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Charter School Rally to Compete With Pre-K Rally in Albany

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TWC News: Charter School Rally to Compete With Pre-K Rally in Albany
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On Tuesday, two rallies are expected in Albany, one for universal pre-k and the other for charter schools, but the charter school issue seems to be getting most of the attention. NY1's Zack Fink filed the following report.

Tuesday is known as Lobby Day in Albany, and for weeks, advocates for Mayor Bill de Blasio's pre-k plan have been planning to take their message here. However, they will have to compete for attention with a pro-charter school rally where 2,500 people are expected.

"Of course, there's people coming up here solely for the universal pre-kindergarten rally, there's some people that are coming solely for the charter school rally, and I think in the education system, ironically, at this point in time, we need both," said Assemblyman Karim Camara of Brooklyn.

De Blasio had pushed for a tax on the wealthy to fund universal pre-k in New York City, but Governor Andrew Cuomo has offered to pay for it with existing state money, and last month, Republican state Senate co-leader Dean Skelos said that he would not allow the de Blasio plan to even come to the floor for a vote.

Democratic Assembly members, however, still want to pass the de Blasio plan, even if it's just in their house.

"I know a number of members are recommending that we pass the de Blasio program in the Assembly one-house resolution and attempt to include it in the budget," said Assemblyman James Brennan of Brooklyn.

Last week, the de Blasio administration killed plans approved by the Bloomberg administration that would have allowed three charter schools to use additional public school space. The blocking of co-locations focused attention on Tuesday's rally, even as the issue has divided the state legislature.

"I am not against charter schools. I happen to be against co-location," said Assemblyman Keith Wright of Manhattan. "When I voted for the initial legislation in 1998, it was with the understanding that these charter schools would be getting their own buildings."

Supporters of charter schools can count on state Senate Republicans for support.

"It seems to me that those actions were taken without a thoughtful plan," said state Senator John Flanagan of Long Island. "How do you essentially go in and tell people they're out of a school building without having some alternative?"

Last month, Governor Andrew Cuomo told business leaders that he supports charter schools and would consider providing state funds for charter schools if they were kicked out of city buildings. However, the governor's office also denied a report that any legislation was discussed.

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