With the looming deadline to apply for federal Race to the Top education funds coming next week, Mayor Bloomberg and Schools Chancellor Joel Klein have been taking their call to increase the number of charter schools far and wide. This weekend, they took the word to church, reports Daily News writer Meredith Kolodner.
The Mayor traded in a Sunday he could have been spending in Bermuda for a trip to Canaan Baptist Church of Christ in Harlem, while Klein visited New Jerusalem Baptist Church in Jamaica. Both men preached the virtues of lifting the charter school cap, and the need to ditch “last in, first out” seniority rules when teachers are inevitably laid off.
The church Klein visited is also slated as the home of the Rochdale Early Advantage Charter School when it opens in the fall.
Klein and Bloomberg are pulling out all the stops to try to get their reforms passed before the June 1st “Race” deadline. Last week, both appeared at PS 214 in East New York alongside U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, state Senate President Malcolm Smith, and UFT President Michael Mulgrew, where Duncan himself called for an increase in the charter cap. For a group that included an Obama cabinet secretary, a Democrat-turned-Republican-turned “Independent” Mayor, the President of the Democratic controlled Senate, and the head of the city’s teachers’ union, the group seemed surprisingly unified behind the charter school movement. So much so that when NBC asked about nasty fliers UFT members had allegedly handed out about the charter school they had just visited, Mulgrew merely shook his head and disassociated the union’s involvement.
The State Senate has already passed the charter school increase bill. In order for certain innovation and reform points to be applied towards New York State’s “Race” application, the Assembly must pass similar legislation, and Governor Paterson must sign it into law, in the next week.