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House Majority Leader Visits Bronx Charter School Amid Feud with Mayor

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It's not often that a conservative leader in Washington travels to New York to highlight, praise and learn from something the city is doing, but that's exactly what happened Monday in the Bronx, as Eric Cantor came to the Bronx to visit a charter school. NY1's Lindsey Christ filed the following report.

Most of the politicians who tour city schools represent city voters, but Monday, a Republican from Virginia spent time at the Bronx Charter School for Excellence.

This was House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's first trip to see a city charter school, but he went after Mayor Bill de Blasio's policies on them back in January, even threatening to hold hearings in Washington.

"How many families are going to have their choice taken away if Mayor de Blasio pursues these policies?" Cantor said in January.

"I don't typically look for education advice from Eric Cantor," de Blasio said in January.

The mayor's charter school ideas, like charging rent for their use of public school buildings, were blocked in Albany before they could ever take effect. In April, Governor Andrew Cuomo pushed through legislation that gave charters more protection and power in New York than anywhere else.

Cantor said he came here to highlight a charter school environment that he thinks the rest of the country should emulate, and even mentioned Cuomo by name as partly to thank.

"This is the largest school district in the country and by the Brookings Institution, has been labeled the most successful charter school district in the country," Cantor said. "We want to replicate that."

On Friday, the House passed a bill that would expand the federal funding available to charter schools.

While expanding charter school funding is one of the most hot-button political issues in the city, in Washington, it's one of the few issues that's not controversial. The House voted in favor of expanded funding 360 to 45, and a similar bill moving through the Senate also has bipartisan support.

However, the federal money would still be relatively little. Like most education policy, the vast majority of regulation and funding for charter schools comes from cities and states, and Cantor acknowledged that Virginia has lagged behind.

"We're not even anywhere near where the progress is in New York City, so we're trying to get up to speed on that," Cantor said.

So while he's been interested in the fight in the city, as a charter school supporter, it would seem there's a lot more work for him to do back home.

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