We asked you to participate in contacting legislators to vote AGAINST SB 188 for “equalizing” money for charters schools. Why?
There’s a difference between equal and equity. Do you want a price tag on the backs of our children? Is that ethical or truly equitable? Is it right to create an educational environment of winners and losers?
Let’s examine this equalization theory – the exact same amount of money to educate every single child. We know our children aren’t widgets and every child has different needs. Choices and options in education do serve our children with a variety of needs and the costs are different for all of them.
- Charters receive 95% of the per pupil funding with 5% held back to cover the costs of district services that have to be provided. YET, the costs of those services actually exceeds that 5% withheld, so that comes out of the overall district budget that serves all 86,000 kids.
- Charters are allowed multiple waivers that exempt them from having to provide the same services, programs, and compliance that neighborhood and option schools are required to uphold. Those waivers each can (and often do) represent a savings to the school. District run schools do not have the option to apply for individual waivers or opt out of district requirements.
- Charters are able to REQUIRE their communities to volunteer. That’s not a possibility at a neighborhood school. In particular, it’s not a possibility for serving our Title 1 schools who have families without the means to do so. When an abundance of volunteers can handle needs at a school, costs can be dramatically reduced. If neighborhood schools did this, only those in higher socio-economically advantaged neighborhoods would be adequately served.
- Charters are able to apply for many state, federal, and local grant and other funding programs that neighborhood schools do not qualify for.
- Nearly every charter has it’s own foundation set up and families are actively encouraged to donate large sums of money.
- About half of district run schools have a PTA (a few have PTOs) that does raise funds but who’s legal mission is child advocacy rather than fundraising. PTAs in areas with a higher socio-economic level raise more funds than those in Title 1 schools or those with a higher free and reduced lunch population.
- Students in special education programs (particularly those with severe and profound needs) require more services and intervention specialists. These students are primarily served in neighborhood schools or in specialized option schools like Fletcher Miller or specialized programs in neighborhood schools. These services require an additional expense.
- Students who do not speak English require additional services and this also results in an additional expense. These students are nearly all served in neighborhood, district-run schools.
- Students who are on an IEP require multiple interventions and services that incur additional expenses.
- Students who are on an ALP require additional services as mandated at the state level. These services are also an additional expense and the services available are dependent upon the school parents choose.
- Jeffco has always shared mill levy funding with charters. In fact, prior to the recalled board, $100 per charter student for the past 3 successful mill levy campaigns. That’s $300 per charter student. The remaining amount was never used as a per pupil amount at any other school, it was distributed according to the promises of the campaigns. The funds were used to keep our teacher librarians, keep our instructional coaches, retain elementary music programs, and to maintain class size (they are still large in many schools across the district.)
- When the recalled board voted to “equalize funding” – they literally redistributed several millions of dollars, broke promises to voters, and took services away from the rest of the students in the district.
There is a limited budget to work with in funding our schools. Overall, the budget covers special education (shared with charters), instructional support (shared with charters), general administration (shared with charters). When we take away from one group of students to give to another, that’s not a positive move. A $9 million change to the budget is not something that should ever be taken so lightly without exploring the impacts to every child, school, program, and service across the entire county. Nor should the legislature make such a drastic change that would impact students across the entire state, while they are unaware of the impacts it would cause.
Here are some real examples of the lives of real Jeffco kids with names and locations changed for privacy:
Adorable 5th grader Amy attends a Charter School. Amy’s mom volunteers full-time at the school and doesn’t work outside the home. Amy’s parents both have college degrees and they live in a $400,000 home. After school, Amy goes to private violin lessons, dance classes, and has a math tutor. On the weekends, her family goes camping, visits museums, plays with friends, and every summer they take a family vacation.
Sweet 5th grader Sue attends her neighborhood school in West Woods, her mom and dad both work outside the home and both have college degrees. The family lives in a $600,000 home in West Woods. Sue has an ALP and receives special services through the gifted program. Sue’s parents both are PTA members and make it to events as they are able. Sue has a younger sibling and a nanny who picks them up from school and takes them to soccer practice, science classes, and to the Apex to get out their energy. Sue’s family goes skiing on the weekends in winter and attends the summer camps of her choosing.
Darling Angelina is a 5th grader at Molholm, her neighborhood school. Angelina doesn’t yet speak English fluently but she’s learning with the help of her ELL teachers and other staff at her school with the dual language program. Angelina’s parents both work and are not able to attend many school events but sometimes her older cousins take her. Angelina’s family doesn’t have the money for her or her siblings to participate in extracurricular activities and Molholm doesn’t have a PTA. Her parents work on the weekends as well but they do make sure that she does her homework though both of them will tell you that they aren’t able to offer much support. Angelina’s family doesn’t own a home, they are renting an apartment and may be moving soon because the rent went up.
Amazing Adam is a 5th grader at Van Arsdale Elementary. Adam has epilepsy and requires several special accommodations to meet his educational needs at school. Adam is in his regular classroom the majority of the day but receives special instruction from the special education teacher, social worker and speech therapist. Adam has an IEP (Individualized Education Plan.) Adam has a full-time aide who assists him in school all day long. Adam’s mom stays home with his younger siblings and his dad works full-time. His mom makes it to every event she can attend and participates in his IEP meetings. Adam doesn’t get a chance to do a lot of extracurricular activities because it’s hard to find places that can make meaningful accommodations outside of schools but his mom is an amazing advocate for him. Adam and his family live in a $300,000 home.
Which child is the most expensive to educate?
These are real stories. There are 5th graders across the district and the state who fit a portion of each story. Not one is the same. They’re all wonderful kids. They’re all wonderful families. Do they all deserve a great education? Yes! Is the cost to provide that education the same for each child? No!
Charter schools are NOT bad. They also don’t serve the needs of ALL children. The original philosophy of the 1993 Charter Schools Act was that these schools would be smaller environments to experiment with educational programs and develop innovative ways to educate at risk students. That focus has shifted a bit as very few at risk students are actually served by charter schools.
We have lots of options in Jeffco. Neighborhood schools, option schools, special programs, and charter schools. Parents deserve the right to choose what they think is best for their own children but none of us has the right to take funding away from a needier child and in the name of “equal.”
There is equal and there is equity. They are different. Some of us happen to be able to give our children resources that others cannot. Some of us have children who are not as expensive to support, that’s not true for every child.
We need to stop pitting kids against kids. THAT is what “equalization” does. The real problem is state funding in general.
Email and/or call your legislators and tell them to stop this! Vote no on SB 187 and 188, because ALL Colorado kids deserve the best. Anything else is unethical.
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