And an analysis of New York City Public Schools: “Doing Less With More”

I didn’t write the following, but I wanted to be sure people got a chance to read about this study. Thanks to Robert Bligh for bringing it to my attention.  Here goes:


Doing Less With More?

Taking a Second Look at New York City Charter Schools

National Education Policy Center – Boulder, CO – Jan. 27, 2011

New study finds NYC charters benefiting from resources but not producing better student test scores than traditional public schools.

Advocates for charter schools have pointed to New York City as an exemplar of how charters can show better results than traditional public schools. Charter advocates have also stated that these schools are able to do more with lesser amounts of funding.

But both of these claims are not correct, according to a new study that closely examines funding and charter school students. “Adding Up the Spending: Fiscal Disparities and Philanthropy among New York City Charter Schools”, a study by Rutgers University professor Bruce Baker and doctoral student Richard Ferris, was published today by the National Education Policy Center (NEPC) at the University of Colorado at Boulder. The study points out that any meaningful understanding of public resources for New York City charters is highly dependent on three factors:

• Does the charter serve students with greater or lesser needs? The City’s charters disproportionately serve lower percentages of poor and English-learner students, who require more resources.

• Are the schools (charter and traditional public) that are compared serving the same grade levels? Charters overwhelmingly serve elementary aged students, and traditional public schools serving those same grades typically have fewer resources than schools serving upper grades.

• Does the Board of Education provide a facility? About half of the City’s charters are given a public facility. Once the first two factors are considered, the study finds that charter schools not housed in Board of Education facilities receive $517 less in public funding than do non-charters. However, charter schools housed in BOE facilities receive significantly more resources ($2,200 on average more per pupil). But that’s not the end of the story.The authors ask one additional question: Does the charter receive substantial resources from private donors? They examine audited annual financial reports and IRS tax filings and they discover that the best-endowed charters in the City receive additional resources amounting annually to more than$10,000 per pupil in private funding.

According to lead researcher Bruce Baker, “Finding little truth to the test score claims or the spending claims does not, and should not, end discussions of what we can learn from these New   charter schools, but it does point to the hypocrisy and emptiness of arguments by charter advocates that additional resources would do little to help traditional public schools.Such arguments are particularly troubling in NYC where high-spending charters far outspend nearby traditional public schools. Equitable and adequate resources do matter, but there appear to be a considerable number of charters schools in NYC doing less with more.”

Find “Adding Up the Spending: Fiscal Disparities and Philanthropy among New York City Charter Schools” by Bruce Baker and Richard Ferris on the web at:

The mission of the National Education Policy Center is to produce and disseminate high-quality, peer reviewed research to inform education policy discussions. We are guided by the belief that the democratic governance of public education is strengthened when policies are based on sound evidence.

For more information on NEPC, please visit

This research brief was made possible in part by the support of the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.

CONTACT: Bruce Baker or William Mathis 732-932-7496 ext. 8232  or 802-383-0058


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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. Guy –

    I’ve hoped the group at Stanford would follow up their charter study that found Charters were twice as likely to underperform tradtional Public Schools as out perform with an income overlay. It might tell us “what does it take to do a good job educating our kids.” Especially in a high challenge school district like DC. I’m not sure the people funding ed reform want to know.




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