As anyone with kids who’s house-shopped lately can tell you, good schools raise property values–sometimes a lot. So one way to ask whether charter schools are good schools is to see whether the arrival of charter schools in a neighborhood raises local property values. A new paper, “Capitalization of Charter Schools into Residential Property Values,” does just that.
Using data from Los Angeles County between 2008 and 2011, the authors looked at the change in the number of charter schools close to a given neighborhood. Then they looked at whether housing prices in the neighborhood went up or down. The answer is that charters opening and closing did nothing to housing prices.
So does this prove that charter schools have a no effect on housing prices, and perhaps by inference are neither better nor worse than whatever schools local children would otherwise have attended? It’s certainly evidence in that direction, but allow me to offer two caveats.
- There’s good reason to believe some charters are very effective and others very much are not. One possibility is that the “charters have no effect” result is an average of some charters having pluses and others having minuses.
- I wonder how long it takes for a good school to establish a reputation strong enough to affect property values. The authors only had data for four years. It could be that it takes a lot longer than that for changes in schools to make a difference to property values.