Virtual School Meanderings

March 14, 2019

Report Advocating For More Charter School Facilities Funding Offers Scarce Rationale For Doing So

Another press release on that new National Education Policy Center report.

March 12, 2019

Contact:
William J. Mathis: (802) 383-0058, wmathis@sover.net
Mark Weber: (908) 358-5828, mark.weber@gse.rutgers.edu

Report Advocating for More Charter School Facilities Funding Offers Scarce Rationale for Doing So

Key Takeaway: Report’s flaws in comparison and reasoning hamper its usefulness in guiding Idaho charter school policy.

EAST LANSING, MI (March 12, 2019) – A recent report from Bellwether Education Partners contends that more funding should be given for charter school facilities. Focusing on a series of Idaho case studies, the report argues that charter schools are unfairly denied funding for the construction and renovation of their school buildings. These arguments, while focused on Idaho in this particular report, have been made with regard to charter school policies across the U.S.

Mark Weber of Rutgers and New Jersey Policy Perspective reviewed Fairness in Facilities: Why Idaho Public Charter Schools Need More Facilities Funding. He found several flaws that undermine its usefulness for policymakers looking to provide an adequate and equitable education.

The report makes comparisons of charter and public school facilities spending. But the examples it relies on are not “apples-to-apples” comparisons. It avoids discussing differences in student characteristics between the charter and public school district sectors, and it does not examine the issue of school governance and facilities ownership. This renders any statewide generalizations suspect, and it results in problematic recommendations.

The report bemoans the fact that charter school facilities are not part of local school districts’ bonds and tax levies, yet it does not acknowledge that charter facilities are often owned by private entities. Mandating that local taxpayers support charter facilities would, therefore, force them to pay for buildings they would not own.

Further, the report’s calculation of “costs-per-seat” ignores the reality that different students have different needs. For example, public district schools enroll proportionally more students with disabilities and English language learners, with one consequence being that they tend to have more support staff per pupil than charter schools. These additional staff require additional space to do their work, which may result in greater facilities expenses per pupil in public school districts than in charter schools.

Given these limitations, Dr. Weber concludes that the report provides little guidance for policymakers and other stakeholders at a time when Idaho is working to overhaul its school funding system.

Find the review, by Mark Weber, at: http://greatlakescenter.org/docs/Think_Twice/TT-Weber-Charter-Funding.pdf

Find Fairness in Facilities: Why Idaho Public Charter Schools Need More Facilities Fundingwritten by Kelly Robson, Juliet Squire, and Lynne Graziano, and published by Bellwether Education Partners, at:
https://bellwethereducation.org/sites/default/files/Bellwether_BFP-Idaho_CharterFacilitiesReport_Final.pdf

NEPC Reviews (http://thinktankreview.org) provide the public, policymakers, and the press with timely, academically sound reviews of selected publications. NEPC Reviews are made possible in part by support provided by the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice: http://www.greatlakescenter.org

The National Education Policy Center (NEPC), housed at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education, produces and disseminates high-quality, peer-reviewed research to inform education policy discussions. Visit us at: http://nepc.colorado.edu/

About The Great Lakes Center
The mission of the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice is to support and disseminate high quality research and reviews of research for the purpose of informing education policy and to develop research-based resources for use by those who advocate for education reform.  Visit the Great Lakes Center Web Site at: http://www.greatlakescenter.org.   Follow us on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/greatlakescent.  Find us on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/GreatLakesCenter.

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The mission of the Great Lakes Center for Education Research & Practice is to support and disseminate high quality research and reviews of research for the purpose of informing education policy and to develop research-based resources for use by those who advocate for education reform.

Visit the Great Lakes Center website at http://www.greatlakescenter.org/

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