Back in 2008, when Senator Obama was running against Senator McCain, something unusual happened in the final minutes of their third and very contentious, partisan debate. They agreed on something: charter schools were a good thing. They agreed on this one issue because charter schools when done right (as in NYC) are a good thing.
Now, that candidate de Blasio has become Mayor de Blasio, something similar has happened with the editorial boards at three of NYC’s newspapers: they agree that our city’s charter schools are a good thing. Other than “the obvious” issues like ending hunger and achieving world peace, that doesn’t happen very darn often, particularly because these three newspapers – The New York Times, the New York Daily News and the New York Post – each has such a distinct voice and set of beliefs. In other words, this agreement on charters is both natural (given parent demand and charter performance) and yet a big deal.
Look, newspapers don’t run governments: elected officials do and Mayor de Blasio won by a landslide. We’ve been around long enough to figure that out. That’s why we need to be hopeful that Mayor de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Fariña come to express their support for charters publicly in the same way these editorial boards have, in many ways acting as a voice for the tens of thousands of parents that have made charter schools the educational choice for their children.
Regardless, it’s good to know that if Mayor de Blasio and Chancellor Fariña feel that the charter sector, and more importantly, parent choice, should be constricted and school leaders not be given the opportunity to open new schools, (which, personally, I don’t think they will), they’ll face a very loud, very influential and very united opposition from both the press and from tens of thousands of parents. It’s also worth noting that given the heavy exposure these papers are giving to charter schools, demand among NYC parents for more charter schools will only continue to grow. After all, these parents, like all parents, won’t wait until their neighborhood school is fixed (however noble that goal) to find a school that will help their child succeed. Nor should they have to.