Buffalo charter schools are demanding their fair share in state funding. Parents, students, teachers and charter advocates rallied at the Aloma D. Johnson Charter School on Jewett Avenue in Buffalo to call on state lawmakers to end inequity.
"For every one dollar that Buffalo Public school student gets, a Buffalo public charter school student only gets three-fifths of that and we think it's wrong," said Duncan Kirkwood is Western New York Advocacy Manager with the Northeast Charter Schools Network and charter school parent in Buffalo.
Charter schools across the state receive 75-cents on the dollar per-pupil, but in Buffalo the gap is much wider. Buffalo charters receive just 60-cents per-pupil. With the state budget season underway, they're calling on state lawmakers to provide a fair funding share to Buffalo.
Kirkwood led Monday's rally cry.
"We're going to fight for our children, we're going fight and because we're in Buffalo, we're gonna fight until hell freezes over," stated Kirkwood. "We want equality. That's it. We want our fair share. That's it, because my kid matters too."
The Buffalo Urban League is working as a partner with charter schools. Vincent Clark is Vice-President of Development and Communications. "This is a civil rights issue for us. A quality education for all children is critical," said Clark. "So we will stand with our community. We will stand with you. The Buffalo Urban League is a partner in this effort to bring fairness for my children, for your children, for these children, for all children."
Some who rallied today are plaintiffs in a pending lawsuit, Brown vs. New York Charter funding lawsuit.
that challenges how charter schools are funded in the state.
Ingrid Knight is a parent from the Elmwood Village Charter School and a plaintiff. "For me, failing district schools were not a choice," said Knight. "Just imagine if schools like Elmwood Village didn't have to divert funds from their instruction and teacher salaries to pay for our building. For most of our schools, this is a huge portion of our budget."
Advocates say this is just the start of their battle against the inequity.
"I want a legislator to look one of these kids in the face and say you're only worth three-fifths of what another kid is worth. That's just wrong and as a parent, I am offended. Buffalo charter school students make up 20-percent of our school district. That's a huge block just to say 'screw you to', so we are going to register their parents to vote and we're going to take power. We just don't want to have a voice, we want power," explained Kirkwood.