A recent University of Arkansas Department of Education Reform report concluded charter schools receive less funding than traditional public schools across the country.
But that study only looked at revenue, argues Rutgers University researcher Bruce Baker in a new National Education Policy Center review, and ignores the complex financial relationships between school districts and charter schools. Public school districts often must pay for transportation, special education, food and other services for charter schools. Sometimes, the district receives money only to pass it on to a charter school.
Baker looked at how much traditional public schools and charter schools spend on students and found the gap was usually smaller than the University of Arkansas researchers found. In some places, such as Bridgeport, Connecticut, charters schools spent more per student than district schools.
“Simply put, the findings and conclusions of the study are not valid or useful,” Baker wrote.
The University of Arkansas researchers found Florida charter school students received $2,130 less than their district school peers. Baker didn’t look at the Florida numbers, but delved into school district finances in Connecticut, New York, New Jersey and Texas in his critique.
He found Newark, New Jersey charter schools received about 80 percent of district schools — about half the difference the University of Arkansas researchers found. The gap was smaller in New York City and Connecticut schools as well.