Thursday, February 27, 2003

breaking charter legislation news

The Indianapolis Star reports that Limit on charter school funds OK'd

Rep. Greg Porter, D-Indianapolis, chairman of the House Education Committee, converted House Bill 1322 into a charter school funding quick-fix.

His proposal, passed 8-6, would give charter schools no more than $6 million in each of the next two years. The vote was along party lines, with Democrats supporting the measure.

With 1,350 students in the state's 11 charter schools, the cap would give these schools about $4,400 per child. At a traditional school, the average spending per student is $8,100, the state Department of Education says. Three more charters opening this fall will have to share that.

"We would all have to close," said Kevin Teasley, who runs the 21st Century Charter School in Indianapolis' Union Station.

This is ridiculous. Why are charter schools having their funding limited? Presumably to try to fix the current traditional public school funding crisis. The problem is that in many cases, this bill would only cripple the charter schools, not help the traditional schools. Just because Signature School would receive less funding doesn't necessarily mean that students would stop attending Signature--and even if they did, many would attend a private school in the area instead of the public high schools.

Porter claims that this bill "is not an indictment against charter schools. We have a fiscal crisis." That's ridiculous. Yes, there is a financial crisis. But charter schools did not cause it and are only a minimal contributer, if at all. The fact is charter schools need MORE money than the traditional public schools do for the short run. Start-up costs range in the millions and unlike well-established high schools, public schools have no previous years' surpluses to draw upon. To give charter schools significantly less money is a poorly planned quick-fix for the public schools' funding.

Yes, I know this bill is ridiculous. A march on Indianapolis may be organized soon. I'll post details as I found them out.


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