Thousands of parents, students and teachers rallied in Brooklyn for charter schools and pressured elected officials for support. NY1's Lindsey Christ filed the following report.
Wednesday morning in Prospect Park, the hip-hop artist Common rapped to 20,000 parents and children about education.
"From schools to prison, y'all, they try to pipe us. To your political parties, invite us," Common rapped.
Common lent his star power to the latest show of force by city charter schools: a massive rally to pressure lawmakers into supporting the publicly funded but privately managed schools.
"Thousands and thousands of parents standing together for their kids' education. If that doesn't send a strong message, I don't know what to say," said Yvonne Guillen, a parent of a student at Girls Prep Bronx.
The majority of students came from Success Academy schools, the city's largest charter network, run by former City Councilwoman Eva Moskowitz, a longtime opponent of Mayor Bill de Blasio. As in the past, she closed her schools for the event.
The rally was headlined by two of de Blasio's potential challengers in 2017, Bronx Borough Present Ruban Diaz Jr. and Brooklyn Rep. Hakeem Jeffries.
"Every parent deserves an option to get your child something better," Jeffries said.
Neither would talk about whether they plan to run against the mayor, who has been less than enthusiastic about charters.
"Not that I don't have any plans, I just don't have an announcement for you today," Diaz said.
Speaking on the radio Wednesday morning, the mayor said Diaz and Jeffries were free to support charter schools.
"I think the focus has to be on the 90 percent of our kids in the traditional public schools who deserve better, and that's where our energies have to go," de Blasio said.
As of this year, 10 percent of city public school students attend charter schools. Charter organizers want that number to double, from 100,000 students to 200,000.
The number of schools is capped. There are currently 243 charters open or approved in the city, and just 32 more are allowed under state law.
"That's why we're trying to march, for other kids to have the same schools as us," said Emily Ortiz, a student at Success Academy Hell's Kitchen. "Well, not the exact same as us. But more better than they have now."
Common closed out the rally, even rapping about his "friend" Eva Moskowitz.