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Tough truths about charters, Siphoning students from private schools is not a viable path to reform
NY Daily News ^ | 09.06.12 | Adam B. Schaeffer

Posted on 09/06/2012 7:33:09 PM PDT by Coleus

Is it possible for charter schools to increase educational options and diversity in the public school system but decrease diversity overall; to spend less money than regular public schools but cost taxpayers more overall, and to outperform regular public schools but decrease achievement overall?

Unfortunately, it is not only possible but is happening in cities across the nation. This mix of intended and unintended outcomes is what’s known as the “charter school paradox,” which hints at the uneasy place these relatively new educational options have in our society.

But it is only a paradox if we take a narrow view of charter school effects. Rigorous new research concludes that public charter schools are seriously damaging the private education market, adding to taxpayer burden, undermining private options for families and reducing healthy competition in the education sector.

The Cato Institute Center for Educational Freedom commissioned Richard Buddin, a former senior economist with the Rand Corp., to look at the enrollment effects of charter schools.

Buddin found that charters serving primary school students in highly urban districts take almost a third of their students from private schools, on average. Urban charters draw nearly a quarter of their middle school students and more than 15% of their high school students from the private sector. Even in nonurban districts, charters pull between 7% and 11% of all their students from private schools.

All this translates into about 190,000 students a year who otherwise would have been in private schools now attending public charter schools.

Charter students who migrated from private schools cost taxpayers about $1.8 billion a year, based on Buddin’s numbers — as well as figures from a Ball State University study on charter school funding. Since the most recent data available for the analysis are from 2008, that figure is likely much higher today.

Moreover, state governments typically spend more per charter school student than they do for students in regular schools, adding to the total cost at the state level. Local governments, however, usually spend far less or nothing at all on charter school students. The cost, in other words, is borne by state governments, many of which are cash-strapped as it is.

And while charter schools may marginally improve the public education system on average, they are wreaking havoc on private education. Because charter schools take a significant portion of their students from private schools and cause a drop in private enrollment, they drive some schools entirely out of business.

That is, they end up raising public costs while decreasing private options. But why is it important to have private schools at all? Why should we be upset that charters are eroding what many think (erroneously) to be bastions of elitism and privilege?

Actually, the private market is vital for innovation — and as competition for the government sector. A raft of rigorous studies finds that competition from private school choice programs significantly improves the performance of kids enrolled in public schools.

In short, competition from private schools is good — even necessary — for the entire education sector. And while private school choice drives overall improvements in education, the verdict on charter schools is far more uncertain.

Another crucial point: Beyond academics, charter schools lack the leeway to do the things that, say, a progressive Montessori school or a conservative Catholic one can. Again, by hurting private schools, we limit parents’ choice to tailor education to social, religious and cultural needs.

Thankfully, we can mitigate these negative and unintended consequences of charter school reform by enacting good private school choice reform. We need policies like education tax credit programs to even out the playing field for families and free them to choose the best school, public or private.

This will help prevent the erosion of private educational options while driving greater competition across the board — and, as ever, increasing pressure on public schools to improve. The promise of charter school reform cannot be realized without a healthy private education marketplace.

Allowing charter schools to continue to cannibalize the private sector costs taxpayers millions, limits competition and, worst of all, hinders sustainable improvement in education overall. Schaeffer is a policy analyst with the Cato Institute’s Center for Educational Freedom and the author of “They Spend WHAT? The Real Cost of Public Education.”


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Editorial; Government; US: Georgia
KEYWORDS: catholicschools; charterschools; education; privateschools; publicschools; schoolchoice; schools; vouchers
This is so true. I don't understand why people who are in favor of vouchers, tuition-tax credits and so on, like charter schools. I've seen charter schools close about 5 Catholic and one private school in Newark, NJ. Most of these schools were in existence for over 50 years and once the charter schools opened nearby, it siphoned most of the students away from the private schools forcing them to close. Charter schools are free and are funded by the taxpayers through the local school board.
1 posted on 09/06/2012 7:33:14 PM PDT by Coleus
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To: Coleus

Charters are government schools that continue to perpetuate an education welfare mentality. Like vampires, they are sucking th elife blood out of private schools.


2 posted on 09/06/2012 7:35:15 PM PDT by achilles2000 ("I'll agree to save the whales as long as we can deport the liberals")
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To: Coleus

Full privatization of education is the only option that will work. Any government involvement is an interference between the parents and the seller of education service.


3 posted on 09/06/2012 7:38:16 PM PDT by Tax-chick (Spinach at every meal.)
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To: Coleus

It’s untrue. Competition promotes excellence. There is no way around it. With no competition anybody with great idea’s soon finds themselves sucked into the inertia of civil service.

Middle class gravitate to cheap, and than means mediocre to atrocious school systems for our future inventors, businessmen, politicians and yes even teachers.


4 posted on 09/06/2012 7:38:16 PM PDT by Usagi_yo
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To: Coleus

Interesting. It seems obvious enough once it has been stated, but I haven’t heard this argument before.

Of course, there are other reasons for the closing of Catholic schools around the country, chiefly the spread of dissidents in the Catholic Church in America, and the decay of the religious orders, including many orders of nuns.

And of course there is the whole problem of affirmative action, not only racial affirmative action, but the conviction that bright kids shouldn’t be given more opportunities than dumb ones.

Still, it seems likely that charter schools are killing private schools, especially in the big cities, as this article argues. How can you have real competition when the government moves in with unlimited tax dollars?


5 posted on 09/06/2012 7:45:46 PM PDT by Cicero (Marcus Tullius)
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To: Usagi_yo

It’s untrue. Competition promotes excellence. >>

There is no competition with charter schools, they are free schools funded by the public school budget in that town, the private schools can’t compete with multi-million dollar budgets provided to the charter schools. If the private school received vouchers to compete with a charter school I would say yes, but as of today, there are no voucher or tuition-credit programs in NJ that fund private schools.


6 posted on 09/06/2012 7:49:52 PM PDT by Coleus
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To: Coleus

This article is stupid.

The answer is simple. Give tuition vouchers to parents and let the schools compete on equal footing. Private schools, public schools and charter schools should compete for tuition dollars. Let the best school win. If this happened people would be amazed how quickly the quality of education improved.

The current system simply doesn’t work. Charters alone are not the answer.


7 posted on 09/06/2012 7:51:38 PM PDT by detective
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To: Coleus
This is a troll attitude toward charter schools. Do they compete with private schools? Yes. Big deal. I have had my kids in private school and in charter school. And by far they got the better education in the charter school (which is one of the top 50 high schools in the country.)

Are they a drain on public schools? With all due respect, I pay taxes and while my kids were in private school, someone else got the benefit of my tax money.

If the education establishment would stop suing them at every turn they could spend their budgets on education rather than on defending themselves from a failed system more interested in teacher pensions than on educating children. I am completely in favor of a voucher system, but in the meantime charter schools, with serious parental involvement, are the best interim step.

8 posted on 09/06/2012 8:02:29 PM PDT by newheart (At what point does policy become treason?)
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To: Coleus

There’s a small one about 45 minutes from me. It’s administered and staffed by drug addicts. Privatize it all.


9 posted on 09/06/2012 8:02:59 PM PDT by familyop ("Wanna cigarette? You're never too young to start." --Deacon, "Waterworld")
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To: familyop; Coleus

THere was one near me which closed due to the EXTREMELY LOW SCORES. The kids were all transferred to other schools and ALL had to repeat the same grade. They were staffed with brand new teachers and a stupid principal. All of the teachers were transferred to other schools. NOt one got fired.

I believe they intent is to deliberately close Catholic Schools, Hospitals, Charities etc., along with other conservative institutions.


10 posted on 09/06/2012 8:11:33 PM PDT by bronxville (Margaret Sanger - “We do not want word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population,)
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To: bronxville

Agreed. I’m in the middle of nowhere on the Rockies, BTW.


11 posted on 09/06/2012 8:18:25 PM PDT by familyop ("Wanna cigarette? You're never too young to start." --Deacon, "Waterworld")
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To: Coleus
Statistics show that charter schools don't get any better results than public schools. And a dirty little secret is that charter schools, unlike public schools, can quietly toss failing kids out the back door, back to public school. Any school, charter, private or public, where you have significant parental involvement is obviously going to have better results.

NYC public schools are jammed with the children of parents who expect the school system to raise their kids. Look at the recent article that the Dept. of Ed now thinks children should be served breakfast at their desks, it's too much trouble for them to walk to the cafeteria. Any subsequent classes in those rooms will then have to sit in filth and use counting roaches and mice as a math activity, since the breakfast eaters find it too much trouble to find the classroom trash can either.

There are also hordes of illegal immigrants clogging up the system, using resources to which they aren't entitled, while YOUR kid goes without or has to sit in an overcrowded classroom. That's because NYC considers itself a sanctuary city, 'cos it's soooo cool.

Mayor Bloombutt has been on a concerted campaign to destroy the NYC public school system so he can hand over the buildings to his zillionaire buddies to make millions running them as charter schools. He deliberately starves targeted schools of resources, then closes the school and reopens it as either a charter or multiple small schools within a building, staffed by brand-new teachers who are CHEAP and who are untenured. The older (tenured and more expensive) teachers who have given so much to their calling of educating their students are tossed out into the "Absent Teacher Reserve" by this subterfuge and have little chance of ever being hired to a permanent job again.

12 posted on 09/06/2012 9:03:15 PM PDT by EinNYC
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To: Coleus
Charter schools are free and are funded by the taxpayers through the local school board.

Yeah, and those taxpayers include the parents of children attending private schools. Now, if those parents did not have to pay public school taxes, I might agree with you. But they do.

As it stands, Americans are spending billions each year to support private schools. If viable public schools exist, that money might be better spent elsewhere.

13 posted on 09/07/2012 3:30:45 AM PDT by BfloGuy (Without economic freedom, no other form of freedom can have material meaning.)
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To: Coleus
(Article) And while charter schools may marginally improve the public education system on average, they are wreaking havoc on private education. Because charter schools take a significant portion of their students from private schools and cause a drop in private enrollment, they drive some schools entirely out of business.

As they were intended to do?

This analysis raises the possibility that the only function charter schools really serve is that of a private-school killer, and that chartering represents a bureaucratic response to an irritant, an elaborate and left-handed expenditure of effort and money to kill off embarrassing competition from Catholic and other private schools.

14 posted on 09/07/2012 6:04:15 AM PDT by lentulusgracchus
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To: bronxville; familyop; Coleus
I believe they intent is to deliberately close Catholic Schools, Hospitals, Charities etc., along with other conservative institutions.

What-you-said bump. Catholic schools have embarrassed public school boards by turning out better measured results year in and year out at a much lower cost per pupil.

15 posted on 09/07/2012 6:07:26 AM PDT by lentulusgracchus
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