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?
- 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.