Making Charter Schools Work in Alabama
February 2, 2015
While charter schools are growing in popularity, 21 states place caps on the number of charters that can operate within their borders. Additionally, there are eight states without any charter schools -- one of those states is Alabama. John Hill, senior research analyst with the Alabama Policy Institute, has authored a new report advocating for school choice in the state.
Many have opposed charter schools in Alabama by claiming that charters would take funding away from the public school system, but Hill says that's not a valid concern:
- Charter schools are still public schools, so funding that follows a student will remain within the state's education system. Children already transfer to and from schools within their districts, and those transfers do not deplete the system of resources.
- Reduced funding should be of little concern anyway, as there is no link between additional school funding and student academic achievement. Hill notes that seven of the nine states that spend less on education than Alabama have higher National Assessment of Education Progress scores (NAEP tests students in grades four, eight and 12) than Alabama for fourth grade math, while eight have higher scores on eighth grade reading and all nine have higher scores for eighth grade math.
Charter schools have also struggled with adequate funding (in general, they receive 28 percent less funding than do traditional public schools), which has forced many schools to close. However, Hill says that Alabama could ensure adequate funding by giving charter schools the same per-pupil funding rate that traditional public schools receive. Additionally, he encourages the state to create tax incentives in order to encourage businesses and individuals to donate to Alabama schools, both public and charter, for which donors would receive a tax credit.
Source: John Hill, "Charter Schools in Alabama: Challenges and Solutions," Alabama Policy Institute, January 2015.
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