Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Letter to WSJ re big errors in David Osborne's pro-charter op ed

credit: @CoopMike48
Update #2 (11/22/2019):  After a protracted debate on Twitter, David Osborne has modified his claim that NY "cushions the blow" for districts experiencing charter expansion, writing: "In Massachusetts, New York (outside New York City) and Illinois, the state cushions any revenue loss."  At the end of the article there is also this retraction:

New York state cushions the revenue loss when students transfer to charter schools only for school districts outside New York City. An earlier version misstated this. 

Yet even in the original version, he had added, "By law, Massachusetts districts should be reimbursed 100% of the state money for the student for a year, then 25% for the next five years—though the state has only met about 60% of that funding since 2015."

So it is clear that this cushion pertains neither to NYC, which has the largest share by far of charters in the state; nor to MA, where this promised reimbursement has not ever been fully funded.  We have yet to hear if  the claim is true for IL.  

See also links to analyses below from CA, PA, and NC, which show that the fiscal impact of charter growth affects public schools nationwide. Moreover, Osborne still hasn't corrected his claim in the oped that public schools can "lease" empty buildings to charters - while as my blog post points out, NYC is obligated to provide space for all new and expanding charters either for free in public school buildings, or help pay for their rent in private space, which last year cost the district about $100 million.

Update (11/21/19): For more on the significant negative impact of charter school growth on public school budgets via "stranded costs", see economist Gordon Lafer’s report  focused on CA, or this Research for Action analysis of  Pennsylvania, or Helen Ladd's study of the evidence from North Carolina

From: Leonie Haimson
Sent: Wednesday, November 20, 2019 10:52 AM
Subject: Fact check on David Osborne op-ed in WSJ

To the editor:
There are at least two major errors in David Osborne’s WSJ oped, entitled “The Big Lie about Charter Schools,”  dated November 19.
First he writes, In Massachusetts, New York and Illinois, the state cushions any revenue lossfrom the growth in charter enrollment.
Nothing of this kind happens in New York, and the NYC Department of Education is paying more than $2.1 billion annually directly out of its budget to charter schools with no reimbursement.
He also adds: Once their schools are down to 75% capacity or below, they can lease the extra space to charter or private schools.” 
In NYC, the Department of Education is forced to give charter schools space in public school buildings for free or help pay for their private space, which is costing the city more than $100 million per year.  This is fully documented in our recent report, "Spending by NYC on Charter School Facilities: Diverted Resources, Inequities and Anomalies” and posted here:


Leonie Haimson
Executive Director
Class Size Matters

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