Charter Schools: Good, But Not a Cure-All
Charter schools are news at Edspresso, too. The top link this weekend is to a study on charter schools and other forms of parental choice by the National Center for Policy Analysis. The study focuses on how charter schools can help Hispanics who are at risk of dropping out of high school.
I believe parental choice policies can bring down the drop-out rate, but I’m concerned about the emphasis this article (and others like it) place on the cost of dropouts to the state. The implication is that if choice policies kept people in school, those costs would disappear. That’s not necessarily true. Students who, because of various mental or physical problems, are at risk of dropping out, are also more likely than others to need state services when they grow up. Even if we get them to stay in school an extra year or two, they may still be unemployed afterward, or need some kind of support. And although economists have done careful analyses to show that there are benefits from education, it’s hard to say exactly what effect an extra year of schooling would have on a potential dropout.
I think charter schools are a good idea because they expand people’s choices, but we shouldn’t count on them to end the welfare state or erase unemployment. As has been discussed in the last two posts, charter schools aren’t a "magic bullet."