Confused About the “Funding Formula”
Rhode Island is the only state that lacks a school financing formula, so taxpayers, in essence, pay extra money to support charters.The word “charters” refers to charter schools. But you can direct money just as easily — maybe more easily — to charter schools through use a “funding formula” than you can without one. Or you could decide not to fund charters, without implementing a “funding formula”. Either way, the decision by a state to fund or not fund charter schools precedes the creation of a “funding formula”; the formula only implements a policy decision that’s already been made.
The “funding formula” itself, no matter what it’s supporters claim, is not a magical incantation that immediately solves any and all policy questions, it is just a way for the politicians to try to deflect responsibility for the decisions they make, e.g. whether to fund charters, whether to raise taxes in the suburbs to pay for schools in the cities, etc. (It might also be used to get some pols to support a program without realizing what it is that they are supporting, but that kind of thing could never happen in Rhode Island, right?)
Finally, Ms. Jordan’s use of “extra” to describe the money used for students in public charter schools requires some scrutiny. Shouldn’t all public school students be considered equally worthy of taxpayer support, no matter what kind of management structure is operating above them? Or does the state see its role in education as promoting particular forms of bureaucracy, rather than funding students?