Charter Schools Achieve Superior Outcomes with Unequal Funding

CascadeNewLogoBy Kathryn Hickok

The University of Arkansas has published a first-ever comparison study of cost effectiveness and return on investment between different types of public schools.The Productivity of Public Charter Schools rates 28 states and the District of Columbia according to the productivity of charter schools relative to traditional public schools.

Public charter schools receive 36% less funding on average than regular district schools. While greatly underfunded relative to district schools, charter schools in many states score significantly higher in math and reading on the eighth grade National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP). Oregon’s charter schools receive 44% less funding than regular district schools and achieve higher NAEP scores at lower cost.

The study advises that the higher productivity of many charter schools may be associated with exercising greater discipline with education dollars than traditional public schools do. Studies have shown that increased public education funding hasn’t helped students learn better. “Not only are charter schools doing more with less, they are on the whole demonstrating a superior ability to act as responsible stewards of taxpayer dollars,” said Kara Kerwin, president of The Center for Education Reform.

Rather than continually increasing traditional public school funding, let’s reconsider what we already spend. Giving traditional public schools the freedom to imitate what works for successful charters may do more to improve children’s learning outcomes than allocating more money to the status quo.

Kathryn Hickok is Publications Director and Director of the Children’s Scholarship Fund-Portland program at Cascade Policy Institute.

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Posted by at 05:00 | Posted in Education | Tagged , , , , , | 70 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • Spence

    Of course they do…they don’t have union thugs as the teachers…but actual subject matter specialists…not slackers who took a bunch of lazy ed classes….to learn to “teach”….
    And, they don’t get up and leave at 3:00 because “my contact hours are over” if helping a student….and they actually work an 8 hour day, not 4 or 5 hours like the typical “fair share” union boss…
    Figure it out.

    • Hard working teacher

      Too many misconceptions to try and correct them all but here are just one or two. In Oregon almost all charter schools are part of a specific school district. They operate on less money (provided to them by their home district) because they have several areas that are not part of their budget, for example they have no admin costs, no maintenance, no transportation cost and even no food costs. A charter in Redmond provides no food service. It’s location allows for student to eat at local shops or they have to brown bag it. Most charters don’t provide any bus service. Part of the deal is kids walk or parents drive them.
      In Oregon at least, I can’t speak for all states, charter teachers are part of the home school teachers union. In my district our charter school teachers (k-8) are part of our teachers union. I am familiar with 4 other charter schools in oregon and they are all like my district where the charter school teachers are employed by the West Linn school dist and are members of the WL teachers union. I use WL as an example. I’m not actually familiar with the WL school district.
      So “Spence” I don’t really hold you at fault as you have been brainwashed to believe as you do. But in closing I would say this: I have never had a teaching job, never known anyone who has a teaching job-that only works 4-5 hours a day! But, if you could point me in the direction of that job I’d love to have it. If it’s so easy and such a slack job then do what I did. Get a double major in advanced mathematics and education and go get a job teaching 35 thirteen year olds.

      • Jonathan

        Glad to hear from you Eric, about these almost Orwellian claims for charter schools. This group at the University of Arkansas is very partisan for charter schools. It would be interesting to see a refutation from other experts who are less enthusiastic about school choice.

        From what I can tell, school choice has modest benefits at best, certainly it is not the “magic bullet” for our school problems, any more than most of the other popular “cures.”

  • raven6

    If it were only funny that the Socialist/Communist left always parrot the
    “needs of the children” —– Kitzhaber brought in UNESCO ( UN )
    education, and then “Common Core” which is less than an education at all.
    The progressives are actuality a regressive group. While political parties are a myth, the idea of self determination verse the Gulag
    should not be such a hard decision.

  • Bluebaer22

    I do not believe this study. There is one charter school that was locked when the students went to register, and the schoold is Louisiana are not teaching enough core subjects to allow the students to qualify for college admission! Admitted there are a couple the may be good, but the majority are only money mills!

    • MrBill

      No doubt there are bad charter schools. But if a charter is failing, they have to improve or they’re out of business. With failing public schools (and there are failing public schools as well), the solution is almost always calls for more money.

      • Hard working Teacher

        Mr Bill,
        Not in Oregon, with current laws, students are allowed to leave failing school for successful schools. Just like a failing business, failing schools will see a decline in clients (students) a subsequent decline in employees (teachers will be RIF’d) and a potential closing. Often the school reopens with new leadership and a new focus (new business model).

  • Bob Clark

    Charter schools are being resisted by Portland Public Schools at every turn of the legislative session. But just as Uber and other technological advances start to break down one artificial monopoly (TaxiCab service), hopefully it won’t be long before Uber like school choices blossom and make PPS and other education bureaucracies less so and more competitive.

    The one stick PPS has is control over tax dollars, and this is a stick we need to remove, allowing students to take their public dollars with them no matter what educational venue they choose.

  • MrBill

    This probably explains why the public education establishment doesn’t like charter schools. No one likes being shown up.

  • Fair Laws

    I think one reason charter schools might be able to show higher rating/better results sometimes is because the parents who take their children to charter schools are more involved and motivated in their children’s education to begin with – education begins at home.

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