There's an important new report out today confirming what Fordham first helped unearth in 2005, and what charter school supporters and leaders have long known: public charters receive less funding than do district schools, by a wide margin. This new analysis pegs the figure at 19% less (per pupil), an average covering 24 states and D.C. (and thus 90 percent of all charter students in America). This amounts to nearly $2,250 per student?in other words, the 1.6 million charter school students in America are shortchanged collectively by billions of dollars each year.
There's no one single cause of this inequity?policies and funding practices at the federal, state, and local levels (in most places) all treat traditional district schools better than charters. But local funding is the chief culprit, as charters typically cannot access local levy revenues or facilities funding.
It's disappointing how little improvement there has been since this gap was first quantified in 2005. The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools and many other advocates have helped make it common knowledge that charter schools operate on limited resources, yet the gap stubbornly persists.
The research team of Batdorff, Maloney, May, Doyle and Hassel?several of whom led Fordham's 2005 effort?deserve enormous credit for this monumental undertaking (unearthing these data state by state is a big and thankless chore). Let's hope it has a big impact on budget conversations nationwide. It's true that we're in a time of tight budgets and, in many places, fiscal crisis. But that is no excuse for systematically favoring one set of students over another merely because their school does not contain the word ?charter? in its name. This is an inequity that must be fixed.