Donna Felix is one of the few lucky parents whose children were chosen by lottery to attend Explore Charter School in Brooklyn, New York. Thousands of other parents were not so lucky, their kids consigned to attend failing public schools because charter schools are overbooked and private schools are too expensive.
Charter schools have made leaps and gains in New York in the past decade and a half, mushrooming from one school in 1999 to 183 today. Many of them greatly outperform their traditional district-school peers. But New York’s new mayor, Bill de Blasio, threatens this success:
In New York, there are over 70,000 students in charter schools, and over 60 percent of the city’s 183 charter schools are co-located — meaning that they occupy underused or unused space in traditional district schools on a rent-free basis. While co-location has caused some tension between students of the different schools occupying the same space, the policy allows charter schools to survive despite New York’s expensive real-estate market.
Though the specifics of de Blasio’s education policy remain murky, he is considering both putting a moratorium on co-location and charging rent for charter schools that are already co-located. De Blasio has assured people that he wants to charge rent only to those schools that can afford it, but some worry that the mayor’s definition of “afford” may be different from the schools’. Others worry that his call to “focus” on traditional public schools will leave charter schools in the lurch.
Read more in my piece on the homepage.