Ph.D. Dissertation Defense: Mark Alan Weber, Jr.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018 1:00pm - 3:00pm

GSE 011

Dissertation Defense

The Effects Of Charter School Proliferation and Locational Decisions On the Finances Of Public District Schools

Mark is a doctoral student in the Theory, Organization, and Policy concentration of the Doctor of Philosophy program.

Committee: Dr. Bruce Baker (Chair), Dr. Drew Gitomer, Dr. Catherine Lugg, Dr. Julia Sass Rubin



Charter schools have become an important part of the U.S. school system; however, relatively little is known about how charter proliferation affects the finances of the public school districts within whose boundaries charters reside. This three-paper dissertation leverages unique datasets to ascertain the effects of charter growth on school spending and other resource measures. In paper one, I employ fixed-effects models on national data to estimate the effects of charter proliferation on a variety of school resource measures. In many states, charter growth correlates with increased spending; however, inconsistencies in federal data suggest that in some states this increase may be mechanical. Further analysis of state-level data from Minnesota and New Jersey finds evidence, however, that the increased spending is due to fixed costs in public school districts that are inelastic to enrollment decreases due to charter proliferation. The second paper further examines New Jersey data. I find that school district spending increases in the early stages of charter growth, then falls after a “turnaround” point. Analysis of both fiscal and staffing measures suggests resources vary in their elasticity to charter proliferation. Paper three analyzes correlations between demographic characteristics of census tracts and the probability a charter school is inside the tract. I find that poverty significantly increases the chance a charter is present within a neighborhood, while an increase in the percentage of white residents decreases that same probability. This suggests the growth in spending found in papers one and two, which appears to induce inefficiencies, is not evenly spread among tracts of differing socio-economic and racial characteristics. This dissertation makes contributions to the literature on charter schools, furthering the understanding of their effects on public district schools.


Who to contact:

Ericka Diaz