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D.C. Charter Schools Take Bold Stand Against Inequity

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Leaders Take Necessary Action To Ensure Charter Law Is Followed

CER Press Release
Washington, D.C.
July 30, 2014

In federal court Wednesday, charter school leaders in the District of Columbia took action by filing a lawsuit against the persistent underfunding of charter schools that for too long has plagued the D.C. public school system. The lawsuit does not seek financial damages, but rather a legal declaration that moving forward, all public school students will be funded at equitable levels.

“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,” said Kara Kerwin, president of The Center for Education Reform. “D.C. charter leaders are boldly refusing to tolerate this grave injustice to these public school students who deserve the same funding levels as their traditional school peers.”

The lawsuit alleges that each year the D.C. government shortchanges charter schools by $1,600-$2,600 in per-pupil funding on average, accumulating to an outrageous $770 million since FY 2008. This is in direct contradiction of the equitable funding requirements established in the 1995 D.C. School Reform Act.

Overall, D.C. charter students posted 58.6 percent proficiency in math and 53 percent in reading, approximately 6 and 4 percentage points above state averages, respectively. The outperformance of charter students on statewide assessments is part of an upward trend in achievement growth.

“This lawsuit will potentially lay the permanent groundwork for future generations of District charter students attending what have become proven bastions of opportunity in what once was a stagnant system,” said Kerwin. “No longer will fundamental inequity and policy ignorance stand in the way of improved student outcomes.”