August 29, 2012
From Jed Wallace, President and CEO, California Charter Schools Association
In response to Howard Blume's article "Charters Draw Students From Private Schools, Study Finds", it is simply absurd to suggest that the state's charter schools are "placing an ever-greater burden on taxpayers, who must fund an already strained public education system".
The fact is parents (who the report's author seems to forget are the very taxpayers they purport to be worried about) are choosing the best educational opportunity for their children. Twenty years ago, that choice was between a traditional public school and a private school. Today thanks to the efforts of parents, teachers and community leaders across this state, parents have another choice - charter public schools. Further, to suggest that all students that come from private schools are "of means" is frankly out of touch. Many families make financial sacrifices to ensure their kids are getting the best education possible which for some has meant private school. Rather than assigning blame for this trend of students returning to the public school system, we should be celebrating that charter schools are helping restore confidence in the public school system.
As is widely recognized, charter schools receive less funding per pupil than traditional public schools. And, by and large, charter schools operate in facilities that have not been provided by the state. Were it not for the existence of the charter school movement, the taxpayers of California would have had to contribute far more funding to public schools over the last twenty years - billions more than any amount cited in the Cato study.
We believe the California charter school movement has offered a great value proposition to the taxpayers of California: fewer funds invested in public education than would have happened had all of our students stayed within the traditional public system, and results in terms of academic achievement and parent satisfaction far beyond what the traditional system would have been able to generate. This demonstrates that the charter school movement is generating a great return on investment for California taxpayers, one that we hope the entire public education system will one day be able to achieve.
As parents and taxpayers, we should all be demanding that the state's public education system be designed and prepared to serve all of the state's children with high quality educational options, regardless of family means. And all families should be able to access public schools, including charters, without being told that they are draining the very system they are helping to sustain.