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Charter schools, funding, education management organization, equitable funding, expenditure patterns


Three decades after the first charter school law passed in the United States, myths about these public schools not only persist but continue to fuel strong claims and divisive debates. Commentators point to education management organizations (EMOs), for-profit organizations which manage or operate a network of charter schools, as examples of private entities supposedly profiting off public education.

In this report, we dispel three common myths about charter schools and their funding, spending, and management (see box). We draw upon comprehensive school funding data collected from traditional public schools (TPS) and public charter schools in 18 cities during fiscal year (FY) 2018. In a November 2020 report, Charter School Funding: Inequity Surges in the Cities, we demonstrated that the public charter schools in those 18 cities received on average one-third less funding than their respective TPS. Here we drill down deeply into those data to test claims about public charter schools and the myths surrounding them.