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Explaining The Consistently Inconsistent Results of Charter Schools


Please bring New Orleans Public Schools into your discussion as that is a large scale effort to provide maximal choice to all parents to choose between charter and non-charter. That is one heck of a large scale experiment. Charters there have done wonders, albeit starting from a low base, serving 71% of the entire student population (up from 56% 4 years ago), based on students voting with their feet. I am particularly interested in your analysis of the results as detailed and discussed here: The issue of money is important but to discuss it you need to point out that what public school districts have done when given more money is simply hire more teachers to reduce class size rather than increase instructional time. If you conclude that public schools need more money to emulate charter schools you need to examine why the vast disparities in per pupil expenditures per state have essentially zero correlation with performance as measured by the NAEP. Class size has zero correlation with NAEP performance as well, even when broken down by race and economic status. In short, more money to traditional public schools won't matter because it will be used to hire more teachers giving unions more members, requiring more overpaid administrators, more school bonds to enrich the local contractors, but doing absolutely zero for the kids.

Thanks for your comment, Michael. I'll be discussing a few whole districts in a subsequent post. I would include New Orleans, but I can't do that without a high-quality analysis that doesn't rely on changes in cross-sectional proficiency rates. I saw that CREDO had done something for NOLA in a newspaper article, but was unable to find the full report. If you know where to find it, please post post the link. Thanks again, MD

The report sited indicates, "Combining public and private sources of revenue, KIPP received, on average, $18,491 per pupil in 2007-08. This is $6,500 more per pupil than what the local school districts received in revenue" I am curious how infrastructure is calculated into these numbers. Does the additional $6500 include expenses for building / equipment / supplies? The amount that "local school districts received in revenue" would not, and I'm curious whether this is a fair apples-to-apples comparison. The "Expenditures" section of the report does not seem to address it. It shows "total current expenditures per pupil" as being only slighter (~$457). In fact, the report simply says, "we cannot determine whether or how KIPP spends its private sources of revenues" The fact that a rather large sum of money cannot be accounted for is a remarkably huge gap in the report, especially since the report is now being used to suggest that whatever level of achievement superiority charters enjoy is due in part to this "higher revenue". Can you share any insight?

In re New Orleans - I found the press release and newspaper article but not the study. News article: I also looked here: Maybe you could contact them and get the report? Thanks for your efforts.

It's a bad idea to cite anything Gary Miron writes about KIPP, given his fallacious measure of attrition and the problems Mike Reno raises.

Mike, Thanks for the comment. The sentence to which you refer asserts that KIPP receives private funding and provides additional time. The citations in parentheses are meant to support each claim individually but not necessarily to connect them. I agree, however, that the wording does not make this completely clear. As for how KIPP and other charters spend money, this is an open question in many places (data specificity and availability vary), and I personally think this is a huge problem. But my speculation – that the few “standout” charters tend to get a lot of private money – remains. Also see this report on NYC charter funding: And these data on KIPP schools in Texas: Thanks again, MD


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