Abstract

This article explores whether two popular policy initiatives are compatible or conflicting strategies for enhancing educational equality in diverse large urban centers. These two initiatives are (1) charter school expansion and (2) improvement of resource equity across urban public school systems through policies often referred to as weighted student funding formulas. In this article, we focus on New York and Houston, two cities where districts have adopted initiatives to improve equity of the distribution of school site funding and have concurrently experienced significant expansion of charter schooling. We find that charter schools have the tendency to amplify student population differences across schools by disability, language, and low income status, and that charter schools’ access to financial resources varies widely. Nevertheless, we find that in very large urban districts like New York City, where charter market share remains small, the overall effects of charters on system-wide inequity remain small.

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