Saturday, April 07, 2012

New Orleans Overheard

I was absolutely floored by this statistic, which Louisiana Superintendent John White just confirmed: for the 90% of New Orleans public schools that are run by charters, the central office cost accounts for a miniscule 1.75% of the total K-12 spending!  (Charters will soon be 100% of the district, so this will be a citywide number shortly.)


Now, some might say that this just means that the burdens of regulatory compliance, payroll, benefits, etc. (which are substantial) fall on the individual schools – and this is true.  But I'm not convinced that there are economies of scale here – in fact, given what I know about the bloat, incompetence, patronage, nepotism, etc. in most big-city central headquarters, I'd bet that there are huge DISeconomies of scale…  Plus, many New Orleans charter schools are part of networks (like KIPP) that can help spread the burdens.


This gets back to the Reformer vs. Relinquisher debate (see:, and is a POWERFUL argument in favor of the latter, given the tight financial times we're in (and will likely be in for a looooong time).  


If anyone has any statistics about what the comparable number is for other cities (I'd guess 25-40%), please let me know…

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