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Public charter schools, funding, funding gap, equitable funding


Historically, public education spending in the United States has risen at a steady rate. In 2017-2018 alone, policymakers spent over $780 billion on the public education system. The intent behind education spending is to create more and better opportunities for students to excel academically, thereby improving their life trajectories. However, looming future challenges such as underfunded teacher pension liabilities suggest that policymakers should “economize” their spending wherever possible. The number of public charter schools, concomitantly, has experienced near exponential growth. From 1991 to 2019, charter school legislation passed in 45 states and the District of Columbia. Student enrollments in public charter schools have increased to over 3.3 million.

Scarcity, inherent among all resources, makes attention to cost-effectiveness and return-on-investment (ROI) considerations critical to

long-term policy success. Therefore, we examine which types of public schooling stand to give each student the greatest “bang for their buck.” Our analysis compares the productivity of different organizations providing a similar service — in this case, public education.