During his mayoral campaign in 2013, candidate Bill de Blasio said that he would charge rent to charter schools using public school space, in relation to their ability to pay.

Bear in mind that charters in New York City enroll 6% of children, while the public schools enroll about 1.1 million children.

The charter schools cried foul, and the rightwing Manhattan Institute issued a study with dire warnings about the burdens that de Blasio would inflict on the charter sector.

Bruce Baker of Rutgers University dissected those claims and found them unwarranted.

He writes:

“The report’s central conclusion that charging charter schools rent will reduce the number of high-quality schools in the city is particularly misguided and hardly supported by the crude, poorly connected and poorly documented analyses presented. As noted above, there exists no clear explanation of how deficits were calculated, including whether available assets of individual schools were considered or whether parent organizations’ ending balances or assets were considered. Clearly these are of relevance for determining the fiscal impact of paying rent.

“Second, the assertion that existing charter schools are of “quality generally above that of district public schools” (p. 4) cannot be supported by comparisons of average proficiency rates without regard for students served or existing resource advantages.

“Third, the report cherry-picks “high-performing” charters to draw broad conclusions regarding the negative impact of charging rent on the future distribution of “good schools.” Considering that the city remains responsible for approximately 1 million school children spread across approximately 1,700 schools, the assertion that charging rent to these two cherry-picked charters, or all 84 co-located charters in the author’s sample, will lead to “fewer good schools overall” (p. 4) is an enormously unwarranted stretch.

“Finally, the report fails to acknowledge that the fiscal constraints facing both the city district schools and by extension the charter schools that rely on the city budget, are in large part caused by persistent underfunding of the state school finance formula (shown in Table 4). The state continues to underfund New York City schools by $2.6 to $2.8 billion,”