Letter to the Editor submitted to The Miami Herald, March 23, 2017:
I am shocked that the Herald supports education funding for one group of students, but not for all students. As a charter school parent, and school choice advocate, I believe ALL public school students should receive equitable funding and that students should not be punished financially for choosing to attend a school that is not their zoned school.
Your March 23 op-ed piece, supposedly about education, is an insult to the parents of the more than 670,000 students across the state that have exercised their right to choose a school that best fits their child’s needs. Charter schools ARE public schools. They serve, per state statute, all students – regardless of race, nationality, gender, or special needs. In fact, some of the highest performing charter schools in Miami-Dade serve families in low-income areas. To say charter schools are free to select only the cream of the crop for attendance is simply uninformed.
The current funding system exclusively benefits students attending a district-run school. Parents of charter school students also contribute to the local millage yet only district-run schools enjoy those benefits – another injustice to children that your op-ed failed to mention.
In truth, charter school students are underfunded. According to a 2012 TaxWatch Report, “The absence of equitable local funding for both operational and capital purposes creates a significant financial disadvantage for Florida charter schools. Charter schools may receive just 68 to 71 percent of what districts receive.” The Gibson Charter School in downtown Miami, a K-8 Title 1 school serving a large minority population, received an estimated $300 per student for capital outlay (2014-15). That’s an estimated 34% LESS than what students attending a district-run school down the street received. Unfortunately, the scenario at Gibson is all too common across the state.
Education funding needs to follow the child. To oppose equitable funding for all students is to support a system that believes one group of students deserves more than others.
Lynn Norman-Teck, Executive Director of the Florida Charter School Alliance and charter school parent