De Blasio confronts charter-boosting ‘Morning Joe’ hosts

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Bill de Blasio on Morning Joe. (msnbc.com)
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Mayor Bill de Blasio took heat over his tough stance on charter schools during an appearance on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" on Monday, and countered that he's acting in defense of the many more students who go to traditional public schools.

Co-host Mika Brzezinski even brought up de Blasio's 16-year-old son Dante, who attends the prestigious Brooklyn Tech High School, in her criticism of de Blasio's recent decision to halt three charter schools from taking up residence in existing public schools through a controversial process known as co-location.

"Let me ask it this way mayor, with all due respect. Your son goes to--is it Brooklyn Tech? Has [a] $13 million endowment. It's a highly selective school. You're very excited I'm sure that he goes there. If you found out that he wasn't going there next year wouldn't you want to know what the plan was? Do you think you played this out in a way that might not have been effective?" she asked.

De Blasio said he will make clear that the three of 17 charter schools whose co-locations he recently stopped will be "accommodated" and reiterated that his "first obligation" is to traditional public-school students.

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He suggested the education debate should focus more on teacher retention than on charters.

Brzezinski also played a clip of de Blasio attacking the Bloomberg administration's close ties with charter school operator Eva Moskowitz during an education candidate forum during the mayoral campaign last year.

"Time for Eva Moskowitz to stop having the run of the place," he said during the event.

De Blasio pointed to Moskowitz's close ties to his predecessor, who was a major proponent of expanding charters, and referred to the "destructive impact" of Moskowitz's schools on the public schools they move into.

"It wouldn't happen if she didn't have a lot of money and power and political privilege behind her and if Department of Education didn't say 'yes ma'am' every single time and that's going to end when I'm mayor," he said.

"Given the destructive impact that her schools might have on public schools, which you'll have to explain to me, I just want to know after hearing that soundbite--is it personal?" Brzezinski asked.

Host Joe Scarborough interjected on behalf of Moskowitz, "By the way 77 percent are from low-income households; I think 90 percent are minorities."

De Blasio noted the entire school system of 1.1 million students is mostly made up of minority students.

He said he would find help alternate space for the students in the three charter schools whose co-locations he is holding up.

He also said his dispute with Moskowitz is "quite substantive, actually." He said his beef lies with the disruption to existing schools when charters move in.

De Blasio recently approved 14 or 17 charter co-locations that were pushed through at the end of the Bloomberg administration. He is being sued by Public Advocate Letitia James for allowing the co-locations that he did approve.