Friday, December 12, 2008

Flawed Research: Buckeye Institute Report on Charter Schools

I guess if you can't prove a point, you can always "create" research and truth to further your cause.

Ohio Charter Schools Report False and Deceitful

Review finds financial analysis and claims are only shoddy propaganda

EAST LANSING, Mi. (Dec. 10, 2008)—A recent report from the Buckeye Institute claims to show that charter schools in Ohio are unfairly underfunded when compared to traditional public schools. A new review of the report, however, finds it is misleading and, in some instances, false and deceitful.

The report, Public Charter Schools: A Great Value for Ohio’s Public Education System, was reviewed for the Think Twice project by Dr. Gary Miron of Western Michigan University, a leading evaluator of states’ charter school programs.

Miron begins his review by noting that the financing of charter schools has long been controversial. Supporters of traditional public schools contend that charters receive too much money based on the students they educate and the services they provide. Charter school proponents claim that they receive less money than they should.

But fair analyses of school finance issues must seriously address the complexities of school funding formulas and of the many sources of possible school revenues. Meaningful research would also include the caveats, nuances and exceptions which would help readers to fully understand the issues. In contrast, Miron says, “the analysis from the Buckeye Institute does not list a single limitation in the data or provide a single cautionary note for readers.”

Even more troubling, however, are the outright errors in the report’s analysis. Miron demonstrates in his review that all of the report’s main contentions are wrong or misleading, but one claim drew particular criticism. The Buckeye report contends that the state’s largest school districts receive a net gain in revenue on average for each student attending a charter school—and that returning those charter students to the regular schools would actually cost the districts in revenue per pupil. This contention, Miron says, is “ridiculously false, deceitful, and patently misrepresent[s] how the funding of public schools works.”

In reality, Miron explains, “If charter schools closed and a large portion of students returned to district schools, [the district] would still receive the same amount of revenues per pupil. The only difference is that the state share of the overall district costs would increase—with a shift in public funding from the charters to the school districts.”

Overall, Miron finds the Buckeye report to be of the type that presents “only selected data or partial evidence that supports a particular position.” It is, he writes, “intended to advocate, obscure, and redirect attention rather than deepen understanding and insight” and consequently offers little to recommend it as useful to policymakers.

Find Gary Miron’s review on the web at:

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