Charter schools are providing an alternative to traditional public schools that are performing poorly and leaving disadvantaged students worse off.
A 2015 study from the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, titled A Growing Movement: America’s Largest Charter School Communities, reported, “Charter schools are the fastest-growing choice option in U.S. public education. Over the past five years, student enrollment in charter public schools has grown by 62 percent. In 43 states and the District of Columbia, more than 2.9 million students now attend charter schools—which is more than six percent of the total number of students enrolled in all public schools.”
According to a recent study published by the DC Fiscal Policy Institute (DCFPI), enrollment in the District of Columbia’s public charter schools accounted for nearly half of all DC students in the 2015-16 school year. In New York City, rapper and businessman Sean “Diddy” Combs announced he’s sponsoring a charter school in Harlem, New York, scheduled to open its doors this fall 2016. Across the country, Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee (D) allowing a new law which will fund Washington State charter schools from an account in the state’s budget that uses proceeds from the state lottery.
PhD student Elizabeth Setren of Massachusetts Institute of Technology has been researching unanswered questions in the policy debate of whether charter schools should be allowed to expand. In a recent MIT News article, Setren argues “The achievement of special needs lottery applicants in charters and in traditional public schools, and was surprised to discover that across the board, regardless of their level of need, these students are much more successful in charter schools. In fact, for English-language learners, a year in a charter school essentially allowed them to catch up to native English speakers in traditional public schools, erasing much of the achievement gap that typically exists.”
In a recent Somewhat Reasonable blog post, Heartland Managing Editor of School Reform News argues that student across the country would be better served with charter schools, “The expansion of school choice programs, along with an increasing amount of evidence pointing to their success, is iron-clad evidence they are working effectively. Unfortunately, powerful teachers unions’ ongoing attacks against school choice are standing in the way of progress, as politicians fear their financial and political clout.”
What We’re Working On
Register Today for Our Emerging Issues Forums!
The Heartland Institute is hosting two Emerging Issues Forums (EIF) in 2016. The first will be held in Chicago, Illinois on August 7–8, immediately before the National Conference of State Legislature’s Legislative Summit. The second will be held in Orlando, Florida on December 15–17. The Emerging Issues Forum brings together elected officials, policy analysts, and government affairs professionals from across the country. You will hear from leading free-market experts as we explore innovative solutions to the top public policy issues that will face the states in 2017 and beyond. Registration to the event is free for elected officials, spouses, and legislative staff, and travel scholarships are available. Space is limited, so please register today!
Budget & Tax
Research & Commentary: States Should Reform How They Budget
Sixteen states are facing expected budget shortfalls in the 2016 and 2017 fiscal years. One of the primary causes of budget imbalance is the use of baseline budgeting. Simply put, a baseline government budget carries over existing spending levels from year to year; the previous year’s spending is treated as the floor on which to build additional spending changes.
In this Research & Commentary, Senior Policy Analyst Matthew Glans examines several alternatives to baseline budgeting states should consider to control spending: “Although neither approach is a silver bullet for ending a budget deficit, zero-based and performance-based budgeting can be effective in helping governments prioritize services and identify inefficiencies and waste.” Read more
D.C. Public Charter Schools Now Educate Nearly Half of City’s Students
Elizabeth BeShears writes about a new report issued by the DC Fiscal Policy Institute that shows nearly half of all students in the District of Columbia are now attending a charter school. The percentage of DC students in charters has gone from 25 percent in the 2005–06 school year to 46 percent in 2015–16. BeShears says advocates in DC note their schools serve a greater proportion of low-income and minority students and do so while producing higher proficiency, graduation, and college acceptance rates. They credit the success of charter schools in DC to the District’s strong, straightforward, and clear charter school laws. Read more
Energy & Environment
Kids Guide to Climate Change
The Kids Guide to Climate Change is a recently released e-book educating children ages 8 to 14 on climate change. Part of the Mother Owl series, which includes books on carbon and “the facts of life,” the Kids Guide to Climate Change examines the facts about climate that are currently known and makes no theoretical predictions about the future. To make the book age appropriate, each section opens with a poem and then gives more detailed information about each of the examined concepts. It is intended for parents to read with their children. The book’s key message is this simple fact: Climate changes from place to place and over periods of time. Purchase here
Policy Diagnosis: Federal ‘Meaningful Use’ Regulations Killed Health Record Innovation
In this interview, Michael Hamilton, managing editor of Health Care News, speaks with Dr. Mike Koriwchak, vice president of Docs4PatientCare Foundation and cohost of The Doctor’s Lounge podcast, about “meaningful use.” Meaningful use is a certified electronic health records technology that has, they argue, killed electronic records innovation. The interview outlines how lawmakers and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services can help revive it. Read more
From Our Free-Market Friends
Pioneer Institute Releases Policy Brief: BID-Plymouth Program Shows Promise in Battling Opioid Abuse
According to a new Pioneer Institute policy brief, preliminary results suggest that a new program that gives opioid overdose patients at Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital-Plymouth (BID-Plymouth) multiple opportunities to access detox programs, psychological counseling, anti-abuse drugs and other services is proving effective at reducing recidivism and returning opioid users to more productive lives. In Combating Opioid Addiction in Massachusetts: A Hospital-Based Solution Shows Promise in Reducing Relapses and ER Costs, author Tom Mashberg describes the process by which a behavioral health team of nurse practitioners, social workers and substance abuse specialists embedded in the emergency room (ER) responds as soon as a patient suffering from an opioid overdose enters the hospital