Statement on Lifting the Charter School Cap


Statement on Lifting the Charter School Cap

February 8, 2023

In testimony today before a Joint Legislative Budget Hearing on Elementary and Secondary Education, the New York State Council of Catholic School Superintendents strongly opposed Governor Kathy Hochul’s plan to lift the charter school cap in New York City absent commensurate support for tuition-paying families in the state’s religious and independent schools.

“While the Governor portrays her proposal as a commonsense means of providing options to families, the reality is that the proposal would supplant educational options rather than supplement them,” said James D. Cultrara, executive secretary of the Council and Director for Education of the New York State Catholic Conference.

“As highlighted by a 2013 study published by Albany Law School‘s Government Law Center, for every charter school that opened in New York, a Catholic school closed. Common sense (and recent history) actually tells us that the expansion of charter schools has reduced the diverse array of schools available to families and increased the burden on taxpayers. Too many parents who work hard to keep their children in a Catholic school, suddenly find that option eliminated.”

Cultrara urged the legislature either to reject Governor Hochul’s proposal in its current form or, alternatively, to provide impact aid to affected religious and independent schools in an amount equal to the lost tuition from those families who enroll in charter schools. He pushed for the enactment of education savings accounts, direct scholarships, or education investment tax credits to help families meet the educational needs of their children wherever they attend school.

“As lawmakers in two thirds of the country have done, we urge you to empower all families, especially low-income and working-class families, to select the public, charter, or private school best suited for their children,” he said.

Cultrara also expressed dismay that Hochul proposed $250 million for high-impact tutoring to address pandemic-related learning loss for public school students, but nothing for Catholic school students beyond the existing “embarrassingly low” $922,000 for Academic Intervention Services program for nonpublic schools. Instead, he asked the legislature to allocate $32,500,000, which is proportionate to the per-pupil public school funding.”

The full testimony is available HERE.

The Catholic Conference represents the Bishops of New York State in public policy matters.