Last May, my colleagues and I at the University of Arkansas found that students in San Antonio charter schools received 20 percent less educational funding than their peers in district schools. But a just‐released study by our team finds that despite the funding disadvantage, students in San Antonio charter schools outperform their district school counterparts on math and reading achievement exams.
In fact, we find that San Antonio charter schools are 35 percent more cost‐effective and produce a 36 percent higher return on taxpayer investment than district schools.
Let’s make this a bit more concrete. The data show that every thousand dollars spent on education at district schools translates to around a $7,500 increase in students’ lifetime earnings. That is great. But that same thousand‐dollar‐expenditure produces an estimated $9,750 in students’ lifetime earnings if allocated to a public charter school in the city. And that 30 percent advantage is extremely important considering San Antonio taxpayers spend over $157,000 for each child’s K-12 education in district schools.
In other words, 13 years of equal funding in charter schools could produce around an additional $350,000 in lifetime earnings for San Antonio students.