With families struggling to get their kids a good education, Albany must put raising the charter-school cap on its agenda


The state legislative session is underway, and Albany lawmakers have indicated they’re putting raising the charter cap on the back burner, instead focusing on rental assistance to charter schools.

While that matter is important, New York City students are in desperate need of more charter schools now.

Punting the charter-school-cap issue is a dereliction of duty to working-class families.

As the superintendent of Icahn Charter Schools in The Bronx, I see the difference a quality education can make in the lives of our students, who are more than 90% black and brown. 

Albany’s failure to fully embrace charter schools is squandering the full potential of countless New York City students who aren’t lucky enough to win the charter-enrollment lottery.

Icahn Charter Schools’ remarkable performance is proof of the success that’s possible when innovative education models are given a chance.

Our students consistently outperform their counterparts in local district schools — schools they would be attending without Icahn’s presence in The Bronx.

New York City charter schools are producing remarkable results compared with public district schools, as The Post reports.

Icahn Charter Schools significantly outperform public district schools in The Bronx.

Icahn showed an 84% proficiency rate in English language arts, more than double that of Bronx district schools, in the 2022-23 school year.

For math proficiency, Icahn achieved an extraordinary 92% — 58 points above the Bronx district-school average.

Charters such as Icahn have become beacons of hope for families, proving that each and every child, regardless of race, socioeconomic background or language, can thrive academically.

But the charter cap is preventing us from extending these benefits to even more deserving children.

Albany imposes a statewide charter cap of 460, with only 290 charters permitted to operate in New York City.

This falls far short of meeting the demand and accommodating the city’s growing student population.

The result is students are placed on waitlists, and admissions are determined at random through lotteries.

Only the lucky ones are awarded enrollment in free, high-performing charter schools such as Icahn.

This year, we have received 3,600 applicants for 250 seats so far.

This mess boils down to a matter of choice.

Our representatives in Albany have decided to impose a low charter cap.

Despite the urgent need for more high-quality schools that provide offerings such as extended-day learning — which public district schools do not — year after year, the Legislature has refused to allow more charter schools to open.

Parents should not have to exhaust their resources, take out loans or work multiple jobs to provide their children with a quality education at private schools.

For most low-income families, charter schools provide the only feasible alternative to poorly performing public district schools.

This pains me as an educator.

It is shameful the Legislature allows so few of our children to escape languishing public district schools for the chance at a high-quality education at a charter school.

Concerned parents can raise the volume and send a clear message to lawmakers this legislative session: Stop standing in the way of parents who are desperate for schools that can offer their children a brighter future.

Lawford Cunningham is the superintendent of Icahn Charter Schools.


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