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Private school kids switching to charters

A move to public education is found to burden taxpayers

By Howard Blume
Los Angeles Times


Charter schools are pulling in so many onetime private school students that they are placing an ever-greater burden on taxpayers, who must fund an already strained public education system, according to research released Tuesday.

The study by a Rand Corp. economist found that more than 190,000 students nationwide had left a private school for a charter by the end of the 2008 school year, the most recent year for which data were available.

And charter schools have exploded in number since that time. The Los Angeles Unified School District has more charters, 193, than any system in the country.

This student migration is especially apparent in large urban areas, where charters are drawing 32 percent of their elementary grade enrollment from private schools, study author Richard Buddin said. The percentage for middle schools is 23 percent, and 15 percent for high schools.

Charters are free, independently managed public schools that are exempt from some rules governing traditional schools. Most are not unionized.

About 10 percent of students nationwide attend private schools — a number that is dropping.

Between 2000 and 2010, for example, the number of students enrolled in Catholic schools declined by 20 percent, according to church educators. In the final five years covered by Buddin's study, which looked at data from 2000 through June 2008, more than one-fourth of the students who left Catholic schools enrolled in nearby charters.

The transfer of students from private schools to charters has increased public-funding obligations by $1.8 billion, said analyst Adam B. Schaeffer of the libertarian Cato Institute's Center for Educational Freedom. Cato paid for the study.

"On average, charter schools may marginally improve the public education system. But in the process they are wreaking havoc on private education … driving some schools entirely out of business," Schaeffer said.

"For too long, charters have been seen as all positive," he added. "This report highlights that there are trade-offs."

Buddin, who is not affiliated with Cato, was circumspect in interpreting the numbers. He posited, for example, that an influx of politically sophisticated private school families might generate support for increased public school funding.

The study's findings were no surprise to Los Angeles Unified school board member Steve Zimmer.

"Parents of means have always had choice when it comes to schools," he said. "The difference is that with the charter movement, they don't have to pay for it."

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allie wrote:
SA needs to place this story in a local context. Is this happening in Hawaii? I doubt it as most charters here are not effective or high quality
on August 29,2012 | 06:27AM
Wazdat wrote:
HELLO, this is a story from the LA times. Does not INCLUDE hawaii.
on August 29,2012 | 07:25AM
allie wrote:
duh..so why not add to the story and tell us if this trend is matched here. Why or why not? That is what a good news outlet does.
on August 29,2012 | 10:26AM
WesleySMori wrote:
Touche "ALLIE"!! "TOUCHE"!!!!!!! "GOD BLESS HAWAII & AMERICA"!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
on August 29,2012 | 06:30PM
allie wrote:
Hugs her wesley!
on August 30,2012 | 01:29PM
wiliki wrote:
Don't think that is happening here. Parents put their kids in private schools mostly for two reasons: 1) they have a smart kid and want him/her to exercise their best potential, and 2) they themselves attended the private school.
on August 29,2012 | 08:04AM
false wrote:
In Hawaii charters are private public entities choosing their own students, staff and curriculum. That being said some do well and others don't on the HSA because their curriculum may not be in line with state standards. They can choose. Having "zero tolerance" policy means staff and students can get "walking papers" any time which lets them go back into the state system or back to private. Requiring parent volunteerism also teaches the "language of school" which includes expected support and behavior. The state can't go total charter because some school has to exist to pick up the student who doesn't fit the charter criteria. Charters are as elite in entrance requirements as any private school. It doesn't meet the needs of the reality of student talent.
on August 31,2012 | 05:39AM
tutunona wrote:
Let's do a fair study of our Charter School..........has to be better than the public schools, admittedly some students do really well but the majority leaves a lot to be desired........private schools are wonderful if you can afford them.......as I understand it Charter Schools here are unique in their teaching...........
on August 31,2012 | 08:52AM
randics wrote:
A very strange spin on this story. People send their kids to private school in hopes of a better educational outcome - they care enough about their kids future to pay twice: once in their taxes to pay for the education of everyone else's kids and then again to get a better education for their kids. Putting their kids into a charter schools puts the burden where it belongs: onto the DOE who is supported by their tax dollars. Yes it is tough on the private schools, but if the public education system did a decent job - especially in Hawaii - there wouldn't be a need for the private or the charter schools.
on September 2,2012 | 08:21AM
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