CONSIDER THE SOURCE: New UA study on charter school funding "disparity."
The University of Arkansas
is touting a new "study" by the Walton family-financed
education "reform" unit at UA that propagandizes for charter schools
Finding: Charter schools receive less tax support than conventional public schools in all but one of the cities studied, including Little Rock.
The numbers should be "troubling," the Walton-backed researchers say, because "all public school children deserve access to the same amount of funding, regardless of which type of school they choose."
First, charter schools are not truly public schools. They are privately run schools that already get significant sums of public money and, in Arkansas, far less demanding oversight. Their business dealings are not transparent. They don't have elected school boards. They typically educate fewer special ed, impoverished and non-English-speaking students. They can "out-counsel" troublesome students, something that real public schools may NOT do.
The funding gap comes because conventional public school districts enjoy local property tax support. Approved by voters. Spent by a publicly accountable school board. The charter cheerleaders seem to think their favored schools should get a share of that money, too. All of the pleasure, but none of the accountability.
Do charter schools have equivalent transportation, food service, curriculum, counseling, services for disabled, extracurricular activities, qualified teachers? (Precious few with football, I'd bet.) Save that for another study.
A bigger share of public riches is the aim of the charter school cartel. New Orleans
and its public school resources have been charterized
. Memphis largely, too. (There, charters actually get more support, thanks to private contributions, and results have been, as the Commercial Appeal put i
t recently, "spotty.") 2015 legislation in Arkansas — barely beaten back — would have allowed turning the Little Rock School District
over to private operators, who could have then "shared" in the tax-financed resources voted by district taxpayers for real public schools, not profiteers, without democratic oversight.
The UA publicity blurb quotes a survey author as finding it "surprising" charter schools must get by with less "despite charter schools’ increased popularity and demonstrated positive effects on student outcomes." I don't, not given the divergent circumstances, plus research that takes exception to the suggestion of superior education in charter schools.
Watch closely. The Walton crowd isn't done trying to wreck the Little Rock School District and they have the taxpayer-backed PR unit in Fayetteville to help. See also: Their recent investments in Little Rock charter school buildings (no-interest Walton loans are something real public schools don't enjoy) and Education Commissioner Johnny Key's
support for their cause.