There are articles everyday like the one I read today in Pennsylvania’s The Morning Call. Some district official is interviewed, claiming that traditional public school enrollment has dropped significantly due to students leaving to attend open enrollment charter schools. The official then talks about how rough the district’s financial situation is, and lays the blame on charter schools.
Russ Mayo, Superintendent of Allentown School District, echoed this sentiment on Wednesday. “If all the charter school students came back…” says Mayo, it would bring the district $17 million more a year. The charter and cyber schools that have been established in his district are the “biggest drain” on funding. As the article continues, the superintendent paints a confusing picture of how he has cut staff, he has lowered administrative costs, and he still can’t make ends meet. The tone then turns into a wishful “If only, if only” while thinking of all of the money charter schools supposedly have in their coffers.
But the superintendent just doesn’t get it. He doesn’t get the facts about charter school funding, he doesn’t get the fact about choice and demand, and he doesn’t get the logistical flaw of vilifying charter schools. He doesn’t get the fact that 73% of Americans support charter schools.
I will start with charter school funding. Charter schools are public schools, and it follows that they should be funded at the same rate as every other public school…right? Well, in reality, only 25% of charters schools receive anywhere near the average per pupil funding that the traditional public schools receive according to the Center for Education Reform’s (CER) 2014 Survey of America’s Charter Schools. The Survey also found that overall, charter schools are funded at 64% of their traditional counterparts. The Superintendent may dream of dollars that charter schools