Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Charters and Chump Change

The House Finance Committee today heard testimony on legislation to appropriate $1,000,000 towards charter schools. I am a co-sponsor of the measure.

For reasons I have never quite fathomed, the NH political establishment has never quite figured out the whole idea of public charter schools. Too many Democrats base their opinion on questionable data provided by the NEA, while too many Republicans are simply resistant to innovation and change of any sort. Combine paleoliberalism wth paleoconservatism and you have the perfect formula for bad policy.

Fortunately, things are slowly moving in the right direction. Last year's legislation to allow the NH Department of Education to directly authorize charters was a critical step towards breaking the obstructionism of some local school boards. This year, the debate turns to that hardy perennial of NH politics, funding.

Rep. John Hunt has introduced a bill to appropriate funds towards charter schools. Currently, charters are dependent on a combination of federal and state grants, a per-pupil share of state adequacy aid, and whatever private funds a given school can secure. With the high costs associated with the start-up of a school, the per pupil funds aren't really able to cover actual costs. Hopefully, Rep. Hunt's bill (of which I am a co-sponsor) will help alleviate the problem to a certain degree.