Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco

Community Development

Charter School Tax Credit: Investing in Human Capital

Author(s):

December 1, 2010

Community Development Working Papers

This working paper considers how two existing policy tools–investment tax credits and charter schools–could be combined to raise operating funds for charter schools that successfully close the poverty-related academic achievement gap. Some charter schools have succeeded in dramatically improving low-income student performance (those run by KIPP, Achievement First, and the Harlem Children’s Zone, for example). However, these successful schools differ significantly in type and approach. As a result, it is difficult to identify a single, or combination of variables in any one charter that, if replicated, would produce the same results across the public school system. This working paper acknowledges the difficulty of so-called “silver bullet” school reform replication and considers an alternative: cultivating a diverse array of education approaches using tools developed by the community development finance industry over the last 30 years.

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