Monday, July 28, 2008

Charter Schools: Doing More with Less

Edufalck highlights a study that talks about charter schools and notes:
But what is most interesting is the statistic that public charter schools receive, on average, 40 percent less funding that other public schools.

Imagine that. Held to the same academic standards by the school district and state. Teaching the same pool of students (or possibly the most difficult students in the pool). Tied to the same real estate, utility, and staffing costs as other schools in the city. Yet these charters are only getting 60 cents on the dollar to deliver BETTER results than those fully-funded schools.
First I would note that at least in Maryland charter schools must, by law and as recently interpreted by the Court of Appeals, recieve essentially the same per pupil funding as a traditional public school (with a small, probably around 3% discount for administrative costs like payroll, etc).

But that is not the point. Many charter opponents argue that charter schools are not doing any better academically than traditional public schools. Fine, but there is at least one lesson to be had if the 40% discout is indeed accurate---

You don't have to spend so much money to get the same results.

By corollary, what if the charter school was getting the same per pupil budget? What would their academic achievements look like then if they were hamstrung by budgetary constraints that don't exist for traditional public schools.

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