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Stop Funding Georgia Charter Schools ‘on the Cheap’

February 12, 2018 in Economics

By Corey A. DeAngelis

Corey A. DeAngelis

Atlanta has a great education opportunity ahead, because Georgia
policymakers are considering funding public schools equitably.

The new legislation, House Bill 787, would equalize public charter school
funding with traditional public schools for all 180 school
districts in Georgia, and would cost the state about $10
million.

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Scott Hilton, says that the price
tag is a “drop in the bucket,” especially since charter
school students are currently being educated “on the
cheap.”

He has a point. Research shows charter schools can achieve the
same outcomes or even better than traditional public schools, and
for less money, too. It’s exciting to think about how
successful these schools would be if they received just as much
funding as their traditional counterparts.

As shown in a recent study by my colleagues at the University of
Arkansas and me, Atlanta public charter schools receive around
$2,000 less funding allocated on a per-child basis than their
district school counterparts each year, or almost $26,000 less
throughout a full K-12 education. And we find that despite the
large funding disadvantage, Atlanta public charter schools are 14
percent more cost-effective and produce an 18 percent higher
return-on-investment than their neighboring district schools.

Let’s make this a bit more concrete. The data show that
every thousand dollars spent on education in Atlanta district
schools translates to around a $4,560 increase in students’
lifetime earnings. That is commendable. But that same
thousand-dollar-expenditure produces an estimated $5,370 in
students’ lifetime earnings if allocated to a public charter
school in the city. And that 18 percent advantage is very important
considering that Atlanta taxpayers spend over $210,000 for each
child’s K-12 education in district schools.

In other words, 13 years of equal funding in charter schools
could produce around an additional $170,000 in lifetime earnings
for each charter school student in Atlanta.

Of course, this isn’t the only study finding that charter
schools do more with less. In 2014, researchers at the University
of Arkansas also found that charter schools across the country were
40 percent more productive, as measured by gains in student
achievement, than neighboring district schools. In addition,
experimental studies by researchers at Harvard University and
Princeton University found that male students that won a public
charter school lottery were less than half as likely to commit
crimes later on in life, and female students were 59 percent less
likely to become pregnant as teenagers.

And positive effects like these pay off. When charter schools
reduce the likelihood that students commit crimes as adults,
society spends less resources on policing, court cases, corrections
programs, and prisons.

Overall, the scientific evidence suggests that charter schools
improve academic outcomes for students. Researchers …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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