Brisport Supports Moratorium on Charters as Schools Ready to Reopen


Jabari Brisport, the Democratic Party nominee for State Senate District 25 covering Fort Greene, Boerum Hill, Red Hook, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Sunset Park, Gowanus, and Park Slope, said this week that he supports a moratorium on public charter schools so money can be spent on funding the regular public education system.

Brisport’s comments came as COVID-19 rates have steadily dropped to below one percent and schools are set to reopen via blended or remote learning on September 10. It also comes as there are growing concerns from both parents and faculty to not reopen schools, or at least modify plans to guarantee student’s safety amid warnings of a $2.3 billion budget cut and 9,000 resulting teacher layoffs from Chancellor Richard Carranza, reported Chalkbeat recently.  

Jabari Brisport

Brisport, a public school teacher and United Federation of Teachers (UFT) union member, has said that charter schools are less accountable because they are privately managed and therefore take away from a transparent school system.

“We should really empower our public schools and make sure they’re fully funded. Gaps happen when some schools get resources and others don’t. It’s the jobs of politicians to make sure we have equity in education,” said Brisport.  

Brisport emphasized that both teachers and parents want safe, quality, and fully funded schools, with smaller class sizes and more services for students. He said the state has “long failed in its promise to fully fund schools” when asked about the possible cuts to schools.

“The looming education cuts are the result of Governor Cuomo‘s refusal to raise revenue by taxing the wealthiest New Yorkers. We cannot continue to prioritize the comfort of the richest New Yorkers over the basic educational needs of our students.  We need safe facilities, smaller class sizes, more counselors and social workers, and just working conditions for all public educators. All of this requires fully funding every public school,” said Brisport.

Brisport’s thoughts on charter schools come as thousands of parents in Brisport’s district – particularly Black parents – have enrolled their children in charter schools as regular public schools in low-income neighborhoods have continually been low-performing in giving students a basic education.

Charter schools operate independently of the Department of Education (DOE), and if “they do not meet their goals, can be closed.” 

However, polls indicate in Central Brooklyn, Harlem and the South Bronx, charter schools outperform traditional district schools in both math and English language arts (ELA). 

Because of the COVID-19 crisis necessitating radical innovation within the education system, and quite frankly a funding safety net, charter schools are touted as the better option for parents and kids this year, said AmNY.

Executive Director for the Coalition of Community Charter Schools Michael Catlyn, who lives in Bed-Stuy, said while he does lean more towards supporting charter schools, he more accurately believes in what he considers to be “parent choice” when it comes to his community.

“Being a father of four that went to a gifted and talented Montessori private school, it’s the best fit for your child. That’s why I think parents should be allowed not false options but authentic education opportunities in education, for whichever one they choose,” said Catlyn. 

Barbara Martinez, the Chief Media Officer for Uncommon Charter Schools, said they are planning to open remote only on August 31 and then go into a hybrid model on October 5, which will be subject to change depending on the status of the coronavirus. 

Uncommon Schools is opting to follow CDC guidelines and consult directly with medical and public health experts while also incorporating all state and local guidelines, said their website. Each student will be granted their own Chromebook to work with this fall.

Uncommon has several highly successful schools in Central Brooklyn including an Uncommon High School on Pacific Street on the Crown Heights/Bedford-Stuyvesant border. The charter school system also spearheads training days with regular public school teachers and educators to review best education practices.