| September 5, 2012

Charter schools are not enough

Many charter schools in Oklahoma and nationwide are wonderful. OCPA has raved about a certain charter school in Tulsa, for example. And by now nearly everyone (including Bill Clinton) recognizes that KIPP schools are saving kids’ lives.

And yet, as I’ve pointed out before, it’s hard to compete with free. Could charter schools actually be undermining parental choice?

“Rigorous new research concludes that public charter schools are seriously damaging the private education market, adding to the taxpayer burden, and undermining private options for families and healthy competition in the education sector,” Adam Schaeffer wrote last week. As the chart below shows, it is in the “highly urban” areas where charter schools are having the most success cutting into the private sector.

I have no idea if charter schools contributed to the demise of Villa Teresa, a Catholic school in midtown Oklahoma City, but it’s certainly not unreasonable to suspect such a thing.

“Charters don’t fix the underlying injustice of government monopolizing education by providing ‘free’ (i.e., free at the point of service, paid for by taxpayers) education, driving everyone else out of the education sector,” Greg Forster adds. Indeed, charter schools can be viewed “as a response by the government to protect its monopoly against the disruptive threat of voucher legislation.”

Bottom line: Public-sector-only school reform is not sufficient. If charter schools are in fact “wreaking havoc on private education,” as Schaeffer says, then policymakers need to put the pedal to the metal on reforms like vouchers, tax credits, tax deductions, and Education Savings Accounts. Because as The Wall Street Journal has reported, reforms like these are “breathing new life” into private-sector schools.

They’re also having a “huge impact” on a very important private school in Tulsa.

Loading Next