New York

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.

What's Your Education Story?

As the 2018 school year begins, join us for storytelling from Indianapolis educators

PHOTO: Dylan Peers McCoy/Chalkbeat
Sarah TeKolste, right, and Lori Jenkins at a Teacher Story Slam, in April.

In partnership with Teachers Lounge Indy, Chalkbeat is hosting another teacher story slam this fall featuring educators from across the city.

Over the past couple of years, Chalkbeat has brought readers personal stories from teachers and students through the events. Some of our favorites touched on how a teacher won the trust of her most skeptical student, why another teacher decided to come out to his students, and one educator’s call to ramp up the number of students pursuing a college education.

The event, 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 13, is free and open to the public — please RSVP here.

Event details:

5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018
Tube Factory artspace
1125 Cruft St., Indianapolis, IN 46203
Get tickets here and find more on Facebook

More in What's Your Education Story?

School safety

Hiring more security officers in Memphis after school shootings could have unintended consequences

PHOTO: Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post/Getty Images

Tennessee’s largest district, Shelby County Schools, is slated to add more school resource officers under the proposed budget for next school year.

Superintendent Dorsey Hopson earmarked $2 million to hire 30 school resource officers in addition to the 98 already in some of its 150-plus schools. The school board is scheduled to vote on the budget Tuesday.

But an increase in law enforcement officers could have unintended consequences.

A new state law that bans local governments from refusing to cooperate with federal immigration officials could put school resource officers in an awkward position.

Tennessee Education Commissioner Candice McQueen recently reminded school personnel they are not obligated to release student information regarding immigration status. School resource officers employed by police or sheriff’s departments, however, do not answer to school districts. Shelby County Schools is still reviewing the law, but school board members have previously gone on the record emphasizing their commitment to protecting undocumented students.

“Right now we are just trying to get a better understanding of the law and the impact that it may have,” said Natalia Powers, a district spokeswoman.

Also, incidents of excessive force and racial bias toward black students have cropped up in recent years. Two white Memphis officers were fired in 2013 after hitting a black student and wrestling her to the ground because she was “yelling and cussing” on school grounds. And mothers of four elementary school students recently filed a lawsuit against a Murfreesboro officer who arrested them at school in 2016 for failing to break up a fight that occurred off-campus.

Just how common those incidents are in Memphis is unclear. In response to Chalkbeat’s query for the number and type of complaints in the last two school years, Shelby County Schools said it “does not have any documents responsive to this request.”

Currently, 38 school resource officers are sheriff’s deputies, and the rest are security officers hired by Shelby County Schools. The officers respond and work to prevent criminal activity in all high schools and middle schools, Hopson said. The 30 additional officers would augment staffing at some schools and for the first time, branch out to some elementary schools. Hopson said those decisions will be based on crime rates in surrounding neighborhoods and school incidents.

Hopson’s initial recommendation for more school resource officers was in response to the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, that killed 17 people and sparked a wave of student activism on school safety, including in Memphis.

Gov. Bill Haslam’s recent $30 million budget boost would allow school districts across Tennessee to hire more law enforcement officers or improve building security. Measures to arm some teachers with guns or outlaw certain types of guns have fallen flat.


For more on the role and history of school resource officers in Tennessee, read our five things to know.


Sheriff’s deputies and district security officers meet weekly, said Capt. Dallas Lavergne of the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office. When the Memphis Police Department pulled their officers out of school buildings following the merger of city and county school systems, the county Sheriff’s Office replaced them with deputies.

All deputy recruits go through school resource officer training, and those who are assigned to schools get additional annual training. In a 2013 review of police academies across the nation, Tennessee was cited as the only state that had specific training for officers deployed to schools.