In advance of the release of its 2012 Model Public Charter School Law rankings, NAPCS will chronicle some of the most critical—and contentious—aspects of the model law that played out in the past state legislative cycle. This guest blog by Eileen Sigmund, President and CEO of the Arizona Charter Schools Association, examines issues with funding equity (Model Law Component 18).
Are some students worth less or worthless? When it comes to Arizona's antiquated school funding system, students are treated differently. Charter students are funded, on average, $1,500 less per student than their district peers.
These funding disparities are unjust, and an Arizona lawsuit seeks a basic American principle: that all children in public schools receive an equally good education, backed by similar, adequate resources. A recent ruling by the Maricopa County Superior Court in the lawsuit Craven et al. v. State of Arizona et al. confirmed that Arizona's public charter school students are Arizona public school students entitled to the Arizona Constitution's educational privileges just like the state's public district school students.
This ruling came after the State and others argued that public district school students and public charter school students are not members of a similarly situated group of citizens. The State has maintained that Arizona's pubic charter school students occupy an inferior, secondary supplemental level in Arizona's public school hierarchy. The recent ruling rejects that argument.
In light of the ruling, the remainder of this litigation will focus on the determination of whether Arizona's K-12 student finance scheme is constitutional. To be upheld, the system must be rational, reasonable and not arbitrary, discriminatory or capricious. Trial is set for Fall 2012.
We cannot treat some students as if they are worth less than others. For more information, visit www.studentequitynow.org.