Giving Compass' Take:

•  Matt Barnum, writing for Chalkbeat, discusses both sides of charter school expansion and the impact on school districts. 

• How is charter school expansion affecting your local school district?

• Read about how much charter schools are costing school districts in California.  

Are charter schools “draining,” “siphoning,” or “funneling” resources away from school districts? It’s an argument at the heart of the increasingly contentious national debate over charter schools.

Presidential candidates like Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden have recently raised it, too. “The bottom line is, it siphons off money for our public schools, which are already in enough trouble,” Biden said of some charters.

Charter school supporters say that ignores the potential benefits to students — and that the funding argument misses the point.

“Do charters drain funding from our public schools? How could they? Charters are public schools,” wrote David Osborne, a charter supporter. “They do drain funding from traditional school districts, but that’s because parents have proactively pulled their children out of district schools and placed them in charter schools.”

The politics of the issue are so charged that it can be hard to separate fact from fiction. But charters have also been around long enough for there to be good answers to questions about what happens to traditional district schools when charter schools arrive.

Here’s the short of it: Charter schools really do divert money from school districts. Those districts can make up for that by cutting costs over time. But the process of doing so is often fraught, especially because the most straightforward way to reduce costs is to close schools.

In reality, charters aren’t the only cause of financial challenges faced by districts. Students leave for schools in other towns or private schools, and many districts also grapple with limited state funding or unwieldy pension obligations.

But charter expansion really has been a key driver of declining enrollment in many places.

Read the full article about charter school debate by Matt Barnum at Chalkbeat.