Access to public charter schools could theoretically reduce school climate problems by increasing competitive pressures, improving matches between schools and students, enhancing discipline policies, and allowing students to relocate to peer groups and cultures that discourage risky behaviors. Using publicly available data from the Pennsylvania Department of Education, I examine differences in reports of 58 school climate problems between public charter and district-run public school sectors in the 2018-19 school year. After controlling for several differences in students between sectors, I find that public charter schools generally report fewer school climate problems than district-run public schools in Pennsylvania. These charter school sector advantages are generally more pronounced for cyber charter schools than brick-and-mortar charter schools, and for charter schools located in Philadelphia County than charter schools located in the rest of the state.
Keywords: charter schools; school choice; school safety; school violence; school climate
JEL Codes: I28; I20
Are Charter Schools Safer Than District-Run Schools? Evidence From Pennsylvania