The UFT’s next anti-charter ploy
Look out: The United Federation of Teachers is gearing up to use a new tool in its war on public charter schools, by using the powers granted it under the “class-size reduction” law to stop the city from providing space to charters that are adding new grades.
After eight years of the UFT-loving de Blasio Department of Education routinely refusing to OK “co-locations” of new charter seats in half-empty buildings that host regular public schools, charters looked forward to an easier time growing under pro-charter Mayor Eric Adams and Chancellor David Banks.
But now we see a hidden angle to the class-size mandate that UFT boss Mike Mulgrew got the Legislature to impose on the city (only), which Gov. Kathy Hochul signed into law in September after an agreement to slow its impact: The gives the UFT a veto over any exemptions from the mandate, which Mulgrew means to use to block charter co-locations on the theory that they could increase class sizes in the public school that will share the building.
The Panel for Education Policy is approving new co-locations now; it just OK’d Success Academy’s request to share space at a middle school in the Rockaways. That prompted PEP member Tom Sheppard, a UFT ally, to tell Gothamist he wants the “whole process to slow down.”
That is, don’t grant three other Success requests until the new law takes effect and Mulgrew can try his power play.
Reality check: Enrollment in regular city public schools is down more than 7% since the pandemic began, with no sign of reversing course. That leaves an estimated 140,000 unused seats citywide to accommodate charter co-locations. And the five-year phase-in of the class size measure doesn’t begin until next September and won’t fully kick-in until 2028.
It’s the mayor’s and chancellor’s duty (and PEP’s) to look out for all city students, not just those with UFT teachers. And denying classroom space (which the city has in spades) to high-quality charter schools would harm the mostly black and Hispanic children they educate.
Adams, Banks & Co. need to hand Mulgrew a complete loss in this coming fight.
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