by Meredith Machen
New Mexico’s League has become alarmed at the shift in funding from traditional public schools to charters. Too much charter funding is misused according to the National Education Policy Center.
Please see the chart below from the New Mexico Legislative Finance Committee which shows that from FY08 to FY15 charter schools received 46 percent of the change in funding while educating only 6.6% percent of all students. Over the last 7 years there has been a steady increase in funding for public education. School districts received about $114 million in additional funding while charter schools received about $98 million.
|Table xx: Change in Funding from FY08 to FY15 for Charter Schools and School Districts|
|FY08 Funding||FY15 Funding||Number of Students, FY15||Change Funding|
For the larger context, please see the report from the National Policy Education Center below.
The Business of Charter Schooling: Understanding the Policies that Charter Operators Use for Financial Benefit
Four major policy concerns are identified in the report:
- A substantial share of public expenditure intended for the delivery of direct educational services to children is being extracted inadvertently or intentionally for personal or business financial gain, creating substantial inefficiencies;
- Public assets are being unnecessarily transferred to private hands, at public expense, risking the future provision of “public” education;
- Charter school operators are growing highly endogenous, self-serving private entities built on funds derived from lucrative management fees and rent extraction which further compromise the future provision of “public” education; and
- Current disclosure requirements make it unlikely that any related legal violations, ethical concerns, or merely bad policies and practices are not realized until clever investigative reporting, whistleblowers or litigation brings them to light.
Recommendations to address these concerns are listed in the NEPC report. Charters should be public in more than name only. They financial data should be transparent, their facilities should be publically owned, oversight should be improved to include major contracts between EMOs and charters. More attention must be paid to open meetings, independence of boards and other agents involved in the charter schools, and funding oversight based on tracking the movement of students from school to school or for students with special needs must be improved to reduce gaming incentives.