Fordham hides from facts

UPDATE: Fordham has now published our comment on their site, for which we are grateful. See the comments to this article for their explanation.

The Fordham Foundation, one of Ohio's more vocal charter school boosters, has a post on their website defending the high number of failing charter schools. The piece is written by Aaron Churchill, someone we have observed stretching facts and the truth before (Fordham loses its bearings). Like his previous piece's error addled analysis, his latest defense of failing charter schools goes to great lengths to obfuscate hard truths using indefensible "statistical analysis".

Rather than write a post here on JTF, we tried to leave a long comment pointing out just some of the errors in the post. Fordham has decided they would rather that comment be hidden and not be published, so we are publishing it below, in response to a Fordham reader asking us to

Aaron states "The chart shows that a nearly equal number of charters reside in the state’s bottom 111 schools"

Let's just assume that is correct. What if utterly fails to recognize is that there are orders of magnitude more traditional public school buildings than charter schools - so the fact that so many charter school buildings appear in the bottom 111 should be disturbing to everyone, not glommed onto as a point of false equivalence. As an overall percentage of school buildings charter schools dominate the bottom rankings.

Let's look at another claim made by Aaron...

"The fact of the matter is that taxpayers spend less on each child in a charter school then is spent on their district peers."

That claim is contradicted by the Ohio Department of Education (link here:

"The average of total expenditure per pupil for public districts is $10,110.72.

The average expenditure per pupil for community schools is $9,064. When broken out: For e-schools it’s $7,027. For non-eschool community schools it’s $10,165.

So only when one combines the cost of the laughably cheap (and ludicrously underperforming) e-schools do Ohio's charters look inexpensive - and that's using ODE as a source.

Aaron did a good job, as all charter school boosters do, of obfuscating the facts - which is that the vast majority of Ohio's charter schools deliver a poor quality education at an inflated cost.

Let's close them down and concentrate our energy on the schools that 95% of Ohio's students go to, and maybe learn some things along the way from the few charter schools that are getting it right, instead of this constant non-debate and excuse making about the terrible charter schools we all know exist in very high numbers.

Fordham likes to hide behind their advocacy for charter school accountability and quality, but whenever they are pressed on this, they obfuscate the difficult facts and revert to defending the rotten and the failing. They may talk a good game, but in the end they are no less a charter school booster as White Hat owner, David Brennan. Mr. Churchill's post and decision to avoid a discussion on it are further proof of that.