by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Anti-school choice activists often argue that charter school expansion hurts existing schools, but a new study of New York City schools found that new charter schools are increasing the performance of schools around them.
The peer-reviewed statistical analysis, conducted by Temple University professor Sarah Cordes, indicates charter schools are not only helping the students enrolled, but also students at schools that feel pressured to increase performance due to their close proximity to a new charter school.
The study found that schools located within half a mile of a new charter school saw increased scores in both math and reading, and the increase become more significant the closer the schools were. The impact was felt most in situations where a charter school opened inside the same building as an existing school.
“The closer the school is, the more it’s on the minds of the people in the building,” Cordes explained to The 74, an education nonprofit.
Cordes found that the quality of the charter school does not have an impact on how much it helps other schools in the building.
“Just the presence of an alternative does it,” she said. “It doesn’t really matter how great that alternative is—it’s just the fact that that alternative is there, it’s in the building, and people see it every day.”