Charter Schools Have Financial Benefits
Special Report - November 7, 2008
Allowing parental choice in education through charter schools appears to increase the odds that a school finance ballot measure will pass, according to a new study by Lawrence University associate professor of government, A.F. Shober. Published by the National Center for the Study of Privatization in Education, the study entitled, “Fulfilling Parents’ Wishes: Property Taxes, School Choice and Referendum Success,” analyzes data from the results of school finance ballot measures in Wisconsin between 1998 and 2005. Professor Shober focused on Wisconsin because the state has had a charter school law in place for over a decade, and has “one of the highest per student number of charter schools in the country (one charter school per 3,788 students).”
Shober notes that previous research has shown that parental choice in education (or school choice) increases parental satisfaction and involvement with schools. He argues that these parents are more likely to be satisfied with their child’s education and more interested in school district policies in general. “Thus, permitting or encouraging school choice in a district may be a way to curry favor with these potential voters in a school district bond or mill rate referendum,” Shober writes.
Shober found that adding one charter school to a school district that does not have one increases the likelihood that a school finance ballot measure will succeed by 4.1 percent. When the number of charter schools is increased from zero to 8, the likelihood of a school finance ballot measure passing jumps to 30.2 percent, according to Shober’s findings.
“This suggests that charter schools do have some bearing on how voters perceive a school district’s responsiveness to active-parent demands,” concludes Shober, who notes that further research into charter schools is necessary. “Indeed, authorizing charter schools is the only variable in this analysis that a school district’s administration could directly manipulate (save the actual ballot request). In conclusion, paying attention to parent desires by permitting school choice in the form of charter schools appears to be a boon to school districts seeking additional funding.”
Nearly 30,000 students attend charter schools in North Carolina. State law requires that no more than 100 charter schools operate in the state at one time. Although bills that would lift the cap have been introduced in the General Assembly for the past several years, none have been approved.
“School choice needs to be expanded in North Carolina, beginning with lifting the cap on charter schools,” said John Rustin, vice president and director of government relations for the North Carolina Family Policy Council. “This study shows that when parents are provided with a broad range of educational options for their children, everyone winsincluding school districts.”
Copyright © 2008. North Carolina Family Policy Council. All rights reserved.