New York City’s bizarre Democratic primary for mayor left Bill de Blasio as the party’s official candidate. His hardline stance against charter schools has school operators wondering if he’s declared war on school choice.
De Blasio wants to stop charter schools from sharing locations with public schools and believes charter schools should pay rent for using city/district property. De Blasio also wants to maintain the cap limiting the number of charter schools in the city, stating, “We don’t need new charters.”
De Blasio justifies his views because he believes charter schools are better funded than traditional public schools. He bases this assumptions off a bogus report by the city’s Independent Budget Office which clearly tosses out many expenditure items associated with public education (like special education, pensions and apparently even capital expenditures) while adding or overstating additional costs to charter schools. Based on true educational expenditures, U.S. Census Bureau data shows NYC spent $23,996 per pupil in 2011 (p. 19 includes capital expenditures and debt payment). The NYC Department of Education says charter schools receive $160 to $3,100 less than traditional public schools, but even this estimate excludes billions in public school expenses found by the U.S. Census Bureau.
Charter schools already have a hard time finding suitable school locations (thanks to building code requirements for schools, which, in turn, makes finding good property prohibitively expensive in some cases). To make it even more difficult, charter schools don’t get capital funds to pay for school buildings, so rent has to come out of normal operating expenses.
There is no good reason to end location sharing with charter schools while there is a property shortage and high demand. Charging rent would be fair if de Blasio also gave charters access to capital funds, but he seems more interested in talking tough than being fair.
Grade: In Need of Improvement