Updated: Jul 16, 2019
The issues surrounding charter school models are making headlines as the Democratic hopefuls are taking various positions on charter schools. A quick look at a smattering of the presidential candidates indicates some shifting of positions by a few, but is it enough?
We believe that our leaders need to take a stand against ALL charter schools, nonprofit and for-profit by following the NAACP lead and call for a moratorium.
It’s reasonable to think that a parent can choose the best school for their child, but what is the cost to our community? Time and time again, the losers of this two tiered school system are the most vulnerable who depend on an equitable system that is not. It might be different if the charter schools could really be counted on to improve outcomes. But results in charters have not proven to be consistently better than neighborhood schools, and in some cases, charters have worse outcomes!
We know that charters can’t be trusted to improve outcomes for kids, but adding to the problem, charters siphon financial resources away from our local public schools, therefore weakening the entire system.
The state of Texas charter school enrollment and budget is growing every year under the legislature and TEA Commissioner. In 2008-09, the percentage of Texas students enrolled in charter schools was 2.17% with a state budget of $757,942,158.00. The estimate for this past school year (2018-19) calculates charter enrollment at 5.85% with a budget of $2,835,423,182.00. However, just last month by a vote of 8-5, the State Board of Education rejected a charter school bid planned for the Austin and Houston areas. The operator plans to reapply.
How does this growth affect us in Dallas?
In 2017 there were 34,632 students living in DISD boundaries but attending charter schools. Per pupil state funding for charter schools is substantially more than for six of the largest school districts in Texas. Here are the latest numbers according to Raise Your Hand Texas:
San Antonio $1,411
El Paso $1,619
Fort Worth $1,942
If our public tax dollars weren’t going to fund almost 35,000 students in private charter schools, with $5,724 in basic allotment plus the $1,895 noted above, that would be almost $264 million in additional funding for Dallas ISD public school students!
Charters, even non-profit ones, divert taxpayer money away from our neighborhood schools that have democratically elected boards and place it into the pockets of private operators under private boards. This process ignores one of our most basic democratic tenets: a government by the people for the people. The financial dealings of both for-profit and non-profit charter schools often are not disclosed nor available for public review. And nationally many non-profit charters are managed by for-profit CMO’s, or charter management organizations.
In conclusion, charter schools, even non-profit ones, are diverting much-needed funding away from our democratic neighborhood schools. Why are we letting this happen when charters don’t even improve outcomes?