NEPC Review: Charter School Funding: Dispelling Myths about EMOs, Expenditure Patterns, & Nonpublic Dollars (University of Arkansas Department of Education Reform, October 2021)
Charter School Funding: Dispelling Myths about EMOs, Expenditure Patterns, & Nonpublic Dollars is the latest in a series of reports from the Department of Education Reform at the University of Arkansas that purports to show charter schools are inequitably funded compared to public district schools. The report relies on a proprietary dataset to make its claims; however, the data conflict with publicly reported figures, and the methods used to create the dataset are not documented. The report’s analysis ignores several basics of school finance: Differences in student characteristics and school programming are not accounted for, categorical spending is conflated with potential profit taking from charter management organizations, and philanthropic giving is inadequately evaluated. The sparse documentation of the report’s methods, combined with basic flaws in its analysis frameworks, render it useless in guiding charter school funding policy.