In another great post, Bruce Baker explains the smokescreens that reformers use to divert attention from resource inequality.

One smokescreen is choice. The idea is that liberty should replace equality. But says Baker, choice is highly inequitable. “But these arguments are merely a diversion, sidestepping whether, when applied in practice, adequate alternatives are equitably distributed.

“One problem with this assertion is that variation in resources across private providers, as well as across charter schools tends to be even greater than variation across traditional public schools (Baker, 2009, Baker, Libby & Wiley, 2012). Further, higher and lower quality private and charter schools are not equitable distributed geographically and broadly available to all. At the extreme, in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina where traditional district schools were largely wiped out, and where choice based solutions were imposed during the recovery, entire sections of the city were left without secondary level options and provided a sparse few elementary and middle level options (Buras, 2011).

“Baker, Libby and Wiley show that in New York City, charter expansion has yielded vastly inequitable choices. Table 1 shows the demographics, spending and class sizes of New York City charter schools, by their network affiliation, compared to district schools. Most New York City charter school networks serve far fewer children qualifying for free lunch (<130% poverty level), far fewer English language learners and far fewer children with disabilities than same grade level schools in the same borough of the city. These patterns of student sorting induce inequities across schools. But, these schools also have widely varied access to financial resources despite being equitably funded by the city. Some charter networks are able to outspend demographically similar district schools by over $5,000 per pupil, and to provide class sizes that are 4 to 6 (or more) students smaller.”

Another is the claim that we are spending enough or spend too much.

As Baker writes, “Finally, an argument that reoccurs with some consistency in debates over the adequacy of education funding is that there exists little or no proof that adding more money would likely have any measurable positive effects. This argument hinges on the oft repeated (and as frequently refuted phrase that there exists “no systematic relationship between funding and outcomes.” This argument fails to excuse the facial inequity of permitting some children attending some schools to have twice or more, the resources of others, especially where, as in New York State, higher need children are the ones with systematically fewer resources.”