Opposition Launches Legal Challenge to Nevada’s New School Choice Program

CER Stands With Parents in Nevada ESA Lawsuit

News Alert
August 27, 2015

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is challenging Nevada’s newly created and not even yet implemented Education Savings Account (ESA) program.

The ESA program was created in 2015 by Nevada lawmakers with the intention of giving nearly all parents a choice in how to use education funds best in order to fit their child’s unique individual learning needs. Set to begin in January 2016, a parent could use a portion or all of their child’s education funding towards private school tuition or tutoring services, for example.

“It’s sickening that a group with the slogan of protecting individual rights and liberties is in fact doing the opposite and challenging a program that would give parents the freedom to exercise their right to ensure their child gets the best education possible,” said CER president Kara Kerwin (@CERKaraKerwin).

“Most states in the U.S. earn a grade of D when it comes to empowering parents,” Kerwin said, referring to CER’s Parent Power Index. “Nevada lawmakers understood they were putting the interests of parents and students first by enacting this ESA program, and we stand with them and Nevada leaders and parents in this lawsuit brought on by a group clearly only interested in protecting the status quo.”

There have been many lawsuits to school choice programs across the U.S. since the first was created in Milwaukee in the early 1990s, and they’re typically brought on by BLOB (“Big Learning Organization Bureaucracies”) groups intending to protect the traditional education establishment as it stands. History has been on the side of parents and students however, with the most notable case being in 2002 when the U.S. Supreme Court in the Zelman v. Simmons-Harris case ruled that the state of Ohio was within its constitutional power to enact a school choice program for Cleveland children. Arizona, the first state with an ESA program, survived a legal challenge based on the same grounds as the current Nevada lawsuit to its ESA program in 2013.



NEWSWIRE: August 25, 2015

Vol. 17, No. 33

BACK TO SCHOOL. As many students and teachers – and undoubtedly parents! – celebrated the #FirstDayofSchool yesterday, we can’t help but think about the number of parents and students who still don’t have access to excellent schools. With just six percent of the total K-12 school-aged population taking advantage of choice programs, and states barely scratching the surface when it comes to offering parents real power over their children’s education, the need for more and better learning opportunities is now. As National School Choice Week President and CER Grassroots Advisory Board member Andrew Campanella said:

Parent Power means “every child has the opportunity to achieve his or her American Dream.”


And as Families Empowered Founder & Executive Director and CER Grassroots Advisory Board member Colleen Dippel said, Parent Power is not a fictional tale created by policy wonks in Washington, D.C.

“In just the city of Houston alone, 37,000 applications for 2,000 spots. As a parent myself, if I were one of the 35,000 parents on waitlists and I had to sent my child back to a failing school, that would sure make me feel powerless.”

Influencers “treat our families as if they are not in charge of their own children,” said Democracy Prep Public Schools CEO and CER Grassroots Advisory Board member Katie Duffy. “I think that’s a huge mistake.”

The power to make a conscious decision about “what you want and what you value for your own kids [is] something every parent should have.”


Hear more from people on the ground across the nation about why parent power is important, and check out the newly designed Parent Power Index to see how your state stacks up and what you can do to get more #ParentPower in your community.

NASHVILLE NEEDS MORE. Two KIPP charter schools in Nashville were denied based on concerns about the fiscal impact of the schools on the district and “perceived practices” of the schools, and because KIPP Nashville still has open seats to fill in some schools. However, an analysis reveals that the schools would actually be an investment for the district and not have a negative impact on the district’s budget. KIPP Nashville applied based on what the district said it wanted in 2013, which is schools serving high-needs areas, but now has suddenly shifted its position. According to the latest state test results, the Nashville Metro Public Schools district has fewer students at proficient or advanced in all test categories compared to statewide averages. A tragedy to think about when that number is a mere 39 percent of Nashville 3rd-8th graders at proficient or advanced in reading, and 47 percent at proficient or advanced in math. Meanwhile, KIPP Academy Nashville was recently recognized by Gov. Haslam for being in the top five percent in growth in the state. As Nashville mayor Karl Dean points out in The Tennessean, Nashville will never have enough KIPPs or enough of any other excellent charter schools until every single student has the chance to attend a school that puts them on their own personal path to success. Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time Nashville has shown its aversion to charter schools either. In 2012, Great Hearts Academies had to cease its efforts to open a school in Nashville after the city refused to comply with the state’s orders to allow the school to operate. Schools being denied regardless of the merit of their application happens far too often, and in 2014, the Tennessee legislature passed a much-needed binding appeal for the State Board of Education when districts like Nashville unfairly deny choices for students. While the school board has already said it would challenge the new law, there’s no doubt that KIPP Nashville would prevail in its appeal to provide an excellent option for Music City’s families. Until that happens, the question shouldn’t be “When is enough enough?”, but rather “How can we have more of these sooner?”.

NEW SHERIFF IN TOWN. Serving our Children has been named by the U.S. Department of Education as the organization that will now administer scholarships under the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program (DC OSP). Despite attempts by the Obama administration to undercut this program, which serves families with an average annual income of $22,000 or less, the DC OSP has been a lifeline for the students it serves. Ninety percent of DC OSP students graduate from high school, compared to D.C.’s overall graduation rate of 62 percent. Not only that, but the program boasts a 95 percent parental satisfaction rate. Talk about #ParentPower! Let’s hope leaders in our nation’s capital recognize the tremendous power of this program to transform students’ lives, and expand the program beyond where it is now, as no new students are allowed to enroll despite it being authorized by Congress until 2016 because of funding neglect.

BEHIND THE PDK/GALLUP POLL. After 47 years, the Phi Delta Kappa International poll in conjunction with Gallup on “The Public’s Attitudes Toward the Public Schools” continues to suffer from loaded questions that lack the ability to derive valid answers about how Americans truly feel about education reforms today. For instance, a question about vouchers implies that they come at the cost of the traditional public school system. Not only is this not true, but it also suggests that parents seeking options outside of their zoned schools are suddenly not part of the public. Perhaps the most interesting thing about this year’s poll, however, is its agenda-driven message that “testing doesn’t measure up for Americans,” when in fact the results indicate that populations who typically aren’t afforded choices support school choice and high standards in education, and believe measures like testing are an important factor in determining school quality and improvement. It’s critical that the voices of parents and community leaders across the nation vying for more #ParentPower in and among schools, and need for laws that truly make this possible, especially for those who have none, are not overpowered by special interest groups that continue to promote status quo interests above all else.

#EDlection2016 BEGINS. CER was on the ground last week in New Hampshire as six presidential candidates shared their views on education. A refreshing focus as education unfortunately doesn’t make the cut as a headliner topic during election cycles. We’ve got a recap of candidates’ views here, and will continue to keep you posted as the 2016 election draws closer with CER’s Education Fifty, your #EDlection headquarters dedicated to providing you, the voter, with the information that can best inform your vote, ensuring meaningful changes to our educational system are realized.

Karl Dean: Never enough great schools in Nashville

by Karl Dean
The Tennessean
August 24, 2015

“When is enough enough?”

That question was posed during the Metro school board’s meeting Tuesday night before the board voted to deny KIPP Nashville’s charter applications – applications that were recommended for approval by the district’s charter review committee.

It’s a question worth considering.

When will we have enough KIPP in Nashville? When will we have enough of the tireless efforts of Randy Dowell and his devoted team of school leaders, teachers and staff members? When will we have enough schools in our city successfully getting our youngest citizens to and through college?

KIPP has been part of the fabric of Nashville for more than a decade, changing the lives of some of Nashville’s most at-risk students. Kids like LaTrya Gordon, who attended seven other public schools before finding the academic environment she needed at KIPP Nashville, where she thrived.

As is true for all KIPP students, KIPP’s commitment to LaTrya didn’t end with eighth grade. During high school, her former KIPP teachers helped her navigate challenging housing circumstances so she could support her family.

Now a rising junior at Belmont University, LaTrya drives her brother to first grade at KIPP Kirkpatrick before interning at KIPP Academy Nashville, where she dedicates her time to helping the next generation of KIPP students succeed.

LaTrya’s story is not an anomaly. Just a few months ago, Gov. Bill Haslam recognized KIPP Academy Nashville as a Reward School for once again being in the top 5 percent in growth in the state.

Their scholars posted the school’s best reading and science results ever. KIPP Nashville Collegiate High School’s students posted growth scores in English and Algebra last year that were in the top 4 percent in the state.

And all of this happened in academic environments that can only be described by anyone who has walked into a KIPP school as joyful and inspired.

KIPP isn’t just serving Nashville well. More than 6,000 KIPP alumni are enrolled in colleges across the country today.

With former KIPP students graduating from college at a rate higher than the national average and five times higher than other low-income students, KIPP Nashville is part of a national team that is literally changing lives throughout the United States. Cities around the country would give anything to have KIPP serving students in their communities.

And KIPP is not the only public charter school providing Nashville’s most challenged students a high-quality option. Nine of the district’s highest-performing middle schools last year were charter schools, including KIPP. These schools are doing amazing work.

So to the question of when is enough enough, I would say this: Nashville will not have enough KIPP – or enough of any of our other high-quality charter schools – until every single child in the city has the same opportunity that LaTrya had.

All children should have access to an education, whether it’s at a charter school or a traditional public school, that puts them on the path to a future they once thought beyond their reach.

Until then, the question shouldn’t be, “When is enough enough?” The question should be, “How can we have more of these, sooner?”

Our city’s families deserve nothing less.

Karl Dean is the sixth mayor of the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County.

PDK/Gallup Results Reveal Need for Parent Power

Behind Agenda-Driven Results Is Need for School Choice and High Standards in Education

Phi Delta Kappa International in conjunction with Gallup released their 47th annual poll for 2015 on “The Public’s Attitudes Toward the Public Schools.”

This year’s survey, which continues to suffer from biased and misleading questions as it has in years past, focuses heavily on testing, with the takeaway being “testing doesn’t measure up for Americans.”

However, a closer look at the data reveals populations typically underserved by the traditional school system favor high standards and choices when it comes to their child’s education.

TESTING: Blacks and Hispanics are more likely than whites to say that standardized testing is an important factor in improving schools and determining school quality. Fifty-seven percent of blacks say parents should not opt-out from having their children take standardized tests, and 75 percent of black respondents and 65 percent of Hispanic respondents would not excuse their child from testing, compared to 44 percent of whites.

CHOICE: Nearly two thirds of Americans support parents selecting any public school within their district, and 64 percent of Americans support charter schools. However, CER’s Survey of America’s Attitudes Towards Education Reform reveals support for charter schools increases to 73 percent when survey respondents are provided the definition of charter schools.

The PDK/Gallup poll reveals just 31 percent of Americans support “allowing students and parents to choose a private school to attend at public expense,” more commonly known as vouchers.

However, using the phrase “at public expense” creates the illusion that parents who are seeking choices outside of the traditional public education system are not part of the “public,” and incorrectly implies that choice programs are a financial strain when the reality is they typically do more to educate students with less money.

BOTTOM LINE: Poll results from an organization that represents status quo interests should not overpower voices of parents on the ground in communities that simply want more and better education options for their children.

“Since I live in South Central, I don’t have a choice between a good school and the best school. I had a choice between the worst schools and a good education all around,” said Jesus Andrade of Los Angeles, California, who has two sons attending public charter schools, in the 2015 PDK/ Gallup poll results report.

Jesus’ sentiment is one echoed by many parents across the nation, and is why CER continues to advocate for more Parent Power in education, and created its new and improved Parent Power Index, so parents and community leaders can have more control in and among schools, creating laws that truly provide increased power, particularly to those who have none.

Special Parent Power! NEWSWIRE: August 18, 2015

Vol. 17, No. 32

INFORMATION IS POWER. Everyone knows that parents can make great choices when they have good information and an opportunity to use it. That opportunity is only available in states and communities that permit a wide variety of options to parents. Since 1993 CER has been advocating for increased Parent Power!, and analyzing the data and policies that make the most number of choices available to the most number of parents. Later this week, CER will be revealing the new and improved Parent Power Index(c), 2015, a central repository to learn how states are doing providing Parent Power! and specific steps they need to take to increase it. We’ve made the PPI tools mobile, more user friendly and parent approved! Be sure to stay tuned at www.edreform.com for the big reveal on Thursday, August, 20.

WHAT IS PARENT POWER? Dr. Marco Clark, Founder and CEO of Richard Wright Public Charter School in Washington, D.C., and Julie Collier, Parents Advocate League Founder & Executive Director and CER Grassroots Advisory Board member, are just two of many Edreform superstars that sat down with CER to provide insight on the importance of Parent Power!:

“When IJulie Collier PPI 2015 hear parent power it gives me hope. Once parents are informed, they are definitely a force to be reckoned with.” –Julie Collier


Screen Shot 2015-08-18 at 11.02.26 AM“Empowering them gives them a voice. When you empower parents, their voice becomes stronger.” – Dr. Marco Clark


MORE POWER PLEASE. As a debate over the constitutionality of Washington State’s charter school law remains in the works, all eight charter schools opening this year are filled to capacity, reports the Seattle Times. The Evergreen State permits just up to 40 charter schools over a five-year period according to the C-rated charter school law created in 2012. With an overall Parent Power Index grade of 68 percent – which by the way is a ‘D’ according to most U.S. school report cards! – it’s no surprise parents are scrambling to take advantage of the charter schools, as they really aren’t afforded any other options when it comes to choosing the best education for their child.

POWER OF VIRTUAL SCHOOLING. North Carolina parents have a new option for their children this school year: virtual charter schools. Parents in the Tarheel State have been able to take advantage of brick and mortar charter schools since the late 90’s, but the fact that one of the state’s first virtual charter schools has already met the arbitrary cap of 1,500 students and has a wait list points to the fact that the state must continue to grow options in order to meet parent demand. Thankfully, the school voucher program just recently survived a legal challenge in the State Supreme Court, so a certain segment of parents meeting income requirements will have access to vouchers that can open up the doors to private school as an option for their child.

#EDlection2016 AND PARENT POWER. Will #ParentPower be at the center of the education debate? By now it should be clear that the need for more parent power is not limited to one community, city, or state, and CER hopes that candidates in New Hampshire this week tackle this issue head on. The first of two Education Summits sponsored by The Seventy Four with the American Federation for Children and the Des Moines Register will feature candidates Bush, Christie, Fiorina, Jindal, Kasich & Walker on August 19 at 8:50am EST as they discuss K-12 education in America. Before the debate, see where governors stand on vital reform issues at Education Fifty, your #EDlection headquarters, dedicated to providing you, the voter, with the information that can best inform your vote, ensuring meaningful changes to our educational system are realized. Tune into the debate on August 19 live here, and follow the conversation on Twitter at @Edreform and #EDlection2016.


Fact-Checking Charter School Philanthropy

Myths and misinformation still permeate the discourse about charter schools, especially when it comes to funding, with charter school critics erroneously accusing the charter sector of being controlled by the purse strings of “evil private interests.”

The D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute (DCFPI) investigated the finances of public charter schools in the District of Columbia, and set the record straight in an August 2015 report that analyzed the annual D.C. Public Charter School Board’s Financial Audit Review (FAR). Chief among the findings was that 82 percent of funds allocated to public charter schools come from the local D.C. government, 10 percent of the revenue comes directly from the federal government, and only six percent of their funds comes from private philanthropy.

In its look into charter school finances, DCFPI further found that the majority of D.C. charter schools received less than $500 per student ($377 per student was median amount) from philanthropic sources.

Yet, little more information can be derived from the report due to the structure of the FAR. DCFPI contended that the D.C. Public Charter School Board’s yearly fiscal reporting on philanthropic revenue “is broad, thus requiring stakeholders to contact each individual local education agency for more detailed information.” This means it is difficult to know the exact breakdown of philanthropic funding of charter schools in D.C. The report recommends including an itemized summary of these funds, like the share of private foundation grants, parent fees or PTA fundraising, in the FAR each year.

What we do know is that certain charter schools receive much more than $500 per student and some receive much less. Of the 60 charters analyzed, 38 of them received less than $500 per pupil. Charter schools run by well-known organizations or that have been in D.C. for a longer period of time, such as KIPP DC receive a much larger piece of the philanthropic pie, accounting for close to $17 million in revenue and about $4,600 per pupil. These larger charter networks also have senior staff devoted to fundraising, where the smaller start-up charter schools are doing the best with what they have to educate their kids due in large part to the overall charter funding inequity in D.C.

Until there is more transparency, there will be no way of knowing just how much of the six percent of philanthropic support comes from private foundations for each charter school. However, it is worth noting that a large share of that portion of philanthropic support, particularly for the local, mom-and-pop charters, comes from the surrounding community – the parents. Bake sales, school sporting events, and PTA fundraising could represent a large piece of the pie, meaning “philanthropy” is not just defined by large special interest groups.

Other key findings in this report include data on charter school expenses. Not surprisingly, 61 percent of spending is on personnel expenses, with the next highest percentages of expenditures being occupancy expenses like utilities and maintenance at 17 percent, and direct student expenses at 11 percent. The charter schools that spend the most money in D.C. do so because they serve large populations of English Language Learners and students with special needs.

The full PDF report can be found here.

NEWSWIRE: August 11, 2015

Vol. 17, No. 31

CATHOLIC SCHOOL COMEBACK. According to a new report from Faith in the Future, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia will have happy news to share with Pope Francis when he comes to visit in September. Philadelphia Catholic schools are projecting a growth in the number of students they serve, and the high school system, previously in deficit, is now reporting a surplus in funds, which are being reinvested back into the schools. Catholic schools have been suffering nationwide for years because of a changing education marketplace, but this report sheds light on how Faith in the Future believes they are “successfully creating a new operating model to increase educational opportunities, enhance the quality of education in Catholic schools, and demonstrate how private sector solutions can leapfrog even the most innovative charter school reforms.” Indeed, a welcome development not only for Philly, where the people in charge seem to be interested in limiting options, denying 87 percent of the latest charter school applications, but a welcome development for Catholic education as a whole, as research has shown these schools not only have impact on student outcomes, but the neighborhoods and communities they serve.

CHARTER POWER. The number of charter schools in Baton Rouge, Louisiana has doubled in just three years, with four new schools opening this month, reports The Advocate. Great news, since while 100 percent of students in New Orleans attend charter schools, districts outside of the Big Easy tend not to encourage or promote the creation of charter schools. As the tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina approaches, hopefully districts across Louisiana will start to take notice just how much charter schools have helped changed student outcomes in New Orleans. But changes can’t rely on people who are in charge in those districts – strong policy must be part of the equation. Louisiana’s C-rated charter school law should be stronger to help empower all families in the Bayou State choose the best education for their kids.

MONEY MYTHS. A report out by the D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute helps dispel the misconceptions about charter school funding in the nation’s capital. Critics have long claimed that private philanthropy has played a major role in the success and sustainability of the charter sector sometime referred to as the “evil, private special interests.” However, this new report reveals only six percent of funds for D.C. charters come from private sources (mostly parent bake sales), averaging less than $500 per student annually. The fact is public charter schools are funded at approximately 36 percent less than their traditional public school counterparts, and even D.C., which has an otherwise strong charter law, comes up short for charters, which is why schools here are in the midst of a suit for equity for all kids.

GOODBYE SUMMER INTERNS. As parents and students across the country are gearing up for back to school, so too are CER’s summer interns. And while we’re sad to see them go, we know they’re heading back to their institutions of higher education armed with the knowledge, information and data about the kinds of reforms needed to ensure all parents have access to options that deliver on the promise of an excellent education for children. How do we know this? We’d tell you, but they tell it better in their own words on CER’s blog, Edspresso, where they have their own Intern Corner. Here are a few excerpts:

I was immediately struck by the CER logo, most specifically by the sun. It was fun, something a little different. However, as time went on, I learned just how much the sun embodies CER’s mission and work. [My experience at CER] allowed me to see that education is not limited to a traditional public school setting but rather that every child is unique and as a result every child has a right to his own choice of school. Education is the great equalizer; this is something we must cherish as well as protect. The sun can never set on education reform until every parent has a choice so every child has a chance.”
Read the full post here

“How was your summer working at the National Education Association?”
“Great, except I spent my summer working at The Center for Education Reform.”
This small conversation with my dad parallels a prominent aspect of the Education Reform movement: the power and importance of knowledge and information. …One of the most important things I learned was that this movement would be nothing if parents and community members were not accurately informed about their options of education for their children.

“The words I have heard on an almost daily basis, ‘The work in this movement is never done’, inspire me to continue work with the education reform movement long after I exit the office of CER for the final time this summer.
Read the full post here

We’re thankful for our interns’ hard work and dedication, and are excited to see what they will to do help advance education reform in the U.S. And we’re excited to get our Fall 2015 interns, so if you fit the bill or know someone who does, be sure to apply today!

PARENT POWER. As another CER intern wisely noted reflecting on her summer, it’s vitally important for parents to have options, but just as important for parents to have access to information about options. This is why CER’s Parent Power Index is getting a makeover with new data and tools, so parents can more easily navigate (and go mobile too) and see just how much – or – little power their state affords them. Stay tuned!


Growing and Sustaining Catholic Schools: Lessons From Philly

Screen Shot 2015-08-11 at 2.12.12 PM

Screen Shot 2015-08-11 at 2.13.55 PMAccording to a new report, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia will have happy news to share with Pope Francis when he comes to visit in September.

Across the United States, Catholic schools have been suffering declining enrollment, but Faith in the Future has announced that the Philadelphia system of Catholic schools are now projecting growth in the number of students they serve. Additionally, the high school system, previously in deficit, is now reporting a surplus in funds, which are being reinvested back into the schools themselves.

While Pennsylvania Catholic schools have also generally benefited from the state’s two tax credit scholarship programs, which allow parents who might not otherwise be able to afford to send their kids to Catholic schools to choose that option. While public policy solutions are important to keep on the table, as they could have a huge impact on the ability of the religious school sector as a whole to remain solvent, Catholic school leaders can’t wait for the next governor to make school choice his or her priority; the crisis is real and now.

In 2011, The Center for Education Reform issued a policy alert taking a critical look at the issues facing struggling Catholic schools, suggesting that the future success of Catholic schools will be tied directly to the ability of Catholic school leaders to integrate faith missions with business skills, and embracing the kinds of changes taking place in the education marketplace at large.

And indeed, the Faith in the Future report notes part of the reason for significant progress has been “reinforcing business process in pursuit of a new growth strategy.”

Acknowledging that it is still early, Faith in the Future believes they are “successfully creating a new operating model to increase educational opportunities, enhance the quality of education in Catholic schools, and demonstrate how private sector solutions can leapfrog even the most innovative charter school reforms.”

In an era where Catholic schools have been struggling to maintain enrollment, these are indeed welcome developments for Catholic education.

Number of Baton Rouge charter schools doubles in 3 years; four new ones open this week

by Charles Lussier
The Advocate
August 5, 2015

Four new charter schools are opening their doors this week in Baton Rouge, joining an increasingly crowded local education marketplace.

They bring the total number of charter schools in East Baton Rouge Parish to 25, double the total just three years ago. Charter schools are public schools run by private organizations via charters, or contracts.

All four of the new schools bill themselves as places that will prepare children for success in college. The vast bulk of their students, though, won’t be old enough to enroll in college for another decade.

Each offers a different formula for how to get them there.

At Democracy Prep Baton Rouge, for instance, the focus is on creating active, informed citizens from the youngest age.

“If a kid hasn’t done a phone bank or raised money for a cause, they can’t graduate from Democracy Prep,” explained Alice Maggin, a spokeswoman for the New York City-based charter management organization, which operates 17 schools in three states, as well as the District of Columbia.

Start-of-the-day classroom meetings are called “town halls.” The need to “change the world” is reinforced repeatedly throughout the school. Come Election Day, students will canvass the community wearing T-shirts and handing out fliers saying, “I Can’t Vote, But You Can!”

Read the rest of the article here

Ed experts mum on improving schools without raising taxes

By PG Veer
Watchdog Arena
August 3, 2015

With the school year just on the horizon, WalletHub published its annual report on states with the best and worst education systems. What catches the eye in this 2015 report is the failure of the experts to answer an important question: What can state and local policymakers do to improve their school systems without raising taxes?

Considering the severe budgetary constraints most states are experiencing, especially because of Medicaid expansion under Obamacare, cost-saving suggestions and solutions would be welcomed.

One possible solution would be to hold ineffective teachers accountable for student performance, even when they have tenure. On that subject, Massachusetts shines, ranking well above the national average, according to the National Council on Teacher Quality. At the other end of the spectrum, states like California, Alaska, Oregon, and Washington, DC, which Wallet Hub ranks among the worse states, have rather poor standards for firing low-performing teachers – when they do have standards.

Another performance booster that could cut costs is school choice. School choice allows parents more options beyond the traditional neighboring school and may actually improve their children’s education, especially for low-income groups in urban areas. Despite depending on public funds for students, charter schools can end up saving money for taxpayers. Since most states don’t fund charter schools capital improvements, administrators are the ones paying for its upkeep. And since most of their teachers are not unionized, they can keep their costs down.

In the Center for Education Reform’s Parent Power Index, which rates states based on how much each empowers parents to make decisions regarding their child’s education, Massachusetts would do well to improve its school choice options as the PPI ranks the state 30th. Its very limited charter school options and virtual school options weighed the state down.

Wallet Hub does show a weak correlation between spending and outcomes in its 2015 report, it isn’t everything. Louisiana, despite its ranking of 47th by Wallet Hub, ranked seventh on the PPI, thanks to a very vast network of school vouchers, online, and charter schools. Massachusetts does spend the most per student (over $14,000) and has the best results, but New York is #2 in spending and has the 34th best education system overall – Alaska respectively ranks 4th in spending with an overall ranking of51.

Utah is only underspent per student ($6,200) by Arizona while having the 14th best education system. Utah also ranks at number six on the PPI. Could money influence such a discrepancy between spending and outcomes?

This article was written by a contributor of Watchdog Arena, Franklin Center’s network of writers, bloggers, and citizen journalists.