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William J. Mathis, (802) 383-0058,
Dan Quinn, (517) 203-2940,

New Brief Calls for Increased Scrutiny in Funding 'Choice' Schools

EAST LANSING, Mich. (Dec. 13, 2012) – The fourth in a new series of two- and three-page briefs summarizing current relevant findings in education policy research describes important issues and questions that policymakers should consider in determining public funding of alternatives to conventional public schools. 'Choice' schools include charter schools, conventional vouchers, neovouchers, magnet schools, open enrollment, and across-district school choice.

In regards to the funding of 'choice' schools, Dr. William Mathis, managing director of the National Education Policy Center, suggests, "Issues such as democratic governance, accountability of public funds, quality control and church/state concerns must be carefully deliberated."

In Public Funding of School Choice, Mathis further explains, "When lawmakers do decide to allocate public funding to choice schools, as they have increasingly done over the past couple of decades, they must then engage in a new level of scrutiny regarding the structure, level and conditions of these subsidies."

Mathis notes that the specific costs as well as the specific needs of students will vary from school to school, meaning the funding requirements can correspondingly vary widely. Similarly, wide variations among states in funding levels, funding sources, regulatory scrutiny, and the details of choice mechanisms complicate the decisions policymakers face. Mathis also explains that recipients of public funding should be open to rigorous scrutiny that emphasizes equity, transparency, and the assurance that the funding is reaching the intended students.

Public Funding of School Choice is part of Research-Based Options for Education Policymaking, a multipart brief that takes up a number of important policy issues and identifies policies supported by research. Each section focuses on a different issue, and its recommendations to policymakers are based on the latest scholarship.

This brief was produced by the National Education Policy Center with funding from the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.

Find the brief on the Great Lakes Center website:

This brief is also found on the NEPC website:


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