The cost of public education is largely ignored by both the media and education policymakers. Many people think it is awkward, complicated or destroys the intrinsic and infinite worth of public education to inject hard-nosed considerations of efficiency into America’s schools. Then came 2012, the first school year in history in which total U.S. government spending on public education went down. Suddenly, money has to matter in public education, because apparently there isn’t an endless supply of it.
(Emphasis mine.) To be sure, budgeting is all about choices. Education budgeting should be no different.
Wolf writes about a University of Arkansas study, “The Productivity of Public Charter Schools“:
The report is the first national study of the efficiency of charter schools relative to traditional public schools, and to tie funding to student achievement. Across all 28 states in our study we found that public charter school sectors were more cost effective and/or generated a higher return on investment (ROI) than traditional public schools. Public charter schools are like the Oakland A’s of public education.
. . . what is behind the Money-Ed success of public charter schools? Mathematically, the answer is simple. Charters nationally are producing student achievement gains that are very similar to the levels in traditional public schools but receive about 30 percent less money per pupil. Similar results at a lower cost explain the advantage for charters.
(Washington is not included in the study; our charter school system was only approved by voters in 2012.)