April 22, 2013

Charter school students deserve to have their schools treated fairly

By Jonathan Wood Attorney

An editorial in Saturday’s Washington Post demonstrates that the denial of charter school equity is a nationwide problem.  The article reports that, on average, charter schools receive $13,000 less per pupil than their system run competitors.  For example, in D.C., where charter schools are legally entitled to be treated on an equal footing with system schools, the school system has consistently violated this command.

A study last year by Mary Levy, a longtime analyst of public education in the District, found that charters were underfunded by about $1,500 to $2,500 per student in operating funds and $3,000 per student in facilities funds. Most unfair has been the District’s reluctance, if not refusal, to make shuttered schools available to charters; the difficulty KIPP DC is experiencing in finding new facilities to accommodate its top-performing high school is evidence of the District’s indifference.

As reported last week, the California Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case challenging the L.A. Unified School District’s failure to comply with Prop. 39‘s requirement that it provide “reasonably equivalent” facilities to charter schools.  PLF filed a brief in support of the charter schools, asking the Court to hear the case.  Charter schools must be treated on an equal footing with their competitor system schools if they are to provide maximum educational benefits and meaningful choice for parents.

But, it appears that the benefits of charter schools have outpaced this effort by system schools to underfund them.  As the editorial explains:

Even with less money, charters have outperformed the public school system: Their students score higher on standardized tests and graduate at greater rates. More than 40 percent of public school students attend charters and thousands are on waiting lists. It’s time the District give them their financial due.

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