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Next battle ground: Privatization of public schools
The city's 1 percent had a victory party this week.
Hundreds of financiers, according to Business Insider, gathered at Cipriani in midtown to raise money for Success Academy Charter Schools, which has been at war with the mayor. Bigwigs sighted there included hedge fund managers John Paulson and Paul Singer, among others.
The crowd had much to celebrate. It raised a reported $7.7 million for Eva Moskowitz's charters.
When Mayor Bill de Blasio vowed during last year's campaign not to give Moskowitz "free rent" for her charter schools, he was currying favor with public school parents. Once in office, he tried to deny space to three of Moskowitz's schools, while approving plans to house 14 other charters in public buildings.
Now, de Blasio has found space for the three schools -- in Catholic school buildings at taxpayer expense -- and the charter school lobby, well funded by the city's finance sector, is more politically organized than ever. It is ready to fight any further curbs on what I consider school privatization.
Through de Blasio's fight with Moskowitz -- a long-running feud that dates to their City Council days -- the mayor has missed the opportunity to advance an important principle: Public school policy shouldn't be driven by Moskowitz or the crowd that met at Cipriani. Public schools should be run by officials elected by the voters.
The scores of revelers at Cipriani on Monday would rather redefine quality public education as a marvelous favor bestowed by the elite upon a very lucky few.
This elite does not need to figure out how to educate the underperforming or ill-behaved kids who aren't welcome in many charters. These hedge fund managers don't have to worry that charters are worsening segregation patterns in the city's schools.
Members of the elite who run charters need not fret about the impact of charters on our public schools because they are not elected or paid by the public, and they don't oversee anyone who is. That's what privatization looks like.
And that's what the mayor needs to be talking about.
Liza Featherstone lives and writes in Clinton Hill.