Society and Culture, Education

Should charter schools have free rent? Not according to Bill de Blasio. But why?

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Democratic mayoral nominee Bill de Blasio vows that, if elected, he will stop offering the majority of NYC’s charter schools free rent. He argues, “There are charters that are much, much better endowed in terms of resources than the public sector ever hoped to be. It is insult to injury to give them free rent.” Mayor Bloomberg’s focus on charter schools, in de Blasio’s opinion, has been to the detriment of traditional public schools, using up valuable resources that could be utilized for classes and after-school programs.

Let’s make something clear: Charter schools are public schools. Both charter schools and traditional public schools receive public funding and serve all students, but charter schools are privately managed. For this they should be punished, effectively, by having to pay rent?

Quick facts:

  • 62% of charter schools co-located in 2012-13, according to Building Inequality. Co-location is when multiple schools share an otherwise under-utilized building (see more here). A majority of City district schools co-locate.
  • New York City Independent Budget Office released a study in 2010 that found that general education spending at traditional public schools was $16,678 per student.  For “charter schools located in public school buildings, public support…totaled $16,373.” IBO estimated the savings for the co-located charter schools was $2,712 per student.
  • Charter students in NYC gain, on average, one month of learning in reading and five months in math per year of schooling than their traditional public school counterparts (see above chart which graphs the difference between the students at charter schools in comparison to traditional public ones).

While some charter schools may be well endowed, there are many others that are frequently unable to provide very good facilities for their students on their own. This report’s findings on charter schools in private space reveal such situations as this: “One charter school spent years without a cafeteria… at another, crowded conditions led to classes in hallways and behind curtains.” Those schools sure sound flush with cash.

As far as Mr. de Blasio’s resource complaint goes, charter schools cost the public less than traditional public schools and produce significantly better results. Oh, by the way, traditional public schools don’t pay for their space.

2 thoughts on “Should charter schools have free rent? Not according to Bill de Blasio. But why?

  1. The problem with the Charter schools is the same lame sound bite beliefs of those who hate the public schools.

    they just “believe” that non-public schools “have” to be better but the truth is a little tougher:

    “But the myth just exploded. The narrative is a hoax. The Common Core tests that were supposed to destroy public education devastated the charter sector. Stephanie Simon of was first to notice that some celebrated charters like KIPP and Democracy Prep did worse than the public schools.

    Now Gary Rubinstein examined performance for all charters in New York City and determined that the sector as a whole did worse than public schools on the Common Core tests.

    In fact, the score collapse of the charter sector dwarfed that of the public sector. Gary writes:

    “The most stunning example is the famed Harlem Village Academy which had 100% passing in 2012, but only 21% passing in 2013 for a 79% drop (you can see that sad dot all the way at the right of the scatter plot). Democracy Prep Harlem Charter, run and staffed by many TFAers, dropped 84% in 2012 to 13% in 2013. KIPP Amp dropped from 79% in 2012 to just 9% in 2013. The Equity Project (TEP) which pays $125,000 for the best teachers had finally gotten some test scores they can brag about with 76% in 2012, but that has now sunk to just 20% in 2013. The Bronx Charter School Of Excellence, which recently received money from a $4.5 million grant to help public schools emulate what they do, dropped from 96% in 2012 to 33% in 2013. So these are the schools that are the red ‘outliers’ hovering near the bottom right of the scatter plot. In general, the average charter school went down by 51 percentage points compared to 34 percentage points for the average public school. The most plausible explanation for charters dropping so much more than public schools is that their test prep methods were not sufficient for the more difficult tests. In other words “you’re busted.”

    ” New York fails Common Core tests – Stephanie Simon – POLITICO ……/…‎
    Aug 7, 2013 – The political fight over the Common Core academic standards rolling … Yet charters, which are publicly funded but privately managed, fared particularly poorly on the new tests. … Results were mixed at some of New York City’s most highly touted charter schools, often …. Vouchers don’t do much for students.”

    so now – guess what? The pro-charter school folks are attacking the common core!

    it’s like we’re becoming a nation of armchair “believers” of myths…

  2. How convenient for you to link to an IBO report that supports your case, but was subsequently rejected by the IBO when they adjusted their calculations:

    “…we now estimate that average public funding for traditional public schools was $15,672 per pupil that year. IBO’s estimates of public support for charter schools housed in public school buildings and charter schools in private space for 2008–2009 were unchanged at $16,373 and $13,661 per pupil, respectively.”

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