Christiana Stoddard and Sean P. Corcoran
Stoddard and Corcoran examine legislation and patterns in the presence of charter schools and in their enrollments at both the state and local levels using demographic, financial, political, and school performance data from 1990 to 2004, including the most recent information from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) Common Core of Data.
Examining changes in demographic characteristics between 1980 and 1990, the authors find that districts with a rising fraction of black or college-educated individuals saw greater participation in charter schools. In addition, districts in which income inequality was rising saw greater participation in charter schools in the 1990s.
Stoddard and Corcoran find a positive relationship between the fraction of students enrolled in private schools before the passage of charter laws and law passage and strength. They suggest that this may be due to private school parents supporting public charter schools as a substitute for private schools or that it may be related to broad dissatisfaction with public schools and a generally higher demand for alternatives.
In addition, the authors also find that teachers' unions, leading opponents of charter schools, appear to contribute indirectly to their expansion. In states that have both strong unions and strong charter laws, more families seek out charter schools as an educational alternative for their children.