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Mayoral Candidates Discuss Charter Schools At Latest Forum

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Mayor Michael Bloomberg made charter schools a centerpiece of his education agenda, and now, charter school advocates want to know if those running to replace him will do the same. NY1's Bobby Cuza filed the following report.

Some have criticized the Democratic candidates for mayor for pandering to the teachers' union and its president, Michael Mulgrew, whose endorsement is a coveted prize.

On Tuesday night, they faced a very different crowd: charter school advocates, whose views are often opposed to the union's, and who booed and hissed candidate John Liu for his views on co-locating charter schools in public school buildings.

Two Democrats canceled their appearances: Bill de Blasio and William Thompson. Both cited scheduling conflicts, but earned criticism from organizers. Anthony Weiner got a warmer reception, noting that he's not opposed to co-locations, though he did say other options should be also considered.

"I'm open to the idea that maybe that space should go to a charter school," Weiner said. "I don't believe philosophically there's a problem with it, but I do believe that the first imperative should be to ask the question, how it is that we make that a good public school in the traditional sense."

Like Weiner, Quinn would also allow co-locations and wouldn't charge charter schools rent, but she did say she'd do things differently.

"I don't think the co-location process is perfect," Quinn said. "The Department of Education, when I'm mayor, we're going to do a better job making sure that resources get distributed to every school in a building evenly."

One of the no-show candidates, William Thompson, did make an education announcement Tuesday, promising more money to reimburse teachers for buying school supplies with money out of their own pockets. The announcement won praise from the teachers' union, which is poised to make its endorsement in the middle of next week.

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