UO researcher questions use of public funds for charter schools

Children at school

The pros and cons of charter schools have been a subject of debate recently, and a new report by a UO researcher is adding to the discussion by concluding that charter schools in California have cost the state billions, often with little or no benefit.

The report, “Spending Blind: The Failure of Policy Planning in California Charter School Funding,” was written by UO professor Gordon Lafer for In the Public Interest, a research and policy center in Oakland, California.

“The report finds that this funding (building, buying, leasing) is almost completely disconnected from educational policy objectives,” Lafer wrote. “And the results are, in turn, scattershot and haphazard. Far too much of this public funding is spent on schools built in neighborhoods that have no need for additional classroom space, and which offer no improvement over the quality of education already available in nearby public schools.”

According to the report, the charter school industry in California has used more than $2.5 billion in government-backed bonds, tax credits or grants to bring charter schools to areas that could not legally build a public school because enrollment demands were not high enough.

To learn more about Lafer’s report, read “Shocking Eucation Report Shows Taxpayers Paying Hundreds of Millions for Unneeded and Inferior Charter Schools” on Alternet.

Lafer teaches at the UO’s Labor Education and Research Center. His work often focuses on labor and employment policy, and his most recent book, “The One Percent Solution: How Corporations Are Remaking America, One State at a Time,” discusses the impact that corporate lobbyists have had on state laws and policies.