Education Letter to the Editor

The Benefits of Ending Charter School Caps

August 11, 2009 1 min read

To the Editor:

Lower-performing charter schools are especially problematic when states cap charter school numbers (“Accountability Looms Large as Charter Proponents Mull Future,” July 15, 2009). Absent the cap, newer, better schools would enter to displace the low performers.

With a cap in place, however, it is up to charter authorizers to identify and close low performers, and then the students who had been in those schools must enroll in a school they thought was even worse than the charter they had chosen. Under a cap, the slot created by closing a low performer may be taken by a chartered school in another part of the state, or by a school with a mission unlike that of the closing charter, and thus be of no use to uprooted students.

Eliminate the cap, and better schools can displace low performers where they are. That benefit would be in addition to other advantages, such as increased market pressure and opportunities to innovate.

John Merrifield

Professor of Economics

University of Texas at San Antonio

San Antonio, Texas

A version of this article appeared in the August 12, 2009 edition of Education Week as The Benefits of Ending Charter School Caps