Mayoral Hopeful Joe Lhota takes on Teachers’ Union

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The New York Post is reporting that Republican mayoral candidate Joe Lhota is backing the closing of failing schools and supporting the proliferation of charter schools. If elected, he vows to be a “champion of students – not the United Federation of Teachers.”

The “vow” was an obvious shot at Democrat mayoral candidates Bill Thompson, Bill de Blasio and John Liu. All three stood next to UFT boss, Mike Mulgrew, last week and pledged to temporarily prohibit the closing of “low-performing” schools, putting an end to a current city policy which allows charter schools to share space with traditional schools in public buildings.

“I support providing the best possible education to all of our children by putting them first. I do not support a moratorium on the closing of failing schools,” Lhota told the Post. “When our schools fail we must take action and do what is in the best interest of our children, not the UFT.”

Advocates of charter schools are worried that proscribing charter schools from “co-locating” in public school buildings would block new charger schools from opening, reports the New York Post. They claim that the cost of real estate and the rarity of private space make it unrealistic and almost impossible for charter schools to acquire their own space.

Currently, many city charter schools are located inside public school buildings, which is in par with a policy advocated by Mayor Michael Bloomberg following the objections of the teachers union and several parents at traditional public schools.

“While co-location between charter schools and traditional public schools is not ideal, we can not wait for new schools to be built,” Lhota said. “I strong support charter schools and believe we need even more of them.”

Education remains one of the most controversial issues in New York, and is expected to become one of the major deciding factors in the race for the city’s next mayor.

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