Progressive Lawmakers Face Off with Hochul to Oppose Plan for More Charter Schools
By: Hellen Zaboulani
New York State Gov. Kathy Hochul is again at odds with Democrats in state legislature.
As reported by the NY Post, left-leaning legislators and unions are standing up to Gov. Hochul, to oppose her bid to allow over 275 new charter schools to open in New York City. The governor, who wants to leave the state cap intact, has opened up to creating added charter schools in the city, by adding money to the state budget to reissue charters held by so-called “zombie” schools which no longer operate. “I believe every student deserves a quality education, and we are proposing to give New York families more options and opportunities to succeed,” Hochul said in a Feb. 1 statement before unveiling her proposed budget with the charter allowance. Charter supporters like Eva Moskowitz, founder of Success Academies, have praised the effort, citing a strong parent preference to the publicly funded, privately managed schools which don’t use union teachers.
Progressive lawmakers, however, have been opposing the charter schools for years, and are now poised to stand up to Hochul once again. Per the Post, in late January, Hochul’s fellow Democrats opposed her choice for chief judge, Hector LaSalle, giving her the embarrassing distinction of becoming the first governor in the state’s history to have her judicial nomination voted down.
The liberal legislators are now slamming the governor’s budget for the charter allowance. “We have enough charter schools in New York City and we don’t need anymore … hell no,” said state Sen. Robert Jackson (D-Manhattan) on Friday outside of City Hall. Other state Senators to join the opposition included John Liu (D-Queens), Shelley Mayer (D-Yonkers), Jessica Ramos (D-Queens), Cordell Cleare (D-Manhattan) and Jabari Brisport (D-Brooklyn). “While the governor is giving with one hand full funding … she’s yanking the rug out from [another] by diverting money potentially to charter schools and that is not right,” said Liu, a longtime charter opponent, who chairs the Senate NYC Education Committee.
Also, Michael Mulgrew, president of the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) that reps 140,000 members citywide, joined to oppose the charters. The union leaders oppose the charter schools because of their use of non-unionized teachers and employees. The New York State United Teachers (NYSUT), a statewide union that reps UFT, is also against the charter schools and it will take a good deal of guts on Hochul’s part to defy them. NYSUT doled out $25,000 to Senate Democrats on Jan. 13, and also supported Hochul’s latest campaign for a full term as governor.
While the embattled governor may lose clout with some of the unions as well as lefty legislators, in the long run she may gain favor in the eyes of her constituents, many of whom are parents who have been pushing for more charter schools. “She believes in the issue obviously and sees her path to success now and in 2026 re-election against a downstate-dominant legislature which has been unsupportive and opposes charter schools — still quite popular in minority communities,” political consultant Hank Sheinkopf told The Post.
One Democratic legislator told the Post that Hochul may not be able to pull through in the charter battle, but is showing she cares. The Albany insider expects the charter proposals in Hochul’s budget won’t be passed in the Assembly. “The Assembly has traditionally been the bulwark against charter expansion. This is a thumb in the eye of the Speaker,” the source told the Post.