Charter advocates press Florida congressional delegation on equal funding

charter schools
A House budget currently cuts $40 million from the Charter Schools Program.

Charter school advocates are calling on members of the Florida congressional delegation to fund all public schools fully. That includes the many charter schools subsidized through school districts but independently managed.

Patricia Levesque, executive director of the Foundation for Florida’s Future, said charter schools must receive financial equity.

“Today, a broad coalition of organizations and schools sent a letter to Florida’s Congressional delegation, urging they treat all public school students equally by restoring the education funding cut in the Charter School Program fund and eliminating language that could especially harm public school students with special needs and low-income students who attend charter schools,” Levesque said.

The pandemic makes it all the more important all schools receive federal funding, the letter argues.

“For the past 18 months, students across the country have had their learning disrupted, impacting every student differently, which is why Congress should not pass a budget that risks further disrupting learning by removing basic funding for public school students,” the letter reads.

“The current House Appropriations budget for the fiscal year 2022 cuts education funding to more than 3.3 million students across the country who choose a public charter school to fulfill their learning needs. More than 300,000 of those students, nearly 10%, attend charter schools in Florida. Each of those students is no less important than any other student.”

Notably, the letter praised the American Rescue Plan for providing $125 billion in funding for school districts, helping all institutions.

But the budget already approved by the House Appropriations Committee “moves the country backward” by cutting $40 million from the federal Charter Schools Program.

“This agenda-driven budget prioritizes politics over people and systems over students,” the letter states. “We urge our members of Congress to reject this language, restore the federal funding to the Charter School Program fund, and treat all public school students equally.”

Several state lawmakers signed the letter, including Sens. Aaron Bean, Manny Diaz, Ray Rodrigues and Reps. Alex Andrade, Wyman Duggan, Michael Grant, Chip LaMarca, Stan McLain, Paul Renner, Jason Shoaf and Kaylee Tuck. All are Republicans.

Several charter school organizations, companies and individual institutions signed on, including the Florida Charter School Alliance, Charter Schools USA, Pinecrest Academy, Naples Classical Academy and Pepin Academies. So did several business groups, including the Florida Chamber of Commerce and Florida Council of 100.

“Every student is deserving of an education that enables them to succeed, and that is why we believe the language in this House Appropriations approved budget bill is particularly harmful — by defunding charter schools, it hurts all children,” the letter closes. “We urge you to reject legislation that cuts and restricts funding to the public charter sector and disrupts the education of charter students nationwide.”

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected].


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