A familiar line in charter school promotional ads is that thousands of children are stuck in “failing public schools” while on wait lists to get into charters. Anytime a reporter digs in, the claim is not quite true.

Isaiah Thompson is an investigative reporter for WGBH in Boston. He heard the claim by pro-charter advocates of Question 2 that 33,000 students are on charter wait lists. So he checked the facts and found that the wait lists had duplicate names, children who had applied to more than one school, children who had been accepted in a charter school but whose names remained on the list, and children who were no longer waiting.

He discovered there are also wait lists to get into preferred Boston public schools, but no one ever talks about them.