What’s the Potential Impact of Federal Funding Bills on Charter School Funding?

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University of Arkansas building

Researchers from the University of Arkansas released a new study looking at what charter school students stood to lose should the U.S. House of Representative’s education funding bill pass. In the 18 cities examined, charter school students would lose an average of $1,131 per-pupil in school resources. The bill could eliminate all federal funding to charter schools contract with private companies to deliver services to their students, such as food, transportation, or curriculum.

In the study, University of Arkansas researchers also used their 18-city simulation to debunk common myths surrounding charter schools that may have led to the introduction of this and other anti-charter legislation.

The report debunks three major myths:

Myth: Charter Funding is Equitable.

Fact: Charter schools in the 18 cities examined are systematically underfunded relative to district schools and funding gaps are unrelated to the proportion of low-income students they serve.

Myth: Charter Schools Turn Taxpayer Dollars into Private Sector Profits.

Fact: Charter schools are public schools that dedicate a higher proportion of their funds to student instruction than district schools do.

Myth: Charter Schools Receive More Non-Public Funding than District Schools.

Fact: In many cities and in many years examined in the study, charter schools receive less non-public funding per-pupil than district schools and rely almost exclusively on funding from public sources.

The report concludes with two major policy recommendations that we can get behind:

  1. Policymakers should avoid initiatives that would reduce funding for low-income students in public charter schools.
  2.  Public school funding laws should be overhauled so that dollars are tied to what students need and not based on the type of public school they attend.

Read the full report and sign up to receive our advocacy alerts to hear the latest about what’s happening in Congress.


Drew Jacobs is the senior director of research, policy, and evaluation at the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.