The goal of any school system should be to deliver students high-quality education, in a safe environment, at the lowest possible cost to taxpayers. Charter schools in New York City and across America have proven they can meet — even exceed — these goals, despite a host of challenges other public schools don’t have to face. It’s time elected officials stopped trying to block this crucial option. Charter-School success should continue.
Charter schools, public institutions with the freedom to operate independently of the district system, have famously done more with less, generally receiving a fraction of per-pupil funding compared with their district counterparts. Often, they must also go through rigorous approval processes, find buildings to host their schools and — most important — compete with district schools to attract and retain students.
In major cities, charter schools receive nearly $8,000 less than district schools on average — a 33% funding gap. In New York, public schools pocket roughly $32,000 per pupil, far more than the $17,000 charters get. Yet in the Big Apple, almost 50,000 children sit on waitlists for charter schools because political leaders lack the will to lift the cap and allow true competition in education.
Instead, teachers unions and other hostile gatekeepers have been allowed to flex their muscles and box out competition by pressuring lawmakers and authorizers to oppose the growth of non-district school options and fighting to maintain a cap on the total number of charter schools allowed in New York City.
It’s disappointing, but not surprising, that the education establishment wants to block competition instead of improving in response. Despite many obstacles, charter schools deliver for families and taxpayers by being creative and innovative in their approach to education.