Charter School Funding: Inequity in the City

Patrick J. Wolf Larry D. Maloney Jay F. May Corey A. DeAngelis:

One might assume that policymakers moved swiftly to remedy the injustice of charter school funding inequity revealed in the 2005 report. Sadly, that was not the case. We re-examined the charter school funding gap using data from 2006-07 and adding seven more states to our sample. In Charter School Funding: Inequity Persists, we reported that the gap favoring TPS stood at 19.2 percent nationally, only trivially smaller than the original gap of 21.7 percent. Even more concerning, a third study of 2010-11 revenue data identified the gap across an expansive sample of 30 states plus D.C. to average 28.4 percent more funding for TPS than charters, provoking the report title of Charter School Funding: Inequity Expands.11 All three of these charter school revenue studies have concluded that funding gaps are larger in urban areas, due to more local funding and categorical
funding earmarked for districts with disadvantaged students going to TPS than to charters, even though public charter schools enroll a high proportion of low-income students.

This report contributes to the school funding policy literature by taking a deep dive into the realities of charter and TPS funding in major urban areas across the country. We examine funding disparity levels from all possible revenue sources in 15 different metropolitan areas for the 2013-14 school year. We selected the locations based on either a high concentration of charters in the metropolitan area or potential for charter school growth there. Eight of them have been the subject of our prior funding research, allowing us to track their charter school funding gaps over time, as we do in a section of this report. The remaining six locations add greater diversity to our sample, as they are smaller and newer charter school communities. Together, our selected
cities represent a cross-section of the current and projected charter school enrollment across the country. We highlight differences in local, state, and federal public funding, as well as all nonpublic funding for the same locations. This study represents the latest evidence regarding remaining public charter school funding inequities with a focus on where charters are most common: in cities.

Madison spends far more than most taxpayer funded K-12 school districts.