NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Are All-Charter School Districts the Answer to Failing Schools?

March 13, 2015

Education reforms can take many shapes and sizes, major categories include reforms through public school choice and private school choice. A very popular public school choice option are charter schools. Some states have no limits on charter schools, others have many restrictions and some states do not allow charter schools. The New Orleans Recovery District recently became the first all-charter school district. Turning an entire school district, one that has close to a fifth of the entire states population, into all-charter schools is a huge reform in the public school system. The Recovery School District is a case for all-charter school districts says, National Center for Policy Analysis senior research fellow Lloyd Bentsen.

The data that supports the immediate success of this large reform includes:

  • A 2013 study by the Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) found that New Orleans charter schools deliver five months of extra learning per year when compared to traditional public schools.
  • Before Hurricane Katrina, 64 percent of public school students in New Orleans attended a school designated as "failing." Currently, only 9 percent of students attend failing schools.
  • High school graduation rates have increased by more than 20 percentage points since before Hurricane Katrina.

While transitioning to an all-charter school district worked for New Orleans, it might not be the best option for other school districts. In fact, testing all sorts of educational reforms is a great idea for any school district. However, each state must remove restrictions and regulations on at least all public school choice options. Artificial caps on charter schools should not exist where there are large waiting lists (demand) for new educational options (charter school supply).

Source: Lloyd Bentsen, "Charter Schools and All-Charter School Districts," National Center for Policy Analysis, March 10, 2015. 


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