Last summer, over 4,700 kids were on waiting lists hoping to attend an Oregon charter school, according to a report released today by Cascade Policy Institute. Charter schools are public schools run by private non-profit organizations.
Most of Oregon’s charter schools have waiting lists. Some blame charter schools, but it is politicians and bureaucrats who have kept kids waiting.
Cascade’s report, Waiting for Choice, shows that districts frequently impose enrollment caps on individual charter schools, limiting their ability to help more students. Getting district approval to open a new charter school is also time-consuming and costly―often tens of thousands of dollars for the application process alone.
Why have districts made it so difficult to expand educational opportunities? They claim that drawing students away from regular public schools and into charter schools would hurt district revenues. This may hurt district adults; however, it does not hurt kids. In fact, districts are able to spend more per remaining student when kids transfer to charter schools.
If districts would get out of the way, thousands of families could choose the school that fits their kids’ needs. Nationwide and local evidence shows that charter schools succeed at providing a great education, for much less than we spend in regular public schools. Why keep kids waiting for the education that suits them?
Christina Martin is a policy analyst for the School Choice Project at Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free market public policy research organization.