N.J. Charter Schools Receive Less Money From Private Sources Than N.J.’s Traditional Schools

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This just out on NJ Advance Media:

Researchers at the University of Arkansas studied 15 states, including New Jersey, and found that traditional public schools receive more than $2,700 more per student than charters, even with non-public dollars included. The data analyzed is from the 2010-11 school year, the most recent available at the time the study began. 

New Jersey was one of only three states in the study where charter schools received less in non-public revenue per pupil than traditional public schools. Traditional public schools received 1.3 percent of funding from private sources, while charters got 1 percent from non-public sources.

One of the hobbyhorses that anti-charter school proponents ride is that student charter school success can partially be attributed to extra funding provided by private foundations. (They might mention, but don’t, that one of the reasons N.J. charters might have to beg for money from foundations is because N.J. offers absolutely no facilities aid for charter schools. Also, while current state law says that districts should give 90% of cost per pupil to charters, they actually give about 70%.)

There’s lots of examples of charter school-bashing on the basis that, say, grants from the evil empire of Bill and Melinda Gates, who cravenly donated $1.5 billion to childhood immunization initiatives, help charters fund longer school days or higher teacher pay.

Here’s one.

Last month the Star-Ledger ran a story praising KIPP NJ because it “sends more African American boys and girls to college than any other in Newark without “creaming off” high-performing kids. (KIPP’s demographics reflect Newark’s demographics.)

This story provoked temper tantrums from Bruce Baker and his doctoral student Mark Weber, aka Jersey Jazzman. Weber, in addition to insulting the reporter by saying she “was in the tank” for KIPP and that KIPP “fed her talking points,”says that she  “glosses over the fact that KIPP/TEAM has substantial philanthropic support, one of the reasons the KIPP chain spends much more per student than comparable district schools.”
According to this new study (to which I have no link yet) N.J. charter school critics need to find a new horse. Or just keep flogging the old one.
Update: here’s the link.
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  • Marie Corfield, June 17, 2015 @ 4:48 pm Reply

    I think it's a bit premature for this post considering you haven't looked at the study yet. As for the 'tantrum' by Mark Weber, when a reporter fails to objectively look at the facts and data, refuses (or is not able) to comprehend the information being given, and simply writes what he/she feels like writing, (which happens more often than not in SL education reporting), it gets a little frustrating after a while.

  • Julia, June 17, 2015 @ 5:07 pm Reply

    Laura, a few correction of misinformation in your post:

    First, this study is from a very ideological department and is based on five year old data, so seeing the report first is particularly key.

    Second, as the Star Ledger article points out, private funding is concentrated, with about a third of all NJ charter schools receiving most of it. That's not surprising. National charter chains like KIPP and Uncommon are likely to receive a large portion, as would charters in wealthier communities such as Princeton or those attended by wealthier residents of mixed income communities, such as in Hoboken.

    Third, NJ charter schools do receive subsidized facilities funding, just not from the NJDOE.

    Fourth, NJ's charter law does not say that districts should give charters 90% of their cost per pupil. The law is much more complex than that. Districts are following the law in how much they transfer to charters. If they did not, charters could ask the NJDOE to intervene.

    Fifth, the main reason that some NJ charter schools receive less aid is because of the demographics of the students they educate. Our school funding formula provides additional aid for Free or Reduced Lunch, Limited English Proficient, special needs and high school students. Charter schools with few or none of those groups of students receive less funding – sometimes dramatically less than other charter schools in their districts.

    Sixth, charter schools in a few districts are also receiving less aid because some categorical aid is not passed through to them. The state could address that directly. Instead, the Christie Administration is forcing already underfunded districts to pay more to charters, regardless of whether those districts are actually receiving the categorical aid in question or not. Newark alone is being forced to pay more than $63 million over two years, although it receives almost none of those categorical aid dollars.

    Finally, charter funding is also impacted by the lack of state aid, with a more than $6 billion underfunding of SFRA under Governor Christie. As district enrollments are growing and becoming more at risk, districts are having to reduce their base per-pupil funding amounts, which means fewer dollars for everyone, including charters.

  • Duke, June 18, 2015 @ 2:44 am Reply

    Just in case anyone actually reads this:

    Laura, here's the link to the report you cite (and, I guess, didn't read):


    Maybe take 30 seconds out of your day next time to actually Google these things…

    I know education policy isn't your strong suit, but if you read slowly and carefully, you'll find the study is about “non-public” revenue, NOT just philanthropic giving. That includes, incredibly, things like lunch revenues for children who don't qualify for free or reduced price lunch.

    If you read closely, you'll find that the report actually shores up the contention that a few high-profile charters (in Newark — gosh, I wonder who…) gobble up a big piece of the philanthropic giving to schools.

    More to come on this.

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