More than 50,000 students are on wait lists for the city's 183 charter schools, and 30,000 more seats will be needed within four years. Yet despite charter schools' popularity and purpose—to provide more education choices—they foster a fair amount of animosity. Critics question their effectiveness and complain of diversion of taxpayers' money. Most visible among them is mayoral front-runner Bill de Blasio.
Remarkably, he wants charter schools that share facilities with city-run schools to pay rent if they can afford it. "It is [adding] insult to injury to give them free rent," he said in June.
But what is the insult? Where is the injury?
Charter schools are public schools, financed with tax dollars. The annual per-pupil reimbursement in charters is $13,527, or about 80% of what traditional public schools receive. Charters do not get additional money for facilities, and rely on prudent management and fundraising, as do district schools.