Former NY govs David Paterson, George Pataki demand more charters to help minorities

Two former New York governors told The Post they are pushing for more charter schools to give minorities a fighting chance at education.

Former Gov. David Paterson, a black Harlem native, helped increase the number of charter schools in the state more than a decade ago — and is applauding Gov. Kathy Hochul’s proposal for more as a win for black students.

“There was a racist view that black students were inferior. The charter schools blew that racist view out the window,’’ Paterson said.

“The fight over charter schools is one of the disputes that breaks my heart. We’re not thinking about the end product — the kids,” he said. “The charter schools deserve the accolades they get. They’re doing an excellent job.”

Former three-term Gov. George Pataki, who approved the law originally allowing charter schools in the state in 1998, said it is “absolutely” racist for elected officials to block the expansion of the publicly-funded, privately managed alternative schools.

Gov. Kathy Hochul is pushing to expand the number of charter schools.
Julia Nikhinson – CNP

Ex-Gov. Pataki
Ex-Gov. Pataki says it is “absolutely” racist to oppose more charters.
Serhii Hudak / Avalon

“It is immoral,’’ he said. “It is outrageous that the legislature would prevent mostly minority parents the opportunity to improve their children’s education.

“It’s simply discrimination and unfair … and there’s no excuse.

“Education is the civil rights issue of our time,’’ Pataki said.

“Opponents of charter schools are doing so at the behest of the teachers union and the educational establishment. The Democratic Left is so beholden to the teachers’ union and the educational establishment.

“The next time leftist Democrats complain about income inequality, hold them accountable and ask them why they don’t support increasing charter schools.

“Charter schools started out an experiment. The experiment has been a success. Kids are learning.

“There’s no reason for the cap to exist.”

Paterson recalled going to an event in Harlem, where a charter school held a lottery to select students, and seeing the anguish on the faces of parents whose kids weren’t chosen.

“The parents who didn’t get in were giving me a hard time. I don’t remember ever getting a reception like that,” he recalled.

Former Gov. David Paterson
Former Gov. David Paterson says city charter schools “are doing an excellent job.”
Getty Images/Cindy Ord

“I feel bad for the charter schools that were approved and are languishing on waiting lists to open,’’ the former gov said. “We have to put aside the politics and do what works and not do what doesn’t work.

“The legislature should give the governor some leeway. What Gov. Hochul is proposing is a good idea.”

Paterson’s thoughts were echoed by Ruben Diaz Sr., a Democratic former councilman and state senator who was one of the few elected officials who stood up for charter schools when he was in office and still does as head of the Bronx-based Hispanic Clergy Association.

“It’s racist to stop charter schools,’’ Diaz said.

“The legislature is controlled by black and Hispanics legislators, and they’re fighting the charter schools. Charter schools are helping black and Hispanic children. We need Gov. Hochul and the legislature to expand charter schools, not stop them.”