Wednesday | May 9, 2018

There is vital economic dimension to the American promise of a free, quality pubic education for all of its youth. In its simplest aspect, government needs to provide adequate funding to public schools. As the recent wave of teacher strikes and protests in West Virginia, Oklahoma and Arizona have highlighted, many states are far from meeting that basic obligation. A more complex, but no less, important economic aspect is how government funds are distributed and used. The growth of charter schools, and the resultant diversion of public funds from public district schools to charter schools, had added a new element in the distribution and use of public funds, raising a series of questions. To what extent do charter schools, especially in large numbers, destabilize the economies of public district schools by disrupting economies of scales? To what extent do charter schools create inefficiencies and redundancies in the provision of public education? To what extent do charter schools serve fewer high needs students – students with special needs, English Language Learners, students living in poverty – for whom a quality education is more costly, leading to an inequitable distribution of resources? And to the extent that these problems of funding exist, what should be done to correct them? From a variety of perspectives and grounded in studies in different states, our panel addressed these questions.


David Arsen, Professor of Education Policy and Educational Administration; Coordinator, Education Policy Unit, College of Education, Michigan State University

Bruce Baker, Professor, Rutgers University Graduate School of Education

Alice Huffman, President, California Hawaii NAACP

Randall Reback, Professor of Economics, Barnard College, Columbia University; Associate Editor, Education Finance & Policy

Moderator: Burnie Bond, Director of Programs, Albert Shanker Institute.