Thursday, June 02, 2005

In Texas, charters don't cost less

Another myth down the drain. Story here.

Charter school advocates for years have said their schools survive on less money per student than regular public schools. Charter leaders have proclaimed the funding gap for so long that it is accepted as fact among educators.

But it's not true, according to a new report commissioned by the Texas Education Agency.

Charter schools receive more money – not less – than traditional public schools on a per-student basis, according to the Texas Center for Educational Research, a nonprofit group that recently released its seventh evaluation of Texas charter schools.

According to the report, the average charter school received $8,045 for each child it enrolled in 2003. Regular public schools received $8,028. The figures include state and federal aid, grants, donations and local taxes.

The figures strike to the heart of the charter movement, which has presented itself to lawmakers as a cost-effective alternative to traditional public schools.

The only reasonable objection included in the article:

Mike Feinberg, a co-founder of the well-regarded KIPP Academies, said the study was wrong to omit construction money from the analysis of traditional school revenue. Public school districts routinely pay for construction by selling bonds and by receiving state construction aid. Charter schools, generally, pay for their buildings out of their general operating budgets.

The study is "not an apples-to-apples comparison," said Mr. Feinberg, who has been one of the leading advocates for additional funding for Texas charters. "Charter schools do not have access to capital outlay [building] money, and for the public schools that's a huge chunk" of revenue.


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