Source: Brookings Institute

How can it be that some studies find enrollment shifts to charter schools harm district finances, while others seldom find harm and often find benefits to students? The studies look at different outcomes, so it is possible that districts struggle financially but succeed in insulating students from harm. To sort out financial and achievement effects, we need coordinated studies in particular cities, analyzing the effects of charter growth on district finances and tracing these through school funding and instructional practices to effects on students. The question of effects of charter growth on district schools and students is important enough to warrant thorough and objective study: a sample of districts impacted by charter schools with careful review of financial challenges, district responses, consequences for school operations, and student results. But until such studies are done, people with different perspectives will remain in well-established warring camps.