The discussion over the addition of charter schools in New York City came into the spotlight once again when two different groups of parents held demonstrations in favor of the schools. On Tuesday, March 7th, a group of over 500 largely Black and Hispanic parents gathered outside City Hall and called for the number of charter schools in the city to be increased. The same call was made by a group of Asian-American parents who held a rally outside the Department of Education headquarters on Friday, March 10th.
The parents want to see the number of charter schools increased in order to have a variety of choices to make when picking a school for their children.
Governor Kathy Hochul has shown clear signs that she wants to see an increase in the number of charter schools. However, she has seen pushback from legislators who do not favor the lifting of the charter school cap.
The parents at the City Hall demonstration held up signs advocating for the right to choose a school for their children. Charter school grandmother Anyta Brown was present at the rally and said that legislators and politicians should fight for what is right for the children. Brown stated, “That cap has to be lifted…where does our money go? We should all have a voice for where our money goes. You’re all spending furiously on things that should not be needed, but we need education to be our top priority”
Only two politicians, Assembly members Brian Cunningham of Brooklyn and John Zaccaro of the Bronx, attended the demonstration.
“This choice is not a choice of saying that one doesn’t matter or the other. It is giving parents the choice to choose,” Cunningham said, as he called for an end to negative comparisons between traditional public schools and their charter counterparts.
Another parent whose child attends Kipp NYC College Prep charter made sure to note that 90% of students in charter schools are Black and Hispanic and that the opening of more schools would aid in closing the “racial achievement gap.” Kathryn Marrow said, “There are people of color who want to open up these charter schools, so they can assist the children of color who are undervalued.”
Similar sentiments were echoed at the demonstration outside the DOE headquarters. Parents were calling for the right to choose an education of a higher quality. Judy Wong, a parent with two children in the public school system, said, “We pay so many taxes. We have a right as parents and children to the best education, best schools, and best academics for all children.” Wong continued, saying all children “whatever the economic status or their race or the color of their skin or whatever their family background” deserve access and the opportunity to study in a charter school.
“Charter School is not my choice. It’s the parents’ choice! They told me they wanted it,” Assemblyman Lester Chang said. “I believe in the parental right to choose. And I believe in choices. That’s what democracy is all about to choose. If there’s no choice, then that’s autocracy.” Chang said his Republican colleagues were in support of Hochul’s proposal to expand the number of charter schools.
In her proposed budget, Governor Hochul proposed the addition of more charter schools in New York City. Currently, the city may only have a maximum of 287 schools and Hochuls wants to add an extra 85. Charter schools have been shown to perform better than their traditional counterparts. Some charter schools have a longer school day and year in addition to performing better than other schools in their areas.
Yiatin Chu, president and founder of the Asian Wave Alliance and parent, was present at the rally and said, “Charter schools have delivered results for New York City families and we should have a choice. Our public schools are failing us and they can’t trap us in this failing system. We need more choices, we need to lift the cap.”