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Pataki: New Mayor 'Cuts Charter Schools off at Knees'

Image: Pataki: New Mayor 'Cuts Charter Schools off at Knees'

By Melanie Batley   |   Monday, 10 Mar 2014 07:56 AM

Former Gov. George Pataki has blasted New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio for his  decision to cut off building funds and public space for charter schools, and the mayor  now faces three new lawsuits over the issue.

"De Blasio is cutting charter schools off at the knees," Pataki told The New York Post.  "It's an outrageous abuse of political power."

He added, "This is about empowering the educational monopoly and bureaucracy at the expense of children. If they cared about children, they wouldn't take this choice away. It's about politicians wanting control. It's about the political left trying to control everything."

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De Blasio has cut $210 million in building funds for charter schools, aborted space-sharing arrangements for three schools, and plans to charge some charter schools rent for operating in city-run facilities, reversing the policy of former mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Pataki pushed through the city's first school-choice legislation in the 1990s, overcoming intense resistance, and established an initial charter school law in 1998, the Post reported.

De Blasio has already been roundly criticized by parents and charter school advocates who say the policies are an assault on poor and minority children who have seen the greatest educational benefits from the system.

Meanwhile, three new lawsuits have been launched to try to halt the mayor's policy.

The Success Academy, a charter-school network, is filing a federal civil-rights lawsuit to overturn the decision that would prevent Central Harlem middle school from sharing space with a public school, according to the Post.

Success officials are also filing a case in the state capital Albany to try to reverse de Blasio's decision to prevent two new Success Academy elementary schools from opening despite the applications having been approved by Bloomberg.

De Blasio's office has defended his decisions as fair and equitable.

"The administration is already taking steps to resolve concerns we have received by some parents. In our decision, we set consistent, objective, commonsense standards — most importantly protecting students with disabilities," Phil Wolzak, a City Hall spokesman, told the Post.

"We remain deeply committed to the rights of all students, and ensuring every child has access to a great education."

Former Mayor Rudy Guiliani has also blasted the administration's approach, and de Blasio looks set for a stand-off with Gov. Andrew Cuomo who had promised parents that he would guarantee charter schools are funded and that they have the physical space to operate.

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