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While public schools unite communities, corporate charter schools divide them

By Kara Smith



he proposal in this year’s executive budget to increase the number of corporate charter schools in New York will undermine public schools and undo the historic investment that’s been made in Foundation Aid.

The charter school industry can put financial burdens on traditional school districts, diverting millions in Foundation Aid funding to unaccountable charters.

Let’s keep public schools as the center of our communities.

Corporate charter schools strip funding from public schools

  • In 21 of New York’s most charter-saturated districts, 61 percent of Foundation Aid increases over the last five years went to charters.
  • These districts could have invested $2 billion in student supports. Instead, they were mandated to pay $1.23 billion to corporate charters.
  • The executive budget proposal clears the way for up to 106 new charters. Public schools could lose millions more in funding.
Diagram showing the differences between how charter schools and public schools function

The charter school industry doesn’t play by the same rules — they cherry-pick students

  • Corporate charters underserve students with disabilities and English language learners.
  • Corporate charters are exempt from public transparency and accountability requirements. Unlike public schools, charter schools are NOT locally controlled.
  • While locally elected school boards govern public schools, communities have NO say in how corporate charters operate. For example, before purchasing a new school bus, local districts must hold a taxpayer vote. But there’s no taxpayer approval requirement for opening a new charter school — even if it drives up local property taxes.

Corporate charter schools are motivated by profits, not community

  • Corporate charters are flush with cash and hoarding taxpayer dollars. During the last year on record (2021), corporate charters held approximately $961 million in cash and $1.45 billion in unrestricted net assets. By contrast, public schools are only permitted to carry 4 percent in their reserve fund balance.
  • Some charter school executives earn nearly $1 million annually.

For more information and stories about the detrimental effects of charter schools, visit FutureForwardNY.org/charters.

“Public schools are part of our communities. They are transparent and locally controlled. But school boards have no say in whether a charter school is established in the school district … local school boards should have final approval over a charter school’s application.”

— Andy Pallotta, NYSUT president

“[For now-shuttered zombie charters] $153 million was diverted from [public] schools due to facilities charges. When you think about bringing back [zombie schools] … you see an exorbitant price tag.”

— Karen Alford, vice president for elementary schools, United Federation of Teachers

Voters broadly say no to new charters

In a recent poll, Hart Research Associates found that New York voters don’t want more charters. Voters say:

  • Expanding charter schools is not a priority.
  • Elected officials should strengthen public schools.
  • Funding shouldn’t be shifted away from public schools.

For poll results, visit nysut.cc/charterpoll.