This week is National Charter Schools Week. This year marks the 30th anniversary of the first charter school law, which changed the future of public education and student success. For my family, having a charter school option available for our youngest daughter is a life changer. She currently attends a charter in Fort Worth. But it is unfortunate that after 30 years, public charter schools are not treated fairly.
In recent years, supporting charter schools has become political; the focus has been taken away from what students need. Instead of looking at the data of student outcomes, learning from charter schools who are outperforming district schools, and working to bring equity to our education system, charter opponents focus on dividing us by turning this into a partisan issue. Charter opponents do not understand the struggle that many families, like mine, have been through. For me, having the choice to send my youngest daughter to a high-quality public charter school is a matter of urgency. The education system failed me when charter schools were not even in existence. And the education system failed my two oldest children before I knew about charter schools. The education system is not fit for all students; our families need options and resources in our own communities. Why would someone try to keep me from having a choice? Our children do not have time to continue waiting for the system to improve. We have already been waiting for over 30 years!
One of the biggest issues with charters is funding. Why not advocate together so that we can increase per-pupil funding for all students in all public schools? In Texas, charter opponents say that charter schools receive more state funding than school districts. Texas school districts receive funding from both state and local property taxes. However, public charter schools receive NO local funds from property taxes. This means that my own property taxes do not fund my daughter’s school.
So when charter opponents say that charters receive more funding from the state than school districts, technically the answer is yes. But the reality is that public charter schools receive less money per student than district schools. When you total the amount that ISDs (school districts) receive from both state and local funding, the total is higher than the amount that charters receive from the state. For example, in 2018-2019, district schools received from state and local funding a total of $11,397 per ISD student. Meanwhile, charter schools received $10,721 per student. This means that public charter schools received almost $700 less per student than ISD’s. How is this equitable funding for all public schools? Charter schools ARE public schools, and should be treated as such!
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