Hochul Plan To Boost NYC Charter Schools Hits a Wall in State Senate

Hochul’s budget plan includes legislation that would potentially increase the number of charter schools in New York City.

AP/Hans Pennink, file
Governor Hochul presents her executive state budget in the Red Room at the state Capitol. AP/Hans Pennink, file

Governor Hochul’s proposal to increase the number of charter schools in New York City is being met with swift opposition from her Democratic colleagues in the state legislature.

The chairman of the senate’s committee on New York City education, John Liu, called Ms. Hochul’s plan “a nonstarter” in a statement to the Sun.

On Wednesday, Ms. Hochul announced her executive budget for the next year — which usually outlines her non-monetary policies in addition to fiscal plans. Her budget includes legislation that would potentially increase the number of charter schools in New York City, first reported by the New York Post. Charter schools are publicly funded and managed by private operators.

She proposed eliminating the regional cap on charter schools — while maintaining the state limit of 460 schools — and freeing up existing charters.

Currently, New York City has 275 charter schools. The cap technically allows for 15 more, but these 15 slots are occupied by “zombie charters,” licensed charter schools that no longer operate.

By lifting the regional cap and reissuing the “zombie” charters, Ms. Hochul could clear the path for nearly 100 new charter schools in New York City.

More than 140,000 students in the city currently attend charter schools, while 50,000 remain on waitlists for the oversubscribed programs, according to the New York City Charter School Center.

Democrats in the state senate — who are embroiled in controversy with the governor over her pick for the chief justice of the state’s highest court — have already come out swinging against Ms. Hochul’s plan.

“The naked attempt to remove the cap on charters in NYC is a nonstarter, since the cap has historically served to strike the balance between giving parents so-called ‘choice’ and the constitutional requirement to keep public schools open, and there’s no justification for upsetting that balance,” Senator Liu, who represents a large Asian-American constituency in Queens, said.

“Some measure of school choice is a good thing,” Mr. Liu said in an interview with the Sun last year, “but public education is a public good … not a free market commodity.”

At about this time last year, Ms. Hochul’s education agenda for New York City was challenged by the state legislature. In her executive budget proposal, she had included a mayoral control mandate that would have given Mayor Adams oversight of the city’s public schools.

Since Mayor Bloomberg, the legislature has delegated mayor control mandates in multiyear increments.

Legislators, however, were not happy with the inclusion of mayoral control, which ultimately did not make the budget. When a mayoral control mandate was passed at the 11th hour in June — just before the previous one was set to expire — the mayor found himself with diluted control over the school board.

A recent poll from Democrats for Education reform found 64 percent of New York City parents support raising the charter cap — something that fewer than a quarter opposed. The general population was more split on the issue, with 48 percent in support of increasing the cap and 30 percent opposed.

The New York Sun

© 2024 The New York Sun Company, LLC. All rights reserved.

Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. The material on this site is protected by copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, cached or otherwise used.

The New York Sun

Sign in or  create a free account

By continuing you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use