The Illogic and Cruelty of Christie's "Fairness Formula"
I'm working on an analysis of the "Fairness Formula" -- Chris Christie's regressive school funding scheme -- and will have it ready shortly. Until then, read my piece at NJ Spotlight on this awful plan.
And, for now, let me add this:
Christie's plan is not only divisive, destructive and, yes, racist -- it is also wholly illogical, for at least two reasons:
1) The plan will inevitably drain money from Christie's beloved charter schools, which rely on "pass-through" funding from the less-affluent local districts Christie is planning to screw over.
NJ charter schools get their funds from local districts, which pass on the state aid and local tax revenue they collect based on the number of students a charter enrolls, and whether those students are at-risk (qualify for free or reduced-price lunch, a proxy measure of economic disadvantage), are Limited English Proficient, or have a special-education need.
You'll often hear the NJ charter industry complain they don't get as much money per pupil as the public district schools. While it's true the law says they get 90 percent of the budgeted amount per pupil compared to the districts*, and while adjustment aid plays a role in some districts, the main reason for the disparity is that charters, on average, enroll fewer at-risk, LEP, and special education students compared to their host districts. The state's law says districts -- and charters -- get more money for these students, a policy based on reams of research. If you don't enroll them, you don't get the funds. It's that simple.
These charters are disproportionately concentrated in the districts that will suffer most under the "Fairness Formula": the "A" and "B" districts as designated by the state's District Factor Group (DFG) classification system. Which means that even though they enroll fewer at-risk students proportionally compared to their hosts, they still enroll many more than the 'burbs.
And that means the charters will also suffer under the "Fairness Formula," even with their Jersey Jazzman: The Illogic and Cruelty of Christie's "Fairness Formula":