Gov. Hochul’s full budget proposal on Feb. 1 hit all the right notes on school funding but was completely off key on charter schools.
Hochul proposes to significantly increase the number of charter schools in New York City. Her plan may sound innocuous: Eliminate the regional cap on the number of charters that can be issued in New York City and issue new charters to replace the so-called “zombie” charters held by now-closed schools.
But if her proposal becomes part of the final state budget, it could lead to as many as 106 new charter schools opening in New York City. Under each charter, chains like Eva Moskowitz’s Success Academy network open elementary, middle and high schools in separate locations, so the total increase could, in fact, be more than 300 new charter schools — which would more than double the number the city has now.
As it is, charters enjoy a sweetheart deal courtesy of Hochul’s predecessor under which, no matter how big their endowments, they are entitled to either free space in city buildings where public school students are crowded by their presence or get their rent in leased buildings paid by the city.
Charter schools should not be allowed to expand as long as they refuse to serve our most vulnerable children, force out students who don’t fit their mold and rebuff independent audits of their spending.
Queens Sen. John Liu, who chairs the Senate’s NYC Education Committee, quickly declared Hochul’s proposal “a nonstarter.” A majority of his colleagues in the state Legislature should join him to block this ill-conceived plan.