Governor Andrew Cuomo joined thousands of city parents, students, and educators Tuesday afternoon for a rally in support of charter schools. NY1's Zack Fink filed the following report.
They came by the busload from the five boroughs, 11,000 strong, including parents, teachers and students. It was the largest outdoor rally Albany has seen in years.
Braving frigid temperatures, supporters of charter schools enlisted some powerful allies in state government, including Governor Andrew Cuomo, who let charter parents know he had their back.
"I feel fired up!" he said. We are going to save charter schools, and you're making it happen by being here today."
The governor has been in favor of expanding charter schools, which seems to fly in the face of Mayor Bill de Blasio, who wants to limit their ability to co-locate in public school facilities.
"De Blasio, don't close our schools, please. We need them," said one person at the rally.
Last week, the de Blasio administration overturned a decision made by his predecessor and blocked the expansion of three charter schools, putting their ability to open this fall in doubt.
"My son is in Success Academy. I think they are doing a great job. They're giving him the tools he needs to go on in life," said one parent. "He's my kid. I got the right to choose."
Cuomo has said that he would consider using state funds to help charters that lose space in New York City public schools.
"Education is not about the districts and not about the pensions and not about the unions and not about the lobbyists and not about the PR firms," he said. "Education is about the students, and the students come first."
Lawmakers in Albany, even those who are close to de Blasio, say that they generally support charter schools but are against co-locations. They say that their understanding was that charters would have their own facilities, but the de Blasio administration recently moved to re-direct $210 million in funding that was intended to build charter schools.