when we hear about an executive director of a charter school getting paid around $500,000 a year. The Renaissance School in Jackson Heights is an example of what a charter school was supposed to be like. The school is unionized and listens to the community it serves.
SR: How would you summarize this current problem with Mayor de Blasio and charter schools?
DD: De Blasio didn’t get his message out as strongly as [charter school operator] Eva Moskowitz. She spent millions of dollars in an ad campaign to make charter schools look like the solution to public school problems.
SR: Is there anything else we should know about this issue?
DD: Governor Cuomo is handling the charter school movement unfairly. His budget allows for paying five times per student extra for charter schools over public schools.