David Dunn of the Texas Charter Schools Association writes another op-ed about funding for charter school facilities.
The Texas Charter Schools Association has looked at the needs of public school students whose parents have chosen the option of public charter schools for them, and we know that these Houston students deserve the same consideration as students in HISD. With at least 56,000 students on waiting lists to attend charter schools in Texas, and perhaps as many as a third of those waiting-list students in Houston, this is not a trivial matter. In a state that values local control in school matters, charter school parents and taxpayers have none when it comes to funding for their public charter schools. The Legislature could act to correct this funding inequity, but they haven’t in the past. Charter schools have been part of the public education landscape in Texas for more than 16 years, and it is long past time for the Texas Legislature to address this issue.
So now that HISD trustees have put this proposal for capital improvement bonds before the voters, we ask Houstonians to take a moment and remember the public school students who do not have this option. Houston ISD has funding opportunities for their students that Houston public charter schools do not. This goes to show again the violation of the Constitution for public charter school students because they have the right to the same funding and facilities as other students in Houston, but not the means.
Dunn wrote essentially the same op-ed two years ago. He has the HISD bond referendum as a framing device this time around, and of course now there is the latest school finance lawsuit, to which the TCSA is a party. It’s not clear to me that the charters have the same constitutional rights as the public schools, but it is a good question. I do agree that the Lege should address this in some fashion, but I believe they ought to come up with a funding source rather than tapping the Permanent School Fund. Of course, if the Lege were good at coming up with appropriate funding sources we wouldn’t have a whole host of other problems, so perhaps the courts are the charters’ best hope. We’ll see about that.