Yongmei Ni, associate professor in Educational Leadership and Policy at the University of Utah, has spent years researching the effectiveness of school choice policies. Part of Ni’s research has focused on Michigan to measure the impact of charter schools on traditional public school efficiency and resource allocation.
When it comes to efficiency, Ni's results from 2009 in Economics of Education Review suggest that Michigan charter schools impose a significant negative impact on traditional public school performance in areas with high levels of charter competition. The negative effect was small in the short run, but becomes more substantial in the long run.
In another study from 2012 in Educational Administration Quarterly, Ni and her co-author found that charter school competition does not have many strong or consistent impacts on school district resource allocation, contradicting the prediction that competition makes traditional public schools shift resources to achievement-oriented activities and thus improves student performance.
In a recent study with her team published in the Journal of Educational Finance, the results indicate that many Michigan districts face fiscal stress because of changes in districts’ state funding, enrollment loss that is partly associated with school choice policies and the enrollment of high-cost, special education students. In addition, they found that in the relatively small number of Michigan districts in which charter penetration reaches high and sustained levels, the loss of students to charters caused district fund balances to sharply deteriorate. Part of this can be explained by the increase of high-cost special education students in these impacted district schools, because charter schools tend to enroll fewer special education students.