Conservatives are often accused of being “science deniers” when it comes to issues like climate change. But recent events reveal that those on the left suffer from significant confirmation bias when it comes to a stance that is increasingly central to the liberal education agenda — opposition to charter schools.
In December, the Network for Public Education put out a report entitled, “Still Asleep at the Wheel.” The study purports to examine the prevalence of waste in the Department of Education’s Charter School Program, which provides resources for new charter schools to get started, or for existing charter schools to expand and improve.
The NPE report claims that a significant number of charter schools that received grants under the program never opened, or had already closed. But even a cursory look at the data revealed to me that at least three of the schools in my home state described as “closed” are very much open — indeed, they are among the top-performing schools in the city of Milwaukee. If they got that wrong, what else might there be?
Further examination of the report’s findings led myself and the president of School Choice Wisconsin, Jim Bender, to write a post for the Fordham Institutethat brought to light some additional errors. Indeed, at least 10 Wisconsin schools that the report claims are closed remain open. Christy Wolfe, vice president of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, identified similar errors in the identification of closed charter schools in California. Additionally, Nina Rees, president of NAPCS, pointed out that the total amount of money received by schools that never opened is likely to be far less than what is reported in the study because such schools are likely only to receive the planning portion of multi-year grants.