Choice, Changes, And Money Following Kids (And Success)

I was at a D.C. school this morning that I’d been meaning to check out for a while and in conversations with them a school transfer issue came up that you hear a lot about in schools, but less so  in the chattering about schools. The common assumption – repeated in the media – is that kids are transferring from charter schools back to traditional public schools creating a problem for the latter and a benefit for the former because school funding is based on a one-time count in the fall (so if a kid is counted end of September and leaves in November the school still retains the funding). There is some truth to this – and it’s long past due to modernize student funding so that money follows kids, and follows success, in a more real-time way.  But, as parents get more choice in places like D.C., where options are increasingly prevalent, they are moving kids between all different kinds of schools at different  points in the year. In other words, some charters are impacted by this as well (those that accept various kinds of transfers as many do).  When you add in online schools and other non-traditional models (where there are both genuine friction points and also some abuse) it’s clear just how archaic the standard practices for counting kids and allocating resources are. Even accounting for the predictability of funding that is necessary to smooth school operations this is low-hanging fruit for policymakers to fix so that dollars flow to where kids actually are and schools are rewarded for success, not just who shows up at a key time of year.

2 Replies to “Choice, Changes, And Money Following Kids (And Success)”

  1. Andy, Massachusetts already has this solved. A charter is paid on enrollment to the day. Ie, if a student is enrolled for 75 days and leaves, the school ultimately gets 75/180 times the per pupil allocation.

    Of course, to your first point, this reality doesn’t actually change the anti-charter folks. They just go to a different argument.

    Charters won’t serve black kids. Oh wait, they do? Charters over-serve black kids — they segregate! And so it goes.

  2. This entire formula is asinine.

    “There is some truth to this – and it’s long past due to modernize student funding so that money follows kids, and follows success, in a more real-time way”.

    No. If money follows success, the only thing that will happen is that we will turn the clock of racial and economic equity back about fifty years. Eat your Jim Crow. Charter do segregate. If you don’t want to believe that, fine. Get back to me when you see test scores rise across the minority charter educational landscape.

    And anyway, this whole charter thing is a well-dressed fraud. There is no coherent theory which explicates the essential causal links between charter school format and student success. Freedom in and of itself is not a valid reason.

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