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Open Letter-Marching in a Different Direction (10!8!13)

Open Letter-Marching in a Different Direction (10!8!13)

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Published by GothamSchools.org

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Published by: GothamSchools.org on Oct 08, 2013
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02/12/2014

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An Open Letter to the PublicMarching, in a Different Direction
October 8, 2013
Today, several charter schools will march to City Hall to protest potential education policiesespoused by Mayoral Candidate Bill de Blasio. We, the undersigned, a group of independentcharter schools, feel strongly that such an action is wholly unwarranted, and if left unrebutted,could easily be construed as representing the consensus of the majority of the public charter school sector. Nothing could be further from the truth: the majority of public charter schools willnot be participating in this march, nor do they support it.Instead, a consensus of independent charter schools and charter management organizationsseek constructive dialogue with each of the candidates. Instead of inviting our parents to protestthe very candidate many of them likely voted for in the Democratic Primary, we’d like to invitethe candidates to tour our schools and meet with our students and families. Instead of opposition and protest, we seek unity around the singular issue that everyone involved agreeson: all of our City’s children deserve a world class education, and providing such must be our top priority, by any means necessary.We feel that this march sends entirely the wrong message for two important reasons:First, such a march seems at best premature. It is important to keep in mind that there is a widegap between stumping and governing. Sound bites do not equal legislation. Given this reality, itis difficult to know exactly what such a march is protesting. To be sure, charging public charter schools for co-locations in public school buildings for serving their public school studentssounds counterintuitive: never before has any public school been charged rent for serving publicschool students. We can see no reason why that should start now. The mere fact that somecharter schools raise significant private funds (and to be sure some of us raise barely any fundsat all), should not be used as justification for charging public schools rent to co-locate in publicschool buildings. A number of public schools across the City (e.g. Anderson, P.S. 6, P.S. 290,P.S. 87, etc.), raise millions of dollars through private sources, and like us, these schools shouldnot be asked to pay rent either. In truth, such contributions put into action the very strategy Mr.de Blasio seeks to deploy across his platform: ask the wealthy (private donors) to give a littlemore (donations) to help those who have less (73% of charter school students qualify for Title Ipoverty aid). Such supporters of our public schools should be applauded (and encouraged to domore).Second, if we focus on the substance of Mr. de Blasio’s platform, it would seem that there ismuch to celebrate, not protest. A major pillar of his campaign has been a focus on the 99%, thesame commitment embedded deep within the missions of nearly every public charter school (aswell as the Charter Schools Act itself). Many charter schools (including ours) already advocatefor the very initiatives he champions: quality Pre-K for every student; wider availability of out-of-school time academic and enrichment programs; and high quality instruction that preparesstudents for college and career success. We even share a similarly strong commitment to joinour voices to those exhorting an increase investment of resources to improve the attendantsocio-economic indicators that so dramatically impact our students’ success in the classroom:quality employment for their parents, affordable housing for their families, and safeneighborhoods for their community.Tens of thousands of constituents across our City have children who attend and love our publiccharter schools, and tens of thousands more would like the opportunity to send their child to

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