Among the many educational reforms that New York mayor Michael Bloomberg adopted or expanded, charter schools—public schools that enjoy autonomy from many district restrictions, such as the salary schedule for teachers and the length of the school day—are perhaps the biggest success story. There were 14 charter schools in the city when Bloomberg took office. Today, 159 of them educate more than 48,000 students.
Though charters operate in each of the five boroughs, they’re most heavily concentrated in areas with underperforming traditional public schools, such as Harlem and the South Bronx. Despite their rapid growth, the demand for charter school seats continues to exceed the supply. According to the New York City Charter School Center, nearly 53,000 students are currently on waiting lists.