Our analysis indicates that students across the state of Michigan receive substantially less funding simply for opting out of their residentially assigned traditional public school to attend a charter school. On average, Michigan students get $2,782 less public funding on their behalf annually when they opt to attend a public charter school. Yet, we find that charters across the state are more cost effective than TPS and produce a greater return on investment for taxpayers. In particular, children in charters gain substantially more academic output for each $1,000 invested in them than those in TPS, and charter schools produce 36 percent higher return on investment for each tax dollar spent.
This analysis does not definitively demonstrate that charters would maintain a large productivity advantage with additional dollars collected and spent. However, if public charter school funding equity improves, it seems likely that the state of Michigan would experience enhanced long-term outcomes for children considering that charters schools are more cost effective and deliver a higher return on investment compared to their TPS peers.