Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Three reasons why "equal funding" on a per student basis would favor DC charter schools over DC Public Schools

The Washington Post editorializes in favor of the DC Charter Schools campaign for "equal funding" ("D.C. charters deserve the same funding as traditional public schoolsD.C. charter schools sue city, alleging unequal funding").

1.  Special education.  Using average data on the "equality of per student funding" between charter schools and traditional schools is misleading, because the reported figures are averages.

The reality is that roughly one-third of the funding for traditional urban school districts is spent on special education, and special education students tend to comprise about one-sixth of the student body.

Charter schools do not have the same levels of special education enrollment.

2.  Student funding is set on enrollment data from the fall term.  Students frequently leave charter schools after this point for placements in traditional public schools, but the funding doesn't follow the student, it is retained by the charter school.  There is limited reciprocal movement of students from the DCPS system to charter schools to counter the financial disparities.

3.  Because charter schools are newer, the average legacy cost per staff member for health care, pensions, and other personnel related costs are significantly lower than for the traditional public schools.  These costs should be "backed out" of numbers used to calculate costs.

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At 3:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

this entire edifice of charter schools here in DC was put into place during an atmosphere of decline and dysfunction- and was a way of dealing with a demographic that was inclined towards extreme disarray . Now that this city is changing- and this quite rapidly- one wonders how the justification for continuing this setup can hold on. I see affluent and younger parents already becoming involved in their public schools and pushing for improvements. Public schools operate more efficiently if the priorities of the schools are not feeding the children but educating them. When this happens public schools work better. They cannot really work w/o parental involvement and books at home or encouragement. When the parents are illiterate or borderline functionally illeterate- this makes public schooling a real ordeal and a more private deal seems to work better since the parents are not capable of pitching in at all- damnit we're talking about ghetto here !!!Kids having kids !!!

At 4:44 PM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

I had an interesting conversation with my neighbor a couple months ago. She has taught for 25+ years at one of the city's most successful elementary schools.

She said in the beginning of her career, you had parents volunteer because the wife usually didn't work, and they gave money.

Then wives started working, but families still gave money.

She said now, parents don't volunteer and feel that giving money is unnecessary, that the school system should pay for whatever they want.

2. but yes, generally you're right. Coordinated systems work fine when the majority of your students come from middle and high income families.

When you deal with even a majority of students from poor families, it's much different.

Many conversations with teachers dealing with such situations include complaints about the difficulty of classroom management, because it only takes a couple kids unwilling to behave to completely mess up the class.

At 3:02 PM, Anonymous Martin Rayala said...

I worked in the public school system for over 30 years and am now starting a charter school. There are four major factors in providing quality education - (1) great teachers, (2) comprehensive curriculum, (3) top-notch school leadership, and (4) financial resources.
(1) In traditional public schools it is often not possible to hire teachers who fit the school - decisions of teacher placement are too often made outside the building level and based on factors other than quality of teaching.
(2) Curriculum in public schools is too often narrowly focused on English Language Arts and math with a testing system that reflects that narrow bias. Efforts to be innovative with curriculum at the building level are discouraged.
(3) School leadership is often seen as arbitrarily interchangeable. Schools seem to think you can just move school administrators around and their leadership styles and interests will work in any school.
(4) Some seem to argue that charter schools have some sort of financial advantage over public schools. There is a misperception being spread that charter schools receive money for students they aren't teaching. If that is the case in your state, it is probably also true that some public schools receive money for students they don't teach for the same reason. Charter schools are financially disadvantaged. They have to find and pay for their own buildings and have to pay for advertising and recruiting efforts. They typically pay teachers less than public schools because they have less tax-payer money with which to work.
With all of that, why are charter schools such a threat. With less money to offer teachers, less to spend per pupil, having to find their own buildings, and having to advertise to find students, why do students still enroll, parents elect to send their students, and teachers still apply for jobs there? Those are the types of questions we really should address?


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