ICYMI: Fox & Hounds: "California Cheats Charter School Students of Funding Again"

Monday, September 21, 2020

By Lance Izumi (Senior Director, Center for Education at the Pacific Research Institute)
September 17, 2020

The 2020-21 state budget signed back in June by Governor Newsom glaringly failed to fund growing regular public schools and public charter schools.  A purported “fix” to this problem, pushed by the governor and Democrat legislators, turns out to be just more Sacramento smoke and mirrors…

SB 820, on first glance, appears to fund increased numbers of students at growing schools.  The state will fund higher enrollment based on either the projected number of students in schools’ own 2020-21 budgets or on their enrollment figures as of October 1st.  However, the bill then stipulates that funding will be based on whichever figure is lower.

To understand this dishonest sleight of hand, think about a charter school that projects 400 new students in its 2020-21 budget.  However, on October 1st, the school actually has 500 new students.  According to SB 820, the state will not pay for the added 100 students as of October 1st because the projected number of students in the school’s budget was the lower amount vis-a-vis the actual number of students that eventually enrolled…

In addition to using a financial sleight of hand to continue to defund children at growing schools, lawmakers explicitly defunded new students at online charter schools, which serve their students through distance-learning tools.  According to the bill, such schools will get no new state dollars for increased enrollment…

The bottom line is, as Senator Mike Morrell (R-Rancho Cucamonga) – who waged an unsuccessful fight in the Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Committee to fund non-classroom-based charter schools – said, “The money should follow students regardless of where they go to school.”

“Every student deserves a chance to succeed,” said Morrell, and “California should not be penalizing families for opting to enroll their children in academic settings that best meet their needs, especially during this time.”

Morrell is absolutely right.  The fact that California refuses to do so demonstrates that education special interests, like the teacher unions that oppose charter schools, continue to call the shots in the State Capitol, to the detriment of the state’s children.

Click here to read the full column in Fox & Hounds.

BACKGROUND:

Republicans worked throughout the recent legislative session and during its final weeks in August to secure equal education funding for all public schools, including non-classroom-based charter schools. Read more here.