Gov. Kathy Hochul’s plan to allow about 100 more charter schools to eventually open in the city should be a no-brainer, for all the reasons The Post has laid out in our “Free the Charters” series this last week:
In all too many neighborhoods, especially lower-income minority ones, the only good public-school option is a charter. But many ’hoods still lack that option, because state law prevents new charters from opening by “capping” the number in the city.
When it comes to teaching their students, public charter schools overall do a far better job than the regular public system. In 2018-19 (the last pre-COVID school year), 62% of charter students citywide scored proficient on statewide math tests, vs. 45% at Department of Education schools. In reading, the gap was smaller but still substantial, 57% vs. 47%.
And that’s despite the fact that charters enroll few kids from higher-income families, and far fewer white children, who are usually more “privileged.”
Charters mainly enroll children from black and Hispanic lower-income families, though that could change as efforts (in the name of “equity”) to lower standards in the regular system drive ever-more white and Asian-American parents to seek alternatives.
If the cap continues to deny them that possibility, they may well leave the public schools (and even the city) entirely: DOE enrollment is already falling drastically, with no end in sight.
When it comes to special-needs students and English Language Learners, charters do an exceptional job of addressing learning disabilities and actually teaching English, so that these kids are far more likely to be genuinely “mainstreamed” than if they’re condemned to the regular public schools.
“I have to say, I really feel that [first] charter school saved my life and my daughter’s life,” says Marcia Ward-Mitchell, whose daughter Kimana, who has autism and ADHD, is now 14 and thriving at her third city charter school.
Sure would be nice to have such schools in all five boroughs — but the state’s current “charter cap” for the city prevents it.
On top of everything else, charters are also safer than DOE schools, because they have the freedom to put kids in time out, suspend them, separate them — that is, to ensure that one misbehaving student doesn’t bring down a whole class, and so reduce misbehavior because kids learn actions have consequences.
Charters excel despite getting less than half the per-pupil funding. All by itself, that disproves the lie that they “steal resources” from DOE schools.
Hochul’s plan simply does two things: 1) Permits about a dozen charter allowances “used up” by schools that closed to be re-used by new ones. 2) Removes the NYC-only cap on total charters allowed so that the 100 or so still available in the rest of the state can be issued in the five boroughs.
Of course, after two decades when the Empire State’s “experiment” with allowing charters has proved a huge success, any policy reason for capping them at all vanished long ago.