Q: Do Charters Spend More on Administration? A: Yes

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I received a question over email querying if charters spend more on administration aka school leadership. I used t-tests to compare school leadership per pupil spending means from the 2010-2011 school finance data (the most recent cleaned dataset on my laptop) for all schools in Texas. Here is what I found:

Screen Shot 2013-09-25 at 12.28.36 AMIn elementary, charters spend $147 more per pupil than traditional public schools.

In middle, charters spend $495 more per pupil than traditional public schools.

In high school, charters spend $230 more per pupil than traditional public schools.

Are the differences in means statistically significant?Screen Shot 2013-09-25 at 12.28.51 AM

The independent t-test show that for all schools in Texas the higher administrative spending by charters is statistically significant (alpha<.000) for elementary and middle school levels but not for high schools.

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Categories: Charter Schools, School Finance

Author:Julian Vasquez Heilig

Julian Vasquez Heilig is currently an Associate Professor of Educational Policy and Planning and African and African Diaspora Studies (by courtesy) at the University of Texas at Austin.

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6 Comments on “Q: Do Charters Spend More on Administration? A: Yes”

  1. Monty J. Thornburg, Ph.D.
    September 25, 2013 at 9:22 am #

    Dr. Vasquez-Heilig: “Hard data” is nice except when it isn’t! Isn’t the the story going on here with data the “deceptive” information by those you are calling out, the real story?

    Thank you for showing your work, as we teachers say in the classroom. I’ve become convinced that this a very large ideological struggle as big as Civil Rights … and the ideologues who believe in “privatization” won’t be convinced by data … “hard data” or otherwise, unless it fits their purposes.

    The Gov. of Louisiana was joined recently by Jeb Bush asking the Justice Dept. to back off its law suit against vouchers- Short memory these radicals have, in the mid-1960s in “Pondexter v. Louisiana” the 5th Circuit declared Vouchers as discriminatory. To paraphrase the courts reasoning: “a legal action can become illegal when its result or intent is an illegal outcome” …

    Charter schools may not be illegal but -shall we discuss fairness? If not efficiency, as you have done. Thanks for your work! Keep showing it to the public and maybe we’ll get it!

  2. September 25, 2013 at 9:28 am #

    No one has yet explained how extracting profits from schools and then paying more for administration somehow makes the learning process better.

    Please keep up the good work.

  3. Ed Fuller
    September 25, 2013 at 9:49 am #

    You really need to control for school size. You could split tyhe file by ranges of school/district size and re-analyze the data.

    • September 25, 2013 at 10:13 am #

      I don’t have a variable for size. Can you send me a variable that I can match in and rerun with an additional variable? Although, I should note, I used per pupil instead of total spending to address size.

  4. Angie Pete Yowell
    September 29, 2013 at 7:17 pm #

    JVH – when you add up these numbers, are you including the staff that work in the big administration offices like on West Sixth?

    • October 1, 2013 at 6:17 am #

      The numbers come from the PEIMs database. The numbers show that you actually get better economies of scale with the district relative to charters on this particularly measure.

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