The Center for Education Reform released an analysis of 2006 charter school funding , claiming that charters receive 39 percent less funding than district schools, on average. That's a huge, unfair difference, if it's true.
But is it? Fordham's own such analysis three years ago found gaps that were very troubling, but only about half that size--22 percent on average. True, we only reviewed some of the states, and CER hits them all, but even state-by-state there are big variances. So who's right? If you were hoping for a nerdy data discussion this Friday, you've now found it, as I have a few major concerns about their work.
First, it's worrisome that they rely on a 2006 "Charter School Survey" for some of their data. Did they literally ask schools how much money they received ? Three years ago, Fordham's team found that the only way to get reliable charter information in many states was to unearth school-level audits and add them up. Any good analysis needs to involve something equally rigorous.
Second, it's a huge red flag that they cite the U.S. Census Bureau for district-level data. Our team found its district funding data often included some charter school funding, overstating the actual district-only budgets. These funds couldn't be separated out, making the data worthless.
Third, even accurate district data needs to be purged of certain revenues, like those for adult education, pre-K, or other programs outside of normal K-12 education,...