Charter schools continue to receive a windfall worth countless millions of dollars in free space, per pupil funding higher than in community schools, and a nearly unfettered ability to expand at the expense of existing public schools. The charter school giveaways are nothing short of a death sentence for the sustainability of New York City’s public school system.
The financial burden of providing and paying for charter school space and services for co-locations is onerous and constantly expanding, and the city is required to find the resources to pay. We need funding policies that will support the facilities and space needed for the vast majority of children, who attend public schools and are often learning in overcrowded and substandard facilities.
Charters schools receive more per pupil funding than public schools. This creates even greater inequity in our school system favoring the approximately 7.6% of NYC’s school children who currently attend charter schools. Combine that with the millions in private funding charters receive from billionaire donors who have a vested interest in privatizing our education system and the goal becomes clear: undermine and dismantle every child’s right to go to an excellent public school. Charter Schools force students to fill out an application, win a lottery, and adhere to undemocratic governance and a set of rules that leave families vulnerable to discrimination and expulsion, not to mention increased segregation in an already segregated school system. We need policies that seek to create equity and increase the integration of our school system, not deepen existing inequalities.
Requiring the city to provide charter schools with space puts the expansion of public schools in New York City at risk because it heightens the competition for already severely limited space. New York City schools have some of the highest class sizes and most overcrowding in the state. We need support to help end this crisis, not to make it worse.
The financial sustainability of our school system is at risk. As more public dollars are funneled into education corporations and charter schools, fewer public dollars are available for our public schools. At a certain point, and we have heard the “tipping point” is 10% enrollment in charter schools in NYC, we will reach a financial crisis that will make it impossible to balance the funding needs for both charters and public schools, thus allowing the kind of wholesale transfer of public schools to charter operators as we have seen in New Orleans, Philadelphia, now encroaching on Camden, and state-wide in Tennessee.
Governor Cuomo has been a staunch charter school advocate, failing to see the damage he has done to our public schools. The self-proclaimed “student lobbyist” is really only beholden to those who put profits before our children. Cuomo does not stand for our children, he stands for his own political interests fueled by charter school dollars.
Our Mayor, who ran on putting an end to the favoring of charters at the expense of our public schools and received a clear mandate to do so by the voters in our city, has been unable or unwilling to stop the giveaway of public resources into private hands.
The true student-lobbyists, parents, students, rank-and-file educators and community members, must stand together to demand full funding and support for our public schools. We must make it clear that an investment in a system that serves ALL students is vital to the health and success of our public schools.
We have learned from our experiences that support of charter co-locations and expansion in communities causes unnecessary strain on the existing schools. MORE also understands the deep systemic issues surrounding charters: the drive to privatize our public education system, the impact of charter push-out, the effect of a two-tiered system where one school is privileged over another, and the loss of unionized worker's rights. We cannot achieve the promise of public education if our schools are not fairly and fully funded.