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Home » Chalk Talk – New York Charter School Fight Takes to Broadway

March, 2007

West Side Story, the classic Broadway love story, is making a comeback. But this time it’s an allusion to charter schools’ mighty struggle to continue growing as a viable school choice option in New York State despite the constant opposition of the teachers unions and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. In this rendition, Silver plays Officer Krupke, and instead of gangs, he’s fighting kids who are stuck in communities that are plagued with bad traditional public schools. All they want is the choices and chances that other kids have. Krupke (played by Silver) cares more about the adults than the kids in the community. Even though the New York Governor wants to lift the cap on charter schools, Silver wants to limit choices, reduce funds and put unions in control.

The kids rarely have a voice. But based on what we hear parents and students saying, we’ve taken liberties to produce our own version of West Side Story (special thanks to CER’s resident lyricist!), and offer this rendition of the classic, “Gee, Officer Krupke.” We welcome creative young people to produce and post a version for all to enjoy.

A West Side Charter Story

(with apologies to Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim)

Dear Mr. Assembly Speaker
Why don’t you understand?
It’s just that your behavior
Has gotten out of hand
The mothers all are angry
The fathers all are mad
The poor children, are really, really sad.

Assemblyperson Silver, we are very upset
Why don’t we get the same love the U-F-T gets?
We may not be Randi
But we still have a voice
And we’ve all been praying for another choice.

For a choice!

Give us choice, give us choice
Lots of charter school choice
We’ve been praying for our parents’ choice

Dear Mr. Sheldon Silver
My parents are so gruff
With all your strange behavior
They’ve really had enough
They only want what you have
But you paint charters bad
Oh, if only, options could be had.

Mr. Sheldon Silver, you really aren’t fair
You need to take Ms. Randi out from your inner ear.
Her thoughts about charters really ought to be curbed.
Where we live the people are disturbed.

We’re disturbed!

We’re disturbed, we’re disturbed,
We’re the most disturbed
The schools, they are really just absurd.

Gee ‘Semblyman Silver,
You really are not right
You seem to only want to give the unions the might
The parents are struggling
The kids are distraught
Meanwhile you are acting like you’re bought

You’ve been bought
You’ve been bought
Like old pols, you’ve been bought
And, now, the kids they are distraught

They’re distraught!

My school ain’t really cutting it
It’s all there is for me.
If only there were more charters
With that I would agree
The same old stuff won’t do, it’s just more of a mess
Enrolling at a charter, would ensure my success!

Mr. Assembly Speaker, please don’t tell us no
All we want are schools where wisdom can grow.
Leave politics all out of this and please no more tricks
Your anti-charter actions are making us sick!

We are sick, we are sick
We are sick, sick, sick,
We are sick, of your anti-charter schtick!

Want to help pass on this West Side Charter Story? Tell a friend.