Cuomo suggests ‘legislative fix’ for charter co-locations

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Andrew Cuomo. (AP Photo/Tim Roske)
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ALBANY—Two days after he fired up thousands of charter school advocates, Governor Andrew Cuomo praised their movement during a radio interview and said he would look into a “legislative fix” on the issue of co-location.

His comments come after New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who has been critical of charter schools, reversed three authorizations made by his predecessor to allow new charters to set up shop in public school facilities.

“The Bloomberg Administration was a pro-charter school administration … much of the law as written gives the mayor a lot of control because people wanted charter schools developed, and that's what Mike Bloomberg was doing,” Cuomo said on “The Capitol Pressroom,” a syndicated public radio program.

Cuomo called co-location a “technical issue” and suggested he'd like to help the charters in some way: “The question becomes, what should the criteria for co-location be? And if you're against co-location, then what's the alternative for a charter school?”

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Experts say Cuomo's aid could simply involve more money, which seems obvious, to help pay rent or give the groups access to some other financing mechanism. Cuomo was clear on one point: he sees charter schools (whose backers have helped stuff his campaign coffers) as the “only point of innovation” in an educational “bureaucracy.”

“I believe the charter school movement is important. I want to see it continue. I want to see it grow,” Cuomo said. “I think we have failed and the public education system has not improved the way it should. That's what the test scores say.”

Charters are yet another issue where the governor has lined up opposite the mayor, and Cuomo was joined by the bi-partisan heads of the ruling coalition in the State Senate—Jeff Klein and Dean Skelos—at the Tuesday charter rally. But speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Democratic Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver showed none of the same enthusiasm.

“I don't understand the crisis today,” he said. “The fact is that there are co-located schools all over the city, and 14 of them were approved by the mayor, three were not. All of this focus on the three that were not—there were valid reasons that they were not.”