Charter schools offer high return on investment, study claims

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  • squirt Taylorsville, ut
    Aug. 9, 2014 6:31 a.m.

    Carolyn I would respectfully ask as a tax payer for you to disclose the amount of money which you are receiving as an administrator of multiple charter schools. I find it interesting that your compensation is not available on any website. Could you please put this to rest and reveal your compensation package please? Thank you from a concerned tax payer.

  • Howard Beal Provo, UT
    Aug. 6, 2014 11:27 p.m.


    I sincerely appreciate your concern. However, my son ended up going to a public school elementary where he did well. My daughter also did just fine at the charter, I have no complaints about her education there. My only point was that there was a selection process. We could have got our son in the charter in the second year my daughter attended but since he had a great experience at his public school, we continued there. I also had my daughter and son in a private school, again daughter did well and the school loved her, we were asked to take son out of same private school in about three weeks. So much for the wonders of private education. If you fit in the box, it's great.

    So my point is this, only public schools have to accept all their students. Yes, you throw out some data but as long as charters have lotteries or selection process, this means they are not open to all.

  • What in Tucket? Provo, UT
    Aug. 6, 2014 9:15 a.m.

    Seems to me if you send your child to a charter school you are serious about them having a good education. If they do not do well in the charter school you will take them out and send them elsewhere.

    Aug. 4, 2014 10:24 p.m.

    “We have very close to the same percentage of special needs kids at our schools as do the public schools that surround us”

    Respectfully—that statement really needs some differentiation. As you are aware, there are several classifications for special needs students. What is the number of severe/profound students that are served by your schools? That is where the funding issue is a real data changer.

    For example, at my traditional public school, we have two separate programs serving 22 wonderful students who are classified as severe/profound. We have two full and four part time teachers and four full time aides for those programs. Last year, three of the students required their own full time aide. These two programs are amazing but are extremely expensive. Yes, federal funding of about 21% helps, but the rest comes from regular sources.

    “Charter schools are not allowed to turn any student away because of a disability. I don't know any that do.”

    The four charter schools surrounding my school have special education programs for students who are classified as mild/moderate only. They are not spending the huge amounts of money to provide an education for those who require the most funding.

  • Fred44 Salt Lake City, Utah
    Aug. 4, 2014 2:26 p.m.

    Redshirt 1701

    You are 33% correct. The correct part charter schools do have parents that are more involved in their children's education. You are incorrect in your assertion that charter schools score better than traditional public schools, and you are incorrect in your assertion that charter schools have more special needs students than do neighborhood schools. Yes charter schools specific to special needs such as autism have more special needs students. But a regular charter school, no not true.

    Carolyn so am I to understand that ALL charter schools must take ALL special needs students regardless of the disability and the amount of care that individual student may require? Am I to understand that by law they must provide the exact same services to those children that a traditional public school must provide? There are individual students in my school that require a multiple adults full time for individual children, as well as specialists that come in and provide these students services. Those same laws are in place for charter schools?

  • Redshirt1701 Deep Space 9, Ut
    Aug. 4, 2014 11:56 a.m.

    To "Monsieur le prof" you are wrong, at least about the charter schools in Utah. I have seen the families that send their kids to charter schools, and they are not just rich parents. The schools have lotteries, so they cannot pick and choose the families that go there without violating state law and losing their charter.

    What I have seen at the charter schools is that they attract the parents that care about their child's education, regardless of income level. That is a large reason why they do better. In the charter schools I have visited, they have more special needs kids there because the parents care and don't want their kids treated well.

  • McTaylor orem, UT
    Aug. 4, 2014 11:13 a.m.

    @bill in af
    I just wanted to point out that you said charters can be selective on who gets in. Other than Indiana, Iowa, Colorado, Wyoming and Wisconsin, all other states (Utah included) have laws that require charters to admit students based on a lottery system. All who apply have an equal chance. These were setup so that charter's couldn't be selective.

  • Carolyn Sharette Sandy, UT
    Aug. 4, 2014 12:13 a.m.

    Howard I am not sure what you mean about the lotteries. If we select out 25 students via a lottery for the seats we have open, because a lottery is by definition random, over time our numbers of special needs students should be pretty close to the public schools around us. We have found this to be the case in actuality. We have very close to the same percentage of special needs kids at our schools as do the public schools that surround us (which you would expect using a random drawing for admission). A lottery does not create an exclusionary school - in fact, it prevents them.

    You have implied many times on these boards that your daughter's charter purposely did not accept your son. If you believed that to be true, you could have called the USOE and they would have done an investigation and if they found a charter was doing that, they would require them to enroll the student.

    Charter schools are not allowed to turn any student away because of a disability. I don't know any that do. If a parent believes this has happened, they should contact the USOE.

  • Howard Beal Provo, UT
    Aug. 3, 2014 10:39 p.m.


    Charters have lotteries. My daughter won the lottery, my son did not. My son had special needs so I hope that was not part of that equation. But even if it wasn't a factor, a lottery is a lottery. Public schools have to accept ALL students in their boundaries. Charters, because of these lotteries, are exclusionary. With that said, everything you say Carolyn must be taken with a grain of salt.

  • There You Go Again Saint George, UT
    Aug. 3, 2014 7:30 p.m.

    Verbatim quote from the study:

    This work was made possible by a research grant from
    the Walton Family Foundation. We thank them for
    their support and acknowledge that the content of
    the report is entirely the responsibility of the research
    team and does not necessarily reflect the positions of
    the Foundation or the University of Arkansas.

    Does not necessarily reflect the positions of the Foundation?

    The Walton Family Foundation supports Charter Schools.

    The study promotes Charter Schools.

    How is my comment off topic or disruptive?

  • Steve Cottrell Centerville, UT
    Aug. 3, 2014 5:38 p.m.

    Public schools in Utah are a great bargain. We get average or above average results with just over half the average investment per student. That must be one of the most cost effective systems in the country.

  • UGradBYUfan Gilbert, AZ
    Aug. 3, 2014 2:23 p.m.

    By the way, I don't have a problem with Charter schools. I believe they play an important role in our society today, I don't want to do away with charter schools or private schools. But there are a number of individuals that have political and financial power, that do want to do away with public education, even if they don't actually say it on the record. The scary thing to me, is that they continually promote charter and private schools over regular public schools, and they continually promote bills that would spend public monies for private schools, even though the public has consistently voted them down.

  • UGradBYUfan Gilbert, AZ
    Aug. 3, 2014 1:30 p.m.

    The problem I have with articles like this, is that the headline and 1st three paragraphs (the part of the article that is usually read by most people), they don't really inform the reader of the balancing views, such as that this "research article" was not peer reviewed, nor that the research was funded by the Walton Family foundation, which is a big financial supporter of charter school start-up.

    When it is said that the article is not peer-reviewed, that means that no one other than the publisher (read: Walton Family Foundation supporter of charter schools) is checking their methods of accounting for their comparison between regular public schools and charter public school, as is alluded to in the article as follows, "Nonetheless, the authors argue, this new study does control for both student poverty levels and special education enrollment, removing both from the equations."

    The big question of whether the study actually does completely control for both variables, is not addressed in the article. This is lazy journalism and it could be suggested that this article is really just a charter school advertisement.

  • UGradBYUfan Snowflake, AZ
    Aug. 3, 2014 12:53 p.m.

    @Carolyn Sharette
    Yes, it is true that charter schools are required to meet the special education needs of the students that are in their school. But with that said, I have worked at charter schools and they are not required to take students with special needs that are beyond the ability of the schools to meet.

    I worked in a charter school in Utah that was designed to develop students interest in biotechnology. When parents of children with moderate to severe autism, the counselors and principal simply told the parents that they could not accommodate their specific disabilities and they were turned away.

    Charter schools are not required to take students with special needs. Schools that are a part of the public school system, as opposed to the Public charter schools of choice, ARE required to take ALL students that live within the boundaries of their geographic area, as defined by the state and the district.

    The difference between regular public schools and charter public schools is mainly one of choice. So my question is...if public schools are done away with, as many libertarians and right-winged republicans would like, what will happen to those that have special needs?

  • 1Observer Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Aug. 3, 2014 8:39 a.m.

    It should be noted that chartered public schools in Utah cannot select students. They, like other public schools must take all comers. As for demographics of charter students - they are not all white, rich kids. Go into any charter school in West Valley. Go into any charter school in New Orleans. The NO public school system was decimated by Katrina. Most of the damage was in the 9th Ward which remains a very poor area in NO. Charter schools were started because they could get up and running faster and they have done such a good job with challenging students that there has been no rush to rebuild the traditional public school system. That is why nearly half the students are in charter schools in the New Orleans area. Contrary to many commenters here, poor people care about their kids and want a better life for them. They get involved in their kids lives and they get involved in their charter schools. Parents feel welcome and invited to participate in charter schools and people listen to them. Try to talk to your district school board. You will get two minutes at the begninng of a meeting and then summarily ignored.

  • Carolyn Sharette Sandy, UT
    Aug. 3, 2014 2:09 a.m.

    Charter schools do take federal monies, and they are required to provide for special needs students. They are not exempt from any of the requirement regarding special education. Charter schools receive federal money for special education, and federal money for at-risk children through Title 1. We also receive federal funds for English language acquisition if we have a high population of ESL students.

  • Kings Court Alpine, UT
    Aug. 2, 2014 2:06 p.m.

    I've done research on this matter as well. Charters do get more money than people realize (at least in Utah), especially at start-up and now with property tax revenue sharing with local school districts (according the White Report). In Utah charters were shown to not be on par with traditional public schools with 2 of 5 charters performing worse, 2 of 5 performing on par, and only 1 of 5 performing better (2 of 5 public schools perform better than charters). Services offered need to also be considered. Charters may provide more bang for the buck for your most basic education, but if the public expects more choices offered to students such as sports programs, class offerings, special ed. support, hot school lunches, etc, then the prices rise considerably and is why public schools require more money. Charters tend to offer more of your basic services because they cannot take federal dollars. For instance, they aren't required to provide resource support to students because that is federally mandated if you take federal money. Like I always say, the Devil is in the details and this article really didn't get down to the nitty gritty.

  • bill in af American Fork, UT
    Aug. 2, 2014 1:23 p.m.

    I am OK with school choice, but let's tell the whole story. If public neighborhood schools were allowed to be as selective as charters as far as who gets in, limit class size to reasonable numbers, and demand parent involvement, you would naturally see even better results than what public schools remarkably do now. Public neighborhood schools accept all students of all ability levels and provide an excellent education regardless of what kind of support they have at home. That is a pretty high return for society as a whole.

  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    Aug. 2, 2014 12:21 p.m.

    Public schools have been spared the realities of economics for too long and studies like this are a welcome addition in the fact & evidence based effort to reform our education system.

    That both the Gates Foundation and the Obama Administration are generally supportive of reform efforts should tell us everything we need to know about this glaringly obvious problem, something that both France and Sweden (hardly hotbeds of right-wing ideology) figured out more than a decade ago (i.e., they both have voucher systems).

    And I'm sorry, but it is insane to spend three times as much (or more) per pupil on special needs kids than on everyone else. There are tradeoffs to every economic decision in life and faced with this reality other kids (especially low income high achievers) are being short changed.

  • tabuno Clearfield, UT
    Aug. 2, 2014 11:21 a.m.

    Sociological studies and test effectiveness are very complex and involve many variables that are easy to manipulate. Until more research is conducted it is way too early to allow just one study to be a basis for any drastic policy changes. Statistics can be a very sticky thing. It will take years to establish and confirm the validity of any simple statements regarding Charter Schools. In the meantime, students and parents will just have to make their own informed decisions on less than reliable information.

  • Hamath Omaha, NE
    Aug. 2, 2014 10:46 a.m.

    This study fails to account for parent initiative. The study says it controls for social economic issues, but it takes a specially motivated poor parent to jump through all the hoops to get their students in a charter school. In some locations, it takes years to get into one of the elite charters. You fail then to compare apples and oranges.

    Poor parent A who is actually goes through the hoops to get their student in a charter school is a much more engaged parent than poor parent B who doesn't go through the hoops.

    Parent A likely interacts with their child and has different standards at home than parent B. This study could very well be measuring the impact of engaged parents more than anything.

  • Monsieur le prof Sandy, UT
    Aug. 2, 2014 10:37 a.m.

    I think we are comparing oranges to apples here. Charter schools benefit from the same characteristic that private schools do, involved (and usually wealthier and more educated) parents who care about their child's education. Studies show that students from the same socio-economic environment will succeed equally well in any kind of school, be it public, private, or charter.

    Public schools are required to accept every child that applies, regardless of his or her culture, legal status or ability, because we believe in universal education. Because of this, public school teachers face large classes with a wide spectrum and variety of kids. It's difficult to customize an educational plan for each individual student. That's why parents are so incredibly important.

    On the other hand, students benefit from this wide variety of kids and cultures and develop social and coping skills that will benefit them throughout the rest of their lives. Strangely enough, some studies show that if public schools were allowed to force (gasp!) their students to wear uniforms (as private and some charter schools do), their scores would rise significantly and violence and bullying would drop.

  • Brio Alpine, UT
    Aug. 2, 2014 10:27 a.m.

    Almost every study shows a similar conclusion... that charter schools give substantially more bank for the buck and with its students learn much more quickly... especially compared to inner city public schools.

    It's both sad and pathetic that the Obama administration is still denying the reality of the situation and fighting against charter schools and allowing student vouchers.

    There is no longer any doubt that Obama is putting his allegiance to teachers unions ahead of the best interest of students. That's the one of the evils of accepting campaign funds from special interest groups.