RGF defends charter funding system in letter to the editor

In Rio Rancho, there has been a battle going on over whether the AIMS charter school should or should not be allowed to open at the UNM campus in Rio Rancho (the school recently received a waiver from the Public Education Department to do exactly that). While RGF supports school choice and charters, the organization had not taken a position on the AIMS expansion in particular. However, a recent article claimed, based on a flawed study from the Legislative Finance Committee, that charters receive disproportionate funding per-pupil relative to traditional public schools. In reality, that is not the case and I pointed it out in a published letter in the Albuquerque Journal Rio edition with relevant links added below:

Letters to the Editor
Albuquerque Journal Rio

The Rio Grande Foundation is a strong supporter of charter schools and school choice, but we have not taken a position on the AIMS/UNM West controversy.

Nonetheless, it is important to clear up an important inaccuracy in Hope Garcia’s piece. She claims that charter schools receive more funding per-student than do traditional public schools. The Legislative Finance Committee report on which this information is based failed to include building and infrastructure expenses which are conveniently provided for traditional public schools, but not for charters.

A new, unbiased and all-inclusive report from University of Arkansas, published in the Journal of School Choice, looked at total per-pupil funding and found that New Mexico charter schools receive $365 less per pupil than traditional public schools.

While it is tough to parse all of the specific issues inherent in the AIMS/UNM West controversy, there is no doubt that money is a big part of the issue. This is yet another argument for an education funding system that provides resources directly to students and their families as opposed to bureaucracies. After all, our education system is supposed to serve students for their educational benefit, not systems and bureaucracies.