NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


December 29, 2006

School funding should follow each child to the school of their parents' choice, forcing schools to compete for students -- and money, say the authors of a report by the Reason Foundation

A school funding plan based on the weighted-student formula -- which gives schools more money for taking students with special needs or limited English proficiency -- would be the optimal solution, say the authors.  Similar plans have already worked in some areas:

  • San Francisco is in its sixth year of a weighted student formula and school choice and is the highest performing urban district in the state, dramatically better than Los Angeles.
  • With parents choosing the best schools for their kids, San Francisco closed five schools because of low-enrollment in 2005.
  • Buoyed by San Francisco's success, Oakland has shifted to the weighted-student formula as well.

The authors also call for opportunity scholarships that would allow low-income students in failing schools to attend private or charter schools, and streamline the process parents must navigate in order to get their kids out of failing schools.

Further, for school districts where large numbers of schools are failing, districts should ask private or nonprofit organizations to takeover the failing schools, which has worked before:

  • In 2002, Philadelphia handed over 45 of its worst performing schools local universities, nonprofits, and for-profit companies.
  • Many of these schools have shown increased test scores and Philadelphia has even been able to significantly boost test scores in schools the city is still running by implementing innovative benchmarking systems similar to the privately run schools.

Source: Lisa Snell, "How to Get Our Kids Out of Failing California Schools," Reason Foundation, December 2006.

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