Panel: Exploring the Broader Impacts of Charter Schools: Racial Segregation, Fiscal Externalities, and Efficiency

Thursday, November 2, 2017: 10:15 AM-11:45 AM
Horner (Hyatt Regency Chicago)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Panel Organizers:  Helen Ladd, Duke University
Panel Chairs:  Robert Bifulco, Syracuse University
Discussants:  Ron Zimmer, University of Kentucky and Robert Bifulco, Syracuse University

Choosing Charter Schools in North Carolina: What Do Parents Value?
Helen Ladd1, Charles Clotfelter1, Steven W. Hemelt2 and Mavzuna Turaeva1, (1)Duke University, (2)University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Comparing the Allocative and Productive Effeciciency of New Orleans Charter Schools and Traditional Public Schools in Louisiana
Christian Buerger, Tulane University and Ian Wright, University of Massachusetts, Boston

The Fiscal Externalities of Charter Schools: Evidence from North Carolina
John Singleton, University of Rochester and Helen Ladd, Duke University

Much of the detailed empirical work on charter schools has focused on how they affect the achievement and graduation rates of the students who enroll in them. As is well known, however, charter schools have the potential to have broader effects, both positive and negative, on local school systems. This session explores some of those broader effects using a variety of administrative and other sources of data.

For charters to promote higher system-wide achievement, a starting point is that charter school choosers must value achievement over and above some of the other factors that influence their choices including, for example, the racial mix of the students in the charter. One of the papers uses a revealed preference approach to determine what different groups of charter school choosers in North Carolina value.   By looking separately at the choices made by subgroups defined by their race and income, the authors shed new light on the forces that lead to the observed patterns of racial isolation in North Carolina’s charter schools, and the policy options that might counter some of those forces.

A second paper based on the city-wide system of charter schools in New Orleans explores the extent to which purported benefits in the form of greater school autonomy and competition are offset by factors that reduce the productivity of the overall system. Such factors include, for example, the loss of economies of scale with respect to the provision of centralized services, higher transactions costs, and negative externalities as a result of cream-skimming by some of the charter schools.  In this ambitious study, the authors compare the efficiency of the charter school sector in New Orleans with that of traditional public schools throughout Louisiana based on careful analysis of detailed expenditure data for all schools in Louisiana.  The third paper also uses detailed expenditure data, in this case, of local school districts to determine the net fiscal impacts of charter school entry on the finances of traditional districts.  A contribution of this study is its analysis of how these fiscal impacts differ across urban and rural school districts. 

For each of the three papers, the authors have constructed new data sets based on various combinations of detailed expenditure data, information gathered directly from charter school web sites, and state wide administrative data sources.

See more of: Education
See more of: Panel