by Brenée Goforth
Communications Associate, John Locke Foundation
Carolina Journal’s Lindsay Marchello reports on the recent discussion of charter schools around the Leandro court case debate. Marchello explains:
The Leandro case began in 1994, when five rural school districts sued the state, arguing they couldn’t raise enough tax revenue locally to provide an education for their students on par with the schools in wealthier districts. A few years later, the state Supreme Court held that every North Carolina child has a right to “a sound, basic education” under the state constitution. In 2004, the court ruled the state failed to live up to the previous ruling.
Since then, lawmakers and education stakeholders have disagreed about how to comply with the Leandro mandate, which says every classroom must be staffed with a competent, well-trained teacher, and every school must be staffed with a competent, well-trained principal. Leandro requires the state to identify resources needed to ensure all children — including at-risk students — have an equal opportunity to a sound, basic education.
Since then, the governor has created a task force to find ways for North Carolina to comply with this mandate. One of the commission’s recent recommendations included provisions for charter schools. Marchello writes:
The governor’s commission calls for the state to modify funding for charter schools. Instead of charter schools getting the same amount of money per student traditional public schools receive, money for new charter schools and enrollment increases could come from a direct state appropriation.
…The commission recommends changing funding for new charter schools and enrollment increases.
Public charter schools are funded by per-pupil spending. In other words, when a child moves from a district school into a charter school, the money from the education fund that is allocated for that child follows him/her to the charter school. Marchello quotes Rhonda Dillingham, executive director of the N.C. Association for Public Charter Schools, as saying:
“Charter schools are part of the public school system, and if parents make the choice to enroll their children in a public charter school, then it only makes sense that the funding should follow the child,” Dillingham said. “Our state’s charter school students deserve the same funding as their district counterparts.”