After Signing de Blasio’s Letter, Viverito Distances Herself

Bill de Blasio organized a number of elected officials to support reforming charter schools in New York State. In doing so, he got 25 lawmakers to sign a letter in support of it. When he released the letter publicly, he went a step further, adding to it his own statement about a slightly more controversial reform: raising the cap on the charter schools allowed to open[clarified]. Lifting the cap wasn’t among the reforms stated in the letter.

Now, one of the elected officials who signed on to the letter is putting some distance between herself and de Blasio.

“I would not have signed on to the letter if it called for lifting the cap on charter schools,” City Councilwoman Melissa Mak-Viverito told me in a brief telephone interview this morning. She said one of her staffers alerted her to de Blasio’s statements about lifting the cap, and criticism that the councilwoman was getting for supporting it.

“But the letter was about reform, not about lifting the cap,” Viverito told me.

Yesterday on her blog, Viverito wrote:

“I just learned that, upon release, this letter was accompanied by a statement from Public Advocate de Blasio in support of raising the cap on charter schools in our State. It is important to note that the letter itself does not call for the charter school cap to be lifted, and at the time I signed on to this letter, I was not aware that it would be attached to the Public Advocate’s statement.

“I would like to clarify at this time that until real reforms to our charter schools are implemented, such as those outlined in the letter, I will not support any actions taken to raise the charter school cap.”‘

In presenting both issues to the media, de Blasio said:

“I strongly support raising the cap on charter schools and giving New York State the best possible opportunity to compete for much needed federal education funding.  I have submitted the following letter to Governor Paterson and the State Legislature asking them to adopt new measures that build upon the successes in our charter school system by increasing efficiency, transparency, and accessibility.”

UPDATE: A spokesman for de Blaiso sends this statement: “As indicated by the headline, the statement speaks to Bill’s position on this issue and no one else’s.”