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Blake Neff

DC Charter Schools Sue City Over Funding Gap

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Posted by Blake Neff on Monday, August 4th, 2014, 4:00 PM PERMALINK


A battle between charter schools and the nation’s capital continues to escalate.

Dozens of Washington, D.C. charter schools are launching a lawsuit against the District and Mayor Vincent Gray, claiming they have been systematically shortchanged in funding by a hostile city administration.

The D.C. Association of Chartered Public Schools claims that the city has underfunded charter schools by more than $2,000 per student, per year compared to the D.C. Public Schools (DCPS). The total shortfall since fiscal year 2008, they claim, is over $770 million. The gap, the association says, is a violation of a Congressional command that charter schools receive the same amount of funding as ordinary public schools. It also materially disadvantages the charters, they claim, making them struggle to pay competitive teacher salaries.

The plaintiffs support their claims of a disparity with a study commissioned by D.C.’s own government. The study, released last January, found that public schools benefit from an indirect subsidy through millions of dollars in in-kind support offered by other branches of the D.C. government. For example, the city’s Department of General Services provided far more free facilities maintenance to regular public schools than it did to charters.

“These funding disparities are contrary to D.C. law,” the report concluded.

Other sources of unfairness proliferate, the lawsuit says. Charter schools have their per-pupil funds calculated exclusively on the basis of confirmed enrollments, while DCPS is allowed to rely on estimates of how many students will be enrolled in the coming school year. With DCPS seeing steadily declining enrollment, these estimates are often inflated, the charter advocates claim.

In the past, the city has defended some of these sources of the funding disparity by arguing that DCPS is hamstrung by the need to hire union labor and by the requirement that schools be able to enroll new students throughout the year, of any background. Charter schools do not have such limitations. The plaintiffs argue, however, that such arguments are irrelevant when contrasted with a clear Congressional mandate that charters and public schools be funded identically.

D.C.’s charter school program is one of the nation’s most ambitious, with its approximately 37,000 participating students comprising over 40 percent of all publicly-funded schoolchildren in the city.

The Center for Education Reform (CER), a pro-charter school group, said the lawsuit was an unfortunate necessity brought about by the city government’s failure to close a very obvious gap.

“Across the nation, charter schools continuously get cheated out of resources, even in places like the District of Columbia where charter schools currently serve as an educational lifeline for 44 percent of the public school population,” CER president Kara Kerwin said in a statement sent to The Daily Caller News Foundation.

The lawsuit is the latest clash in a bitter history that dates back to 1996, when Congress amended the D.C. School Reform Act to establish a public charter school system in the District. Charter schools’ better test scores and higher graduation rates have led to a sharp decline in the number of students enrolling with DCPS, while charters have struggled to meet rising demand. DCPM has been compelled to close schools, and has fought to prevent the transfer of the closed school buildings to charter schools. Another source of friction has been with the Washington Teachers’ Union, which has long sought to undermine charter schools’ exemption from collective bargaining laws.

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Report Details Growing Middle Class College Squeeze

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Posted by Blake Neff on Monday, August 4th, 2014, 3:41 PM PERMALINK


Americans still think college is a worthwhile investment, but they are getting more creative in their efforts to pay for it, a new report from Sallie Mae indicates.

That means paying for a greater share of college costs out of pocket, and trying to take out fewer loans.

In a reversal of trends stretching back several years, in 2014 42 percent of college costs were covered by out-of-pocket spending by either students or their parents, an increase from 38 percent in 2013 and the highest amount seen since 2010. Loans, meanwhile, covered 22 percent of the typical college students’ costs, down from 27 percent last year.

The poll shows a continuing squeeze for the middle class when it comes to college education, however. Those with middling incomes were the only group that paid over 25 percent of college costs through loans, while high-income families could rely more on out-of-pocket spending and low-income families attracted more scholarships and grants.

To save money, new students are increasingly exploiting alternatives to the standard college experience. More students than ever, for instance, are starting their college years at less expensive two-year schools rather than four-year ones. 34 percent of new students in the 2013-14 school year started at public two-year colleges (with a handful attending private two-years as well), up from 23 percent in 2010. Four-year schools, meanwhile, dropped from 73 to 63 percent of students.

Other frugal behaviors are on the rise as well. Compared to last year, students said they were more likely to take on extra roommates, accelerate their studies, or choose a school closer to home in order to cut down on expenses.

Despite costs that continue to rise faster than inflation, almost everybody continues to view college as a sound investment. Only 31 percent of surveyed individuals said they considered forgoing college due to its cost, while over 90 percent saw a degree as an investment in their future and over 85 percent said a degree was needed for the job they desired. 80 percent said it was better to borrow money than not attend college, and nearly 60 percent said it was worthwhile to attend college for the intellectual and social experience regardless of its effect on their future earnings.

The survey was conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs, which interviewed about 1600 parents and students to assemble its data set.

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Rednecksrule

I am sure that illegal immigrant friendly Grover Norquist supports state tuition rates for illegals. This guy loves him some illegal immigrants... That means that the state taxpayers subsidize illegals. Grover is all for you, not his beloved corporations who pay this sleaze bag millions in lobbying fees, to pay taxes to support million of new entitlement users.


Wisconsin Supreme Court Upholds Collective Bargaining Law

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Posted by Blake Neff on Friday, August 1st, 2014, 2:16 PM PERMALINK


Wisconsin’s ambitious collective bargaining law, which sparked a bitter recall campaign against Republican Gov. Scott Walker, was upheld in its entirety on Thursday by the state’s supreme court.

Act 10, passed in 2011, sharply limits the power of certain public employees in the state to engage in collective bargaining with the state government. The law also requires public unions to recertify every year, makes the payment of union dues voluntary, and increases the required contribution by public employees to their pension and health insurance plans.

In a 5-2 decision, the court ruled that Wisconsin public employees ”have no constitutional right to negotiate with their municipal employer on the lone issue of base wages, let alone on any other subject.” The court also ruled that the law did not constitute an illegal restriction on the free speech rights of public employees. The ruling was a reversal of a lower court decision that had found major components of the law to be unconstitutional. It also marks the end of the road for legal challenges to the law, which has also been upheld twice in federal court.

In a statement, Walker called the ruling a victory for Wisconsin’s taxpayers, who he said had saved over $3 billion under the law.

Madison’s teachers union, which brought the suit, released its own lengthy statement calling the decision “morally bankrupt” and blaming the outcome on a “coalition of the Koch brothers, Karl Rove, and the Wisconsin Club for Growth.” The group’s executive director, John Matthews, said that many members of the court should have recused themselves from the case due to the financial support they had received from business groups while running for a seat on the court.

“How those justices could not have seen that their participation in this case was unethical boggles my mind,” said Matthews.

Act 10 has sharply divided Wisconsin politics in the three years since it was first proposed. During the debate over its passage, thousands of protesters, including teachers skipping work, amassed in the state capitol, while Democratic legislators fled Madison in an effort to prevent a quorum needed to pass legislation.

After the law was successfully passed, a recall effort began against Gov. Walker as well as several Republican legislators. While Democrats eventually succeeded in retaking the state Senate after unseating several Republicans, Walker himself survived, and Republicans retook the Senate following the 2012 general election.

Thursday’s decision, along with another ruling by the supreme court upholding a state voter ID law, could bolster Walker’s effort to win reelection and a third endorsement from Badger State voters.

 

Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.

 

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