But it's total crap.
An analysis of the State Education Department's ST-3 reports** for five upstate cities found that after removing charter school enrollment funding, service costs, and related federal funding, the district's non-charter related spending CONTINUED TO INCREASE even as charter schools opened and expanded. (The phenomenon matches what NYC's Education Priorities Panel found earlier this year.)
"Contrary to conventional wisdom, the actual numbers reveal that the presence of charter schools had no genuine impact on school district resources," NYCSA President Bill Phillips told legislators in a memo accompanying the report. The analysis looked at spending in Albany, Buffalo, Rochester, Troy and Schenectady.
The memo and analysis can be found here. Key points:
-- Despite declining enrollments in most spots, total non-charter school spending continued to increase. For instance, since the first charter opened, Albany School District non-charter spending increased by 31% and enrollment decreased by 5%. Since the first charter opened in Buffalo, non-charter spending has increased by 8% and enrollment decreased by 13%.
-- The combination of spending increases and enrollment decreases means per pupil spending INCREASES for students remaining in district-run schools. During the existence of charter schools, the non-charter per-pupil spending has increased by 37 percent for Albany and 25 percent for Buffalo.
-- In cases of a non-charter school related enrollment increase or spending decrease, the presence of the charter school mitigates the district's decline in per pupil spending. In other words, without the presence of a charter school, the district would have suffered a greater drop in per pupil spending.
Now, there obviously are other debates to be had on issues like (1) Why do so many school boards and superintendents believe that money to fund public charter schools is THEIRs in the first place? (2) Whether it is even good public policy to reward districts that lose students with EVEN MORE money, creating such a perverse disincentive for districts regarding improvement.
But one reason we can't even have those kinds of important discussions is the blob has managed to convince everyone they are going broke just because some kids want to attend a better public charter school. It's a whole lot easier to blame charter schools than it is to deal with some of the ominous clouds hanging over all public school districts - whether their families are lucky enough to have charter schools or not.
** The analysis, conducted by the New York Charter Schools Association, was sent to every member of the Legislature earlier this month.
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