Higher Expectations, Lower Funding

For years now, the education establishment has debated the value and impact of charter schools throughout the United States.  In cities like Washington, DC, we have seen the positive impact such schools can have.  The number of charters continues to grow.  They are a valuable piece of the public education infrastructure in the city, and as such their oversight has greatly improved over the last decade.  Heck, now we even have the DC Archdiocese converting many of its Catholic schools to public charters to better serve the families of our nation’s capital.

Yes, charters have come a long way.  But we still see many defenders of the status quo set their ire onto these community schools.  Most recently, the attack has been that charters are not academically outperforming the traditional public schools they were intended to replace.  Why, the critics say, would we move more public funds over to these schools if they aren’t an improvement?

The issue of improvement is up for great debate.  Throughout the nation, many charter schools have demonstrated they can succeed where old-school publics have failed, or at least struggled.  In larger urban centers, we’ve seen charter schools change the culture and mindset of both the students and the communities.  And as a result, we see improvement in terms of student achievement.  So how do these charters stack up against the schools they are designed to supplement (or supplant, depending on who you speak with)?

Last week, the Center for Education Reform released its comprehensive survey on charter schools.  http://www.edreform.com/_upload/CER_charter_survey_2008.pdf  There is a great deal of interesting information in the survey.  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.

If we expect our public charter schools to outperform our old-school public schools, moving more students to academically proficient and getting more students on the pathway to success, they need the resources to do so.  If the status quoers are correct, and public charters are only doing as well as other publics today, imagine what may be possible if those public charters were able to increase their budgets by 25 or 35 percent.  

No, money doesn’t buy achievement.  But it does help in employing effective teachers.  It helps in acquiring research-proven instructional materials.  It helps provide learning interventions to those who need it the most.  It helps to provide after-hours learning opportunities.  It helps providing facilities that are conducive to teaching and learning.

The next great chapter of the charter achievement discussion is likely to come from DC, as we witness of the success of the Center City effort to transform those great Catholic schools into public charter schools.  Here’s hoping that those Center City schools get the full funding they need to achieve the lofty goals they have set.  Then, we can continue a real, meaningful discussion of how public charters stack up against the old-school publics.

3 thoughts on “Higher Expectations, Lower Funding

  1. In building up institutions like charters schools, there is a significance involving money somehow. It will not be established successfully if there are no enough funds provided for the facilities. Having a proper educational materials are very important in order to promote a good standard of education for the sake of the students. But the problem that actually happens is, lucking of funds to run the school effectively. In that situation, same day deposit cash advance is there to render service regarding financial assistance.http://personalmoneystore.com

  2. I am glad to hear that you feel “whelmed” is a word. What does it mean? Sounds as if you were neither positively or negatively impressed by the data. Is that what you meant to imply?

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