Charters And Following The Money

Recently, a broad coalition of groups, including the NAACP, sued the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (God save it!) to prevent the state from lifting the cap on the number of charter schools. If you want to know what motivates many supporters, especially politicians, it helps to follow the money (boldface mine):

A motion to intervene is filed by a party other than the plaintiffs or defendants who has a vested interest in the subject matter of the case. In this scenario, the groups are getting involved because they say charter schools divert millions of dollars from traditional public schools each year, but serve far fewer students with disabilities and who are English language learners, as well as impose harsher discipline on students of color

When a student enrolls in a charter school, state law requires that the public school district in which they reside pay the student’s tuition costs. The state is then supposed to reimburse that cost.

But that doesn’t always happen. The lack of charter school reimbursements are a main cause of the $50 million Boston Public Schools budget gap for this coming school year, according to school officials. This year’s reimbursements covered less than half the cost of students who left the district, leaving a deficit of $18.6 million.

Baker proposed a new plan to reimburse districts for funding lost to charter schools, which would double the amount districts receive in the second year from 25 percent to 50 percent of the lost tuition.

But that doesn’t cover the cost of lost tuition,’’ Cofield said. “Even if one hadn’t seen the numbers on discipline, the governor’s plan is evidence that this will continue to be a problem, and more charter schools would only make it worse.’’

And that’s the political angle: the more students in charters, the less that is spent on education. Never mind that in state after state, the discrepancies in dollars per student often result from the hardest-to-teach students (who are underserved by charters). If you believe regular public schools are inherently failing, then Baker’s position makes sense. If you think student performance has largely to do with inputs, then this cost-cutting is reprehensible.

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2 Responses to Charters And Following The Money

  1. Adam Gaffin says:

    It gets even funner this November, when we get to vote on a ballot question that would essentially remove the current cap on charter-school expansion. Lots of money pouring into the state, as you might expect.

  2. Follow the money behind charter schools in a different direction and you’ll find… SURPRISE! Hedge Funds.

    http://prospect.org/article/hedging-education

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