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De Blasio: First Do No Harm

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Doctors take the Hippocratic Oath with the promise "first, do no harm." This same philosophy should be applied when dealing with our nation's underperforming school system. When looking to improve our education system, political leaders should always follow the axiom, "first, do no harm." Unfortunately, the actions by Mayor Bill de Blasio do just the opposite.

This week, in New York, thousands of parents and students marched to save their schools and fight for the right of every child to receive a quality education. The march was in response to the mayor's newly announced charter school co-location policy, which is a direct attack on educational options in New York. With this new policy, Mayor de Blasio is primarily targeting one of the highest performing schools in the entire state. Success Academy Charter Schools' students are in the top one percent of all New York schools in proficiency in math. They are in the top seven percent in proficiency in English. And every single student passed the 2013 state-administered science exam. But these students' mayor is telling four of the Success Academy public charter schools that he would be closing their doors -- leaving more than 700 children without a school to attend next year. These children will be forced to attend their assigned public school, which in many cases is underperforming or failing entirely.

Why are these schools being closed? Especially schools that we know work for kids? Politics. Personal politics. During the campaign, candidate de Blasio has made it clear that he doesn't seem to like Eva Moskowitz, the founder of Harlem Success. And one can expect personal vitriolic rhetoric in highly charged political campaigns.

But today, de Blasio is the mayor of New York. He has a fiduciary responsibility to his city's citizens, especially its children, to refrain from the personal and govern dispassionately and fairly. He now runs a city in which the dropout rate among African-American boys alone is over 60 percent. Knowing that, he wants to close a school where the graduation rate, academic proficiency rate and (pun intended) success rate of the African-American students is among the best in the nation?

The New York mayor's announced position on charter schools tragically illustrates how personal politics personally hurts our kids. His allegiance to this brand of governing does more than offend the Hippocratic Oath. It sets the tone for more personally driven policies that will continue to hurt our kids for years to come.

At the rally, Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) fully supported charter schools and said he is open to legislation to defend against de Blasio's attack on an educational option that has helped so many children. Gov. Cuomo should be lauded for his leadership, and his commitment to successful schools demonstrates common sense is not a partisan issue. Nor should that commitment be driven by petty, personal politics, which certainly does not put kids first: except in doing them harm.