Charter schools not affordable

April 19, 2012

The problem with charter schools, particularly charter schools not limited to failing school districts, is that Mississippi simply cannot afford them.

Private school enrollment is not publicly tracked, but the 2010 American Community Survey estimates that Mississippi has 60,000 K-12 students enrolled in private schools.

These are students who presently do not receive public funding for their schooling because, for whatever reason, their families have chosen not to send them to public school.

If only half of these students were to enter charter schools, and thereby receive the associated public funding, there would be 30,000 additional students suddenly receiving their pro-rata portion of public school funds for the first time.

The average per-pupil expenditure in the state is at least $8,000. That would place an additional $240 million burden on our educational system.

Even if only a fraction of the private school students won the charter school lottery, the system as a whole is already $300 million underfunded.

How precisely does adding more students into an underfunded system improve education in Mississippi? Enacting charter school legislation without increased appropriations for public school education is fiscally irresponsible.

Jeremy D. Eisler
Education Attorney
Mississippi Center for Justice
Biloxi