Skip to main content

Interdistrict School Choice Funding Decisions Should Be Grounded in a Full Understanding of Costs

BOULDER, CO (April 6, 2023)—The Reason Foundation, a vigorous advocate for choice policies such as vouchers and charter schools, recently published a report advocating for the increased “portability” of school revenues, allowing for “money to follow the students” and, therefore, the expansion of interdistrict choice programs.

In a review of Public Education Funding Without Boundaries: How to Get K-12 Dollars to Follow Open Enrollment Students, Dr. Mark Weber of Rutgers University finds significant methodological flaws, all stemming from the report’s simplistic view of school “costs.”  

The report attempts to show that many current features of state-level school funding formulas inhibit the portability of revenues. While there are sound policy reasons to facilitate greater interdistrict choice, this report’s prescriptions are not sound, in large part because they betray a lack of understanding of a core principle of school finance: Different students in different districts have different costs to achieve educational outcomes.

The funding portability systems touted by the report do not account for many factors that determine student costs. Professor Weber explains that this results in a mismatch between costs and revenues that advantages some districts while disadvantaging others when students transfer.

Professor Weber concludes that policymakers should avoid the facile recommendations in this report and instead carefully consider the many complexities in designing a portability system for interdistrict choice programs.

Find the review, by Mark Weber, at:

Find Public Education Funding Without Boundaries: How to Get K-12 Dollars to Follow Open Enrollment Students, written by Aaron Garth Smith, Christian Barnard, and Jordan Campbell and published by the Reason Foundation, at:


NEPC Reviews ( provide the public, policymakers, and the press with timely, academically sound reviews of selected publications. NEPC Reviews are made possible in part by support provided by the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice:

The National Education Policy Center (NEPC), a university research center housed at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education, sponsors research, produces policy briefs, and publishes expert third-party reviews of think tank reports. NEPC publications are written in accessible language and are intended for a broad audience that includes academic experts, policymakers, the media, and the general public. Our mission is to provide high-quality information in support of democratic deliberation about education policy.  We are guided by the belief that the democratic governance of public education is strengthened when policies are based on sound evidence and support a multiracial society that is inclusive, kind, and just. Visit us at: