PCPCS Response: Badams Reacts to Fair Funding Lawsuit
September 16, 2016
It is interesting to note some inconsistencies in the positions advocated by Representative Bizzarro and Senator Wiley in your September 13 report “Badams Reacts to Fair Funding Lawsuit”. The legislators identify the growth and funding of charter schools as fundamental causes for the financial struggles of the Erie School District when, in fact, the growth of charters is a symptom of much more fundamental problems in the District which parents clearly see but administrators often choose to ignore.
Parents do not want to leave district schools for charters, but they feel that they must for the safety and future of their children. According to October 1, 2015 data from the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 2,129 students in Erie City, or 15.59% of the student population, have chosen charter schools. The District could close every charter school currently serving those children by doing two things – listen to the parents who have left and change to address their concerns. So long as the District is either unwilling or unable to listen and change, then it is unconscionable for either the District or the legislators to stand in the way of parents finding a better educational opportunity for their children.
Interestingly, the application of the Basic Education funding formula, which Superintendent Badams advocated against, was passed by a vote of 188-3 in the House and 49-1 in the Senate and with support of the Pennsylvania School Boards Association (PSBA) and both Erie legislators. Also, legislation to create a funding commission, similar to the one which created the Basic Education funding formula, to investigate the real cost of charter education was not supported by either legislator or PSBA.
The debate between districts and charters has gone on far too long and has forced too many taxpayer dollars to lawyers, bankers, and lobbyists rather than educating children. Until adults stop defending their own special interests, whether they be districts or charters, and work together to truly put all children at the apex of their priorities, the children and taxpayers will continue to suffer.
Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools