Time to end the public education funding gap

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When Connecticut finally passed a budget late last month, after the longest impasse in our state’s history, many people were relieved. To be sure, we need a budget to keep our government and economy up and running. But the new budget does little to give our state’s families the quality education and school choices they deserve.

In communities across Connecticut, public charter school are doing a great job, and yet we continue to under-fund their students and compromise their success.  The recent decision by Achievement First to consolidate their two, high-performing Hartford middle schools into one really brings this home – fewer students in my community will now have access to a great education.

Connecticut funds public charter schools and other public schools differently, leaving charters with $4,000 less per child. This is a longstanding problem, and it will only get worse now that the most recent budget has passed. The state finally passed a needs-based formula to fund traditional district schools, but it left out public charter schools, which overwhelmingly serve high-need communities.

This growing funding gap means that our state’s public charters can’t accept all of the students who apply for seats. It also forces charters to cut programs and personnel, chipping away at their ability to provide families with school choice options that are often higher quality than their zoned district schools.

There is absolutely no reason that this should be the status quo. Public charter school students are just as worthy of the state’s investment as their district school peers, and should receive the same amount of funding. What’s more, a quick look at last year’s student achievement results from public charter schools in Bridgeport, Hartford and New Haven shows just how invaluable these institutions are to the neighborhoods they serve.

State Rep. Brandon McGee, Jr., a Democrat, is the Connecticut House of Representatives Assistant Majority Leader and represents Windsor and Hartford.

What do you think?

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