Eric Cantor and Bill de Blasio exchange fire over school choice

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, left, warned that Republicans may hold Congressional hearings into the education policies of Democrat Bill de Blasio’s administration in New York City. (Susan Walsh/AP; Stan Honda/AFP/Getty Images)

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor took aim at New York City’s new mayor on Wednesday for his cooler stance toward public charter schools and warned that Republicans may hold Congressional hearings into the education policies of Democrat Bill de Blasio’s administration.

At a speech Wednesday at the Brookings Institution, Cantor (R-Va.) said that New York made great progress in offering choice to students under former mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, who grew the number of public charter schools from 7 to 123 in 12 years and allowed charter schools to co-locate in underused city schools.

De Blasio, who campaigned on the idea of improving all schools, wants to halt  the co-location of charters. He said he might also charge rent  from charters that receive significant funds from foundations and private interests.

Such a move, Cantor warned, "could devastate the growth of education opportunity in such a competitive real estate market like New York City. “Just think of how many families will have their choices taken away if Mayor De Blasio pursues these policies.”

He added: “Our committees in the House will remain vigilant in their efforts to ensure that no one, no one from the government, stands in the schoolhouse door between any child and a good education.”

After learning about Cantor’s remarks, the new mayor returned fire.

“The Republican agenda in Washington doesn’t even scratch the surface of the inequities facing more than a million children in our public schools,” de Blasio said in an e-mailed statement. “It’s a dangerous philosophy that turns its back on public education — and it has failed many times before. What public school parents want — and I know because I’m one of them — are real investments that lift up all our kids. That will take big, bold, progressive ideas. And that’s exactly what the people of New York City just voted for.”

Read more on Cantor's Brookings speech here.

Lyndsey Layton has been covering national education since 2011, writing about everything from parent trigger laws to poverty’s impact on education to the shifting politics of school reform.
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