December 11, 1999
Letters to the Editor
1150 15th Street NW
Washington, DC 20071
Your editorial about public school funding ("No Way to Treat Public Schools," December 11, 1999) creates the false impression that DCPS's financial difficulties are attributable to the need to fund the District's public charter schools. In fact, just like DCPS, the public charter schools still do not know how much money they will be receiving this year and are being threatened with serious underfunding. For many of the public charter schools, some of which have as few as 75 students, this is a disaster in the making.
The pain being suffered by Mrs. Ackerman and the leaders of the public charter schools has been caused by the District's failure to send to Congress last spring a budget bill that fully funded all public school students DCPS and charter. Early in the budget process the DC Public Charter School Coalition provided the Mayor and the Council with school-by-school estimates showing that approximately 3,500 additional students would be attending the public charter schools this year, for a total of 7,000. In spite of this, the District budgeted only enough money to fund a total of 3,800 students approximately $30,000,000 less than what everyone involved knew would be required when September rolled around.
In an era of budget surpluses and tax cuts, there is no reason why the District of Columbia cannot fully fund all of its public school students, as the law requires. Both DCPS and the public charter schools serve the same District of Columbia public school children, and should not be forced to compete for the funding they need to do their jobs well.
Robert I. Cane
Friends of Choice in Urban Schools