While most New Yorkers oppose charter schools, Gov. Kathy Hochul wants to better fund them.
According to the 2024 New York State Executive Budget, Hochul wants to remove the regional cap on the number of charter schools in the state. But, a poll from New York State United Teachers and United Federation of Teachers finds this isn’t what New Yorkers want.
Seventy-nine percent of those surveyed oppose plans to increase the number of charter schools in the state. Along with 81% of those surveyed, UFT President Michael Mulgrew said he feels strengthening public schools needs to be a priority for elected officials.
“We cannot believe we’re here, having these conversations again,” said Mulgrew, “when it is clear that parents and the community really do not want an expansion of charters at this point in time because they understand that the resources are being drained from the public schools.”
Seventy-nine to 20% of those surveyed would rather see better public schools than an increase in choices of charter schools. When asked what their top priorities are for education, 94% of people want expanded literacy programs for struggling students.
But, only 7% of people said expanding charter schools was one of their top priorities. Currently, 182,000 students attend more than 340 charter schools across the state.
One thing the poll identifies is that numerous elements of how charter schools operate are unpalatable to New Yorkers. Specifically, 81% are against charter schools discriminating against students with disabilities.
But, previous studies including one from the National Council on Disability find this isn’t happening as often as it did. NYSUT President Andy Pallotta said he feels charter schools create division in education.
“Eliminating the cap would result in a major transfer of resources from public schools, and for the last year we’ve been talking about how public schools unite us,” said Pallotta. “And they do. We also know, sadly, that if public schools unite us, what the charters have been doing is divide us.”
He said he hopes public schools can use their own funding to support extensive growth in numerous programs.
According to the budget, New York State public schools will be getting around $24 billion from Foundation Aid to support district operational and instruction costs.
Edwin is a reporter and producer in North Tonawanda, New York. He’s previously reported for the Niagara Gazette and the Ithaca Times. Edwin got an early start in radio interning for WBFO-88.7FM, NPR’s Buffalo affiliate. In 2018, he graduated from SUNY Buffalo State College with a B.A. in Journalism, and in 2022, graduated from Syracuse University with an M.S. in Communications.