As Paul Ryan has become a big news item the past few weeks, here is a brief look and how Paul Ryan's influence could affect charter schools, if Romney is elected and if Ryan has influence in education policy.
First, Paul Ryan is definitely a fiscal "conservative" (liberal in the terms used back in the day when Adam Smith was considered a "liberal" because he favored allowing the markets and not kings or parliament or guilds to determine quantities and qualities of products). Ryan advocates deep cuts in government spending. This includes some education programs.
Second, Ryan is opposed to teachers' unions. The NEA has already come out against Ryan. It is logical to conclude that Ryan would continue to advocate for charter schools to be able to waive union teachers. It's also not unlikely that he might favor additional measures to make it easier for schools to hire non-licensed teachers.
Third, Ryan favors choice in education. He is a long time proponent of charter schools.
While items two and three favor charter schools, spending cuts to already strapped schools could be harmful. Charter schools serving low income students rely on Title I funds. If those funds are cut or are gone, that hurts charter schools for low income kids.
With regard to education as a whole, the problem is that Federal funds really don't make much difference for the average student. However, Special Education funding could also be cut. As those who have had to develop school budgets know, Special Education funding does not cover the costs of Special Education services in any school. Often the funding covers only about half of the real cost of services. If that is cut, then Special Education will be even more difficult to handle.
The good news for charter schools is that Ryan values results as the measure of a good education and education that is worth supporting. For example, he is in favor of reducing federal compliance under NCLB, if states show success in student achievement. In other words, results are valued over check boxes. This has long been the desire of charter school advocates. It also means that there could be more accountability for charter school success and closure of charter schools that do not perform. That's a good thing. Charter schools that don't perform provide fuel for the anti-charter school fire and often inhibit finding charter school models that really work.
Overall, it seems that while program cuts could hurt charter schools, Ryan's philosophy of education policy should provide support for charter schools and pressure on states to encourage forms of innovation and reduction of bureaucracy.