Kathy Hochul has a golden chance to prove how much she cares about New York’s kids: The minute she takes office, she should begin a major push to raise the state cap on charter schools.
Hochul knows the issue well. In her first year as lieutenant governor, she joined Gov. Andrew Cuomo in the fight against unions that opposed public charter schools. At a charter-school rally in 2015, she stressed that it was time to “fix a broken system.” Six years later that system is still broken.
Now is the time for Hochul to put down her marker and become the “students’ lobbyist” Cuomo vowed to be, before losing interest.
Even the city’s Democratic voters will have her back. In a June survey, The Post found that nearly 61 percent of city Democrats supported school choice and lifting the cap on charter-school enrollment. The biggest support came from parents in The Bronx and Queens, where 72.7 percent and 62.3 percent of parents, respectively, supported bumping up the limit.
They know many of the city’s traditional schools are falling down on the job. Even some school staff have urged parents, like Queens mom Keisha Ellis, to find better schools for their high-achieving kids. And indeed, during the pandemic, many African-American families in Queens District 29 pulled their kids from local public schools and opted for private and charter schools — or simply moved.
Were it not for the cap, thousands more kids would be enrolled at quality charter schools as alternatives to the ones run by the city’s Department of Education.
Hochul can start by pushing legislation that makes the nearly 100 unused upstate charters usable by city-based ones. She can push to allow the awarding of revoked charters to new organizations and let them be reissued anywhere in the state, regardless of where the original charter was issued.
Only the powerful teachers unions, which run the traditional schools but not most of the charters and hate the competition, stand in her way. Yet students should count more.
And Hochul may have a powerful ally, too: Eric Adams, who’s expected to be the city’s next mayor and backs school choice and re-allocating of so-called “zombie” charters.
What a tremendous boon it would be for New York’s kids.
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