Today the editors of the Washington Post write in strong support of the lawsuit filed last week against the city in which charters charge that the traditional schools are receiving illegal supplemental funding outside of the Uniform Per Student Funding Formula. The additional dollars provide DCPS with approximately $100 million per year that the alternative schools do not receive. The editors recognize that it is complicated to compare the two systems because of the difference in the way they operate and then conclude:
"But rather than penalizing a sector that has done more with less, officials should be devising ways to make charters whole without hurting students in traditional schools."
There is another interesting point made in the editorial. The editors conjecture that the legal action might have been prevented if the city had been more cooperative in turning shuttered DCPS facilities over to charters. When FOCUS first brought up the possibility of the suit over public funding I asked whether the movement should be instead addressing the millions of dollars in capital expenditures the traditional schools receive for building renovation to which charters do not have access. The answer was that it was preferable to address the UPSFF since this revenue issue is codified into law.
A victory in court would be groundbreaking in that it would bring equity and fairness to schools that for the last 20 years has been pleading for both. I imagine that step two in this cause would be to tackle the problem of charters obtaining adequate classroom space. The city could do much to preempt this unpleasant battle by going ahead and turning over the current 23 vacant DCPS buildings that are now just sitting gathering dust.