Charter Schools a Valuable Investment for Taxpayers

Charters prove more cost effective and produce larger ROI

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Holly Wetzel
Marketing and Communications Associate

MIDLAND — According to a study published today by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, charter schools are saving taxpayer dollars while producing student outcomes that are meeting or outpacing other traditional public schools across the state.

In Doing More With Less: The Charter School Advantage in Michigan, co-authors Corey DeAngelis, a policy analyst at the Cato Center for Educational Freedom, and Ben DeGrow, director of education policy at the Mackinac Center, examine taxpayer investment in Michigan charter schools across 71 cities, as well as the funding inequities between charter schools and traditional public school across 92 cities. Their analysis also controlled against varying student demographics that could impact the results.

DeAngelis and DeGrow’s research found that traditional public schools receive an average of $2,782 — or 20 percent — more per pupil than Michigan charter schools. Yet, charter schools are generally equaling or exceeding traditional public school performance. For every $1 of taxpayer investment, charter schools produce an estimated $10.01 in lifetime earnings for students, compared to $7.38 for district-run schools — a 36 percent higher return on investment for taxpayers.

DeAngelis and DeGrow also measured the cost effectiveness of charter schools compared to their neighboring conventional schools. Measuring student achievement per $1,000 spent, they found that charter schools are 32 percent more cost effective than traditional public schools. These findings hold even after adjusting for variables related to student demographics, such as socioeconomic status, special education needs, race and gender.

“Based on our findings, charter schools provide more bang for taxpayer bucks in Michigan and prove that, despite the unequal playing field, student achievement can flourish outside the traditional public system,” said Mackinac Center’s Ben DeGrow.

Read the full study here.

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