Governor Kathy Hochul wants to create 85 new charter schools in New York and lift the cap in New York City on the number of those institutions.
The move is one that has caused controversy and opposition from leaders in public education, as well as education unions.
The proposal took center stage during Wednesday’s legislative budget hearing on education spending, which is a significant part of the governor’s $227 billion budget.
State Education Department Commissioner, Betty Rosa, testified to lawmakers that the department was not consulted about the decision and encouraged lawmakers to ask Hochul’s office about the logic behind the proposal. The governor’s office responded by saying that Hochul believes every student deserves quality education and that New York City residents deserve the same access to educational options as the rest of the state.
Representatives from the United Federation of Teachers, New York State United Teachers, Council of School Supervisors and Administrators, and the School Administrators Association of New York State criticized the charter school proposal during the hearing, which sparked a debate about the effectiveness of charter schools and the law that created the statewide cap of 460 charter schools across New York.
Rosa pointed out that while some charter schools are run well, most lack financial transparency and fail to provide adequate services to students with learning disabilities or special needs. The proposal has also angered members of organizations that represent religious and independent schools, who argue that the increased aid for charter schools and not other non-public schools is unfair.
Education leaders from across the state praised Hochul’s commitment to increase school funding by $3 billion, or 10%, and fully fund foundation aid, but argued that the formula needs to be updated. New York schools are also struggling with a shortage of teachers and staff, which is exacerbated by poor salaries, benefits, and support. Panelists also emphasized the need for more funding for school guidance counselors, social workers, and other mental health resources to better assist students who display inappropriate behavior in
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