- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 18, 2016

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

The D.C. parents of an estimated 39,000 children exercised their right to choose which schools their children would attend this school year, and they chose public charter schools. In fact, there is only a 9,000-student difference. Unfortunately, D.C. officials don’t fully support those parents, their kids and the schools that are trying to educate those kids.

The occupants of city hall like to talk about equity, level playing fields and fairness, but their actions speak differently.

On Tuesday, the D.C. Council passed a spending bill that short-changes facilities funding for charter schools.

“The Charter Facilities Allotment, which provides funding on a per-pupil basis to the District’s public charter schools, remains woefully inadequate after Council passage of the 2017 Budget Support Act,” Ramona Edelin, director of the DC Association of Chartered Public Schools, said Wednesday. “That DC’s Charter School Leaders are still thwarted and hamstrung by an inadequate supply of school buildings controlled by the District Government made available to them; and by financial inadequacy and/or uncertainty of their facilities funding allotment, is tantamount to punishment. Why would this Government punish those who are doing exactly what we all want our schools to do: creating learning environments where students succeed?

“Along with allies including Friends Of Choice In Urban Schools (FOCUS), Democrats for Education Reform (DFER), and Parents Amplifying Voices in Education (PAVE), the Association called for increased funding; and we continue to call for a fixed floor below which the facilities allowance would never fall, established in policy and not subject to political risk, and for an appropriate indexing mechanism that would keep pace with rising costs,” Ms. Edelin said. “We continue to strongly urge the District government to invest fairly in nearly half of the District’s public school students who attend public charter schools.”


SEE ALSO: D.C. Council moves to revise Mayor Muriel Bowser’s homeless proposal


Charter advocates aren’t seeking political rigamarole or fiscal chancery. They merely want to get their fair shake on behalf of their growing student enrollment.

They even have a few reasonable recommendations. One is to establish “the charter facilities allotment floor (below which it will not fall) at $3,250, as a matter of policy.” Another is to tie “the funding level to an index that factors in inflation and the cost of construction.”

In its determination to uproot Mayor Muriel Bowser’s plan to practically overhaul the city’s homeless plan. the council also on Tuesday agreed to raise the political stakes of the school modernization plan by moving money from one pot to another. And before lawmakers even took to the dais on Tuesday to vote, Education Committee Chairman David Grosso showed his true colors, saying “everybody gets what they deserve.”

Whoa! Really? Children don’t deserve nice, modernized facilities like their counterparts in traditional public schools?

Politicians who treat kids differently because of the schoolhouse they walk into in the morning are not being fair and unbiased.

All school children should be treated equally in school. Or is that no longer the progressive mantra?

Deborah Simmons can be reached at [email protected]


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