Another Flawed Charter School Study

A new national report claiming charter schools are inequitably funded contains a fatal fundamental flaw that makes all its conclusions useless for education policymakers.

Policymakers debating school funding should “Think Twice” as charter school proponents call for more “equitable funding” – by citing a fatally flawed national report with invalid conclusions. Read more to find out why policymakers should ignore it.



In April 2014, the University of Arkansas Center for Education Reform updated a national report titled Charter School Funding: Inequity Expands that claimed charter schools receive significantly less revenue than traditional public school districts. The report not only claims charter schools receive less revenue from local, state and federal sources, it also asserts that charter schools get less financial support from private and “other” revenue sources.

A Think Twice review by Bruce Baker of Rutgers University debunks the underlying assumptions and resulting conclusions of “Charter School Funding: Inequity Expands.”

Professor Baker produced the review for the Think Twice think tank review project of the National Education Policy Center (NEPC), with funding from the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.


Charter school supporters have used Charter School Funding: Inequity Expands as an opportunity to weigh in on public policies affecting school funding, between the time of the report’s release in April and well into May 2014. So-called community voices have cited information in the report to make the case, in a nutshell, that all schools – traditional public schools and charter schools – should be funded equitably.

In Minnesota, for example, Charter School Partners Executive Director Al Fan wrote in the Twin City Daily Planet May 6 that charter schools should “have access to the property tax dollars, particularly the operating portion of the levies.” In addition to Minnesota, the report has also appeared in mainstream media outlets beyond Arkansas, in states such South Carolina, Tennessee and Utah, as well as in national professional outlets.

What’s apparent is that charter school supporters are hoping to use the report as validation for more state funding as state legislative bodies deliberate on education budgets in preparation for the coming academic fiscal year.  

The Charter School Funding report contains several problems that should be identified and emphasized as policymakers, educators, teachers, parents and other stakeholders wade into the debate over school funding.

Find the brief on the Great Lakes Center website:

The mission of the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice is to support and disseminate high-quality research and reviews of research for the purpose of informing education policy and to develop research-based resources for use by those who advocate for education reform. For more information on the Great Lakes Center, please visit us on the web or follow us on Twitter or Facebook.

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