New York City Mayor Opposes Charter School Growth

February 24, 2014

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio wants to curb charter school growth, says The Economist.

  • Support for charters is strong, with 70 percent of Americans favoring them, according to a poll from PDK and Gallup last year.
  • But only 5 percent of the nation's children are actually in charters, largely due to teachers' union opposition (as charter schools are not unionized).
  • Enrollment in charters has grown by 80 percent over the last five years.
  • A full 79 percent of New Orleans children are enrolled in charter schools, 51 percent in Detroit and 43 percent in Washington, D.C.

New York City had been enrolling some of the largest numbers of charter students, but its newly elected mayor, Bill de Blasio, is not a fan. De Blasio's schools chancellor announced a plan at the end of January to move $210 million in charter school funds to pay for pre-kindergarten teaching and declared that all charter school expansion plans are going to be reviewed.

The mayor also intends to charge charter schools rent for the use of public school spaces.

  • Charters do not receive state funding for facility costs, and New York City rent is incredibly expensive. As a result, Mayor Bloomberg had allowed charters to use underutilized public school space (such as gyms, libraries and cafeterias) for free.
  • 115 of New York City's 183 charters share space in this fashion, and they would suffer if they are suddenly charged rent. Those 68 charters that do not share space pay an average $515,137 for facility space annually.
  • The Manhattan Institute estimates that 71 percent of charters would fall into deficit if they are charged rent for these spaces.

As an example of who would be affected by this rule, Bronx 2 -- a charter school that serves mainly black and Latino children -- shares space with PS 55, a district public school.

  • Ninety-seven percent of Bronx 2 students passed their state mathematics exam and 77 percent of students passed English, making the school number three in the entire state.
  • At PS 55, on the other hand, only 3 percent of students passed English and only 14 percent passed math.

These policies are not expected to be popular, as charter schools in New York City routinely outperform district schools and most residents want more charters, not less. That demand is evidenced by the fact that New York has 50,000 children currently on charter school waiting lists.

Source: "Killing the Golden Goose," The Economist, February 15, 2014.

 

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