Cyber charter schools and growing resource inequality among public districts: Geospatial patterns and consequences of a statewide choice policy in Pennsylvania, 2002–2014

Bryan Mann, David P. Baker

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Abstract

An analysis from 2002 to 2014, aligning media reporting of the effectiveness of the fully online K–12 cyber charter school model with data on enrollment flows to cyber charter schools and expenditure and demographic indicators across all 500 residential public school districts in Pennsylvania, finds a three-part geospatial-social process. Initial high-tech cachet surrounding the option stimulated statewide spread in enrollments, but over time growth in student flows became more pronounced among disadvantaged, lower tax-base public school districts. As mass media coverage shifted to a research-substantiated narrative of the model’s academic ineffectiveness, cyber charter enrollments declined first in districts with higher parent educational attainment and then intensified. With the large movement of students, the mean amount of public funds transferred from residential districts in 2014 was about $800,000 (standard deviation about $3,100,000). With dubious academic benefits, districts with the lowest tax base lost significant revenue to cyber charter providers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)147-171
Number of pages25
JournalAmerican Journal of Education
Volume125
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 1 2019

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All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education

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