Hochul won’t support charter school expansion due to union backing, critics say

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Governor Kathy Hochul refuses to use her political power to promote the expansion of popular charter schools after being endorsed by the powerful teachers’ union, which opposes private schools.

A state law limits the number of charter schools that can open in New York City and there are 11 proposed charter schools that are stuck on a waiting list because the cap has already been reached.

Charter school advocates point out that the powerful statewide teachers’ union, New York State United Teachers — an enemy of charter schools — endorsed Hochul’s candidacy for a full term as governor on Jan. 21. She replaced the ex-governor. Andrew Cuomo, who resigned last August amid a sexual harassment scandal.

“I’m sure the NYSUT endorsement has an impact on Hochul. If Hochul doesn’t support charter schools, I can only assume it’s because of the NYSUT endorsement,” said Eric Nadelstern, who served as Vice Chancellor of Schools under Mayor Mike Bloomberg.

A state law limits the number of charter schools allowed to operate in New York City. Critics argue that Governor Hochul is refusing to expand charter schools because of teachers‘ union approval.
Richard Harbus

“Hochul is unwilling to spend political capital on charter schools before she is elected to her first full term,” he further charged. “The charter school debate has become a polarizing issue.”

Nadelstern said that’s largely because teachers’ unions have outsized influence over education policy and among Democrats who lead the state legislature.

“Unfortunately, they are on the wrong side of charter schools. It is inadmissible to oppose [raising] the charter school cap,” he said. “Children need better schools and we need to explore ways to create them and charter schools are one of them.”

Former New York Governor George Pataki told the Post that Governor Kathy Hochul’s endorsement of the teachers’ union is “troubling.”
James Messerschmidt for NY Post

Former three-term governor George Pataki, who approved the state’s first charter school law in 1999, also expressed concern that Hochul would not champion charter expansion because of the approval. from NYSUT.

“It is worrying that the force most opposed to education reform and charter schools, the teachers’ union, is strongly behind Hochul. The endorsement is very troubling,” Pataki told The Post on Tuesday.

“If you count on the support of the teachers’ union, you’re not going to fight for the reform that students and parents in New York City need.”

Eva Moskowitz
Eva Moskowitz, CEO of New York’s largest charter school, Success Academy, says opposing charter schools are denying children opportunities.
BRIGITTE STELZER

A NYSUT spokesperson said: ‘We believe systemic issues in the charter industry need to be addressed and operators need to comply with the Education Act before authorizers approve applications. additional charters, raise grade levels and the state lifts the cap.”

There is more resistance than support for raising the cap on charter schools among Democratic lawmakers with union ties who have influence over education policy.

“There are very few elected officials who call for raising the ceiling. I don’t see that happening,” said Assembly Education Committee Chairman Michael Benedtto (D-Bronx), a charter school hater. “The status quo will be maintained.”

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Albany Democrats affiliated with the powerful teachers’ union are broadly opposed to raising the charter school cap.
Getty Images

Benedetto also said that Hochul had been silent on the matter, at least as far as incitement to the legislature was concerned.

Hochul, at a Post editorial board meeting last week, said of the cap, “I know how important it is. really. I have heard from many leaders. I have spoken to the leaders of many charter schools. And I know what they are doing is important, but I also recognize that there must be a desire on the part of the legislature to accomplish that as well.

Charter advocates said Hochul and lawmakers are denying the educational opportunity by refusing to let charter school operators expand.

“To oppose new charter schools is to deny opportunity to working children and families. If NYC wants to recover, we need to make sure all kids have access to great schools — why would anyone object? asked Eva Moskowitz, former city councilman and founder and CEO of the city’s largest charter operator, Success Academy.

Meanwhile, Benedetto said he was “taking the temperature” of his fellow lawmakers on his bill to strip the State University of New York of its power to approve charter schools. SUNY, along with the Board of Regents, are the two authorizers.

The Benedetto bill, co-sponsored by State Senator John Liu, would give the Board of Regents — who have been more hostile to charters — the final say on whether to approve or reject new charters.

The Post reported Monday that students at charter schools operating in New York City and approved by SUNY significantly outperformed traditional public schools on state English and math exams.

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