Statement 1.19




Albany, NY — Hundreds of parents from New York City public charter schools will travel to Albany on Wednesday for “Education Equality Day.” They will call on legislators to fix a growing gap in school funding that shortchanges public charter school students and threatens the future of their schools. Parents will hold meetings with their elected leaders to explain the growing need to reach funding parity for the nearly 100,000 students in New York City charter schools, and the event will feature exhibitions and performances highlighting their exceptional quality and depth of parent demand. Assembly Members Robert Rodriguez, Mark Gjonaj, Luis Sepúlveda, and many others will address the crowd of families in the Well of the Capitol Building.

Since 2010, the funding formula providing to public charter schools has been frozen, allowing the per-pupil funding that flows to students in district schools to outpace that of charter schools by more than six times. This year, Governor Cuomo took a critical step forward by proposing an “unfreeze” in the charter funding formula. Now, the State Legislature has an urgent opportunity to equalize funding for public charter school students.

Full Analysis, “Fund Our Kids Equally,” below and attached:

NYC DOE School Spending per Student
NYC Public Charter Funding per Student

Increase in spending




Hundreds of parents and students from New York City charter schools
Assemblymember Robert Rodriguez
Assemblymember Mark Gjonaj
Assemblymember Luis R. Sepúlveda
Additional members to follow


Education Equality Day


11:30 AM
Wednesday, January 20, 2016


Well of the State Capitol Building
Albany, NY


Since the creation of charters the lack of equal funding has plagued parents who desperately want to choose their child’s school. Unfortunately in 2010, this lack of parity for district public schools and public charter schools worsened. Last week, Governor Cuomo took an important step forward by proposing unfreezing the state’s funding formula for New York City charter schools, and in so doing, his administration endorsed the most viable solution for ending education inequality in the state: public charter schools and parent choice.

Public charter schools are a proven solution to ending separate and unequal schooling. Serving some of New York City’s highest-need families, charter schools have become the alternative to a separate and unequal school system that robs children of opportunity. Black and Hispanic students in New York City’s charter schools performed nearly twice as well in math and nearly 50% better in English Language Arts than their peers in traditional district schools.

Yet despite these amazing results, NYC’s public charter school students have often been shortchanged when it comes to funding, and are in serious need of relief.

When New York’s legislature passed the charter school law in 1998, it included a formula pegging public charter school funding to district school spending to ensure that charter schools would not be discriminated against when district school funding increased. In 2010, however, that formula was “frozen,” and it remains so to this day. As a result, public charter school funding has been lagging dramatically, particularly in New York City.

As the chart shows, Mayor de Blasio has significantly increased NYC district school spending while charter school funding has stagnated. Although the state legislature has added a few hundred dollars per student to public charter school funding in recent years, those increases have fallen far short of district school increases.

As an example, over the past five years, funding for New York City’ district school students grew by $2,113 per student. But public charter school funding increased just $350 in the same time period, and even that slight boost is due only to temporary supplemental funding, set to expire after 2016-17. That increase in spending for New York City’s district school students was six times as much as the increase in funding for public charter school students.

NYC DOE School Spending per Student
NYC Public Charter Funding per Student

Increase in spending



Moreover, since they were created in 1998, New York public charter schools have received less per pupil funding than district schools. While the Independent Budget Office has argued this disparity is relatively small, that math is based in a problematic calculation of “supplemental public support” — the benefit of using space in co-located DOE buildings — at about $4,000 per pupil in, the value of both the space and the associated services. This estimate includes expenses such as transportation, food service, textbooks, which not all charter school students use. Additionally, it fails to recognize that public charter schools also do not get funding for renovations or the costs related to opening a new school.

Without equitable funding, public charter schools:

  • Won’t be able to offer the robust and varied curriculum so essential for preparing scholars for college.
  • Won’t be able to provide competitive compensation or high-quality professional development to teachers and staff, potentially losing valuable talent.
  • Will be forced to reduce expenses, which would impact staffing, salaries, programming, field trips, chess tournaments, robotics, music, art — many of the special programs that families love about charter schools.
  • Will be limited in their ability to serve more students from waiting lists. In New York City, more than 43,000 families are on waiting lists, desperate for the opportunity to exercise choice.
  • Public charter school students, families, and teachers deserve better. And so do their friends and neighbors stuck on waiting lists, or in failing schools.

It’s long past time for New York to fund all students equally — so that every child can get the education they deserve.

It’s time for funding parity for public charter schools.

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