Thousands rally in Albany to support charter schools

February 07, 2017 05:31 PM

ALBANY -- As Betsy DeVos was confirmed as Secretary of Education in Washington D.C., 1,500 kids and adults from charter schools had their lobby day at the capitol in Albany.  

DeVos was a big supporter of charter schools in Michigan, even co-founding one. She opened the West Michigan Aviation Academy with her husband, Dick DeVos.   

The charter school advocates were in Albany for their annual lobby day, pushing lawmakers towards equitable funding. Charter schools get funding through the school district from state and local property taxes based on a formula.  

"Buffalo for example, receives 60 cents on the dollar that traditional district schools receive, we just want to make sure there is funding parity and equity," said Janeene Freeman, CEO Northeast Charter Schools Network.

We asked Freeman about newly confirmed education secretary Devos

"I don't know her personally, but what I do know is she's a charter supporter. And she recognizes parents deserve to have a choice," said Freeman.

The Constitution leaves education to the states.  And the education department says only about ten percent of funding comes from the federal government.  

"Ultimately, charter policy is made at the state level. In New York, we think we've struck a really good balance with accountability and getting results," said James Merriman, CEO of NYC Charter Schools Center.

And like in the state legislature, there's been support from both republicans and democrats.

"The great thing is charter schools have received bipartisan support from President Clinton to President Obama to President Bush to President Trump," said Freeman.

Charters were not as well recieved in Massachusetts.  Back in November, voters rejected a measure to create more charter schools in the state.  

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WNYT Staff

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