After years of negotiations, Charter Schools USA will not be building a new Charter school in Cary, NC. Although the plan was approved in 2004, several hundred people signed a petition over traffic concerns and “having enough schools” in the area. Colleen Reynold, the spokesperson for Charter Schools USA, commented, “We always strive to be community partners, and the pushback concerns us.”
But the real question is, beyond educational benefits, are neighborhoods aware of the community benefits of charter schools? Our guess is the neighborhoods near this undeveloped land did not realize the potential positive impact they missed out on. Today, we will highlight a few charter school benefits from research that outweigh traffic concerns (and we CARE that the benefits outweigh the concerns because we want to promote greener practices):
1. RAISES PROPERTY VALUES
It’s common knowledge that buying a home in a good school district can cost a pretty penny. As we wrote several weeks ago, people who don’t even have children consider “good school district” as a characteristic of a dream home. Research shows that when communities add school choice like charter schools, property values of the homes in the area go up too. So, neighbors, if you add a charter school or other school choice options to your community, research says your house will be worth more!
2. KEEPS COMMUNITIES THRIVING
Another benefit of charter schools is their power to keep neighborhoods from stratifying economically across school district lines (particularly in lower income areas). In several studies, research shows charter schools attract families to the neighborhoods where they are located. Creating and sustaining more economically diverse communities has a multitude of benefits: less crime, more job opportunities and resources for the community, and even better life outcomes for those who would have lived in concentrated poverty.
Since a picture can be worth a thousand words, let’s take a look at what students’ families did after a high-quality charter school opened in NC. This study demonstrated that many families who enrolled students in the charter school moved closer to the school. The black dot in the image is the school, and the two images show where the families started vs. where they ended up. The charter school was a powerful magnet for families.
3. ENHANCES OTHER SCHOOLS:
Finally, did you know that when traditional schools are located close to charter schools, their students perform better academically? And it seems, the closer they are the better. This study even describes the power of a co-located charter and public school campus.
So, maybe the fear of more complex traffic patterns angered this neighborhood, but if a charter school offers to be your neighbor, consider how the pros might outweigh the cons.
Image via Bart Everson