I am a veteran teacher at the Learning Community Charter School in Jersey City. I have lived and taught here for over 10 years. I teach in an urban educational setting to make a difference. However, it is difficult to make the sort of difference I aspire to given the inequitable funding impacting New Jersey’s charter schools.
While the Jersey City public schools garner over $17,000 in state aid per student, our charter schools receive less than half of that (roughly $8500 per pupil). From an educator’s standpoint, the chasm that creates in terms of instruction is immense. Case in point: I returned from maternity leave this past fall to a new position necessary to accommodate our growing population. I did not have the most basic of supplies to get my writing program up and running: paper, composition books, folders, dictionaries. The lack of supplies and resources available to teachers in charter schools puts our kids at an immediate disadvantage. Given that, my colleagues and I must think outside the box to get the job done, and I am pleased to say that my school has done so with outstanding results. But while the public schools request tissues, crayons and paper plates from parents, our charter school students lack the fundamental tools they need to learn. The inequity there is glaring.
Charter schools are PUBLIC schools and our kids deserve the same access to resources that students in the district public schools receive. Without those resources, teachers are left to devise methods to teach that while effective, could be exemplary; given my school’s success, imagine the possibilities if we got fair funding? Charter schools deserve more; and so do the children who attend them.