This morning, The Buffalo News published an op-ed from Brown v. New York plaintiff Russell Bell on why his family has joined the fight for funding equality. You can read his piece below, and learn more about his family here.
One of my heroes, Martin Luther King Jr., said, “Justice too long delayed is justice denied.”
That line resonates as I work to ensure that justice is delivered for my children, and all other students in New York State who attend charter schools.
That is why my family is part of the lawsuit Brown v. New York. This lawsuit challenges the constitutionality of the funding scheme used by the state to allocate money to charter schools.
In short, our children are being shortchanged because we, their parents, enrolled them in a charter school. A public charter school. And they aren’t just being cheated by a few dollars. They receive only three-fifths of what children in traditional schools receive – 60 cents on the dollar.
To make matters worse for our kids and our schools, charters don’t receive access to facilities funding, so the schools are using precious few resources to pay for their buildings.
This is not “us” against “them,” or charter schools against traditional district schools. Charter students are public school students. My wife, Tammy, and I have three grown children who attended traditional district schools. But we’ve taken a different route with our three young children, Samanuel, Samina and Mark, and proudly enrolled them in King Center Charter School. As taxpaying citizens in Buffalo, we don’t want our younger children denied what should be theirs simply because we exercised our right.
We chose King Center because it provided a model we admire. It provides a collaborative approach to learning, where leaders, teachers, parents and students work together to ensure the best outcome – a great education where children learn how to succeed.
The wonderful teachers at King Center approach education as though each student is their own child. They make a conscious and concerted effort to connect with the children and their families.
They work through racial and cultural barriers so they can relate to the children they serve. They encourage children of color to take pride in their history and heritage. This is important to Tammy and me. We respect the teachers at this school because of their profound respect for their students.
We’ve seen how charter schools can help kids achieve what some of them may have thought impossible. Charter schools can turn around a struggling district. Here in Buffalo, lots of people are talking about ways to improve the district. Investing in our charters as part of the solution, and affording them fair funding, is a great place to start.
Russell Bell is the father of three students at King Center Charter School and a plaintiff in the Brown v. New York lawsuit.
This article originally appeared on The Buffalo News.
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