Carol Burris is a retired high school principal and executive director of the Network for Public Education.

It has been a bad year for the charter school industry’s trade association, the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools (NAPCS). Their bitter campaign last spring to fight regulatory reform of the federal Charter Schools Program used the slogan “Back Off” to intimidate the President and Secretary Cardona. In the end, it was ineffective in stopping the regulations. While they claimed to achieve a few concessions, most of those related to issues that never existed in the first place. I estimate NAPCS spent upwards of one million dollars on the campaign, which included television ads.

As Republicans embrace school choice with the transparent motive of destroying community-governed public schools, Democrats have “backed off,” but not in the way NAPCS wanted. The latest poll by Ed Next, a pro-charter organization, found that only 10% of Democrats strongly support charters. Over twice as many Dems strongly oppose them. And overall support, even lukewarm support, for charters is only 38%.

And so, in desperation, NAPCS recently published a report entitled “Never Going Back” based on a poll they conducted. Its transparent purpose is to convince Democrats that not giving full-throated support to charters will cost them re-election in November.

Their poll data, however, is so profoundly flawed that it cannot be taken seriously. Frankly, it is an embarrassment for an organization that used to serve as the “go-to place” for information about charter schools.

Here is why.

First, NAPCS does not give full access to its survey questions and the possible responses from which respondents could choose.

We have no idea what the full array of survey questions was and what choices respondents had to pick from. This is critically important to allow the full expression of opinion. To illustrate, I provide a link to the full 2022 poll results presented by school choice advocacy organization, Ed Next.

While that survey has its own bias problems, it uses a full Likert scale to allow respondents to provide a nuanced response. Did NAPCS do the same? We don’t know. But given their outlier results, which I will discuss in greater detail later, it is doubtful.

Second, they oversampled parents of students in charter schools.

According to their report, 13% of respondents were charter school parents. But using their own figures from their 2021 report, Voting with Their Feet, only 7.7% of all students in either a public or charter school were charter school students. And that percentage excludes the number of students in private or homeschool settings, which means the percentage of all charter school students is likely lower than 7% of all American K-12 students. Although the percentage of families with a child in a charter school may be higher or lower than the number of students, a six percentage point difference is not credible. Such inflation, however, would undoubtedly skew responses in a pro-charter way.

It should also be noted that during this past year, public school enrollment increased from last year (although it is still down from pre-pandemic levels), and as we showed in this report, charter enrollment 2021-2022 is down; thus, the oversampling is worse than I described above.

Third, an examination of other polling data proves the fix is in.

Reliable polling results will differ by a few percentage points. For example, Ed Next’s recent poll reported that 52% of respondents give their community’s public schools a grade of A or B, while the recently released poll by PDK says that 54% give the two top grades–a record high. Results are aligned. Dramatic differences in polls taken closely in time raise alarms regarding the poll’s veracity.

Now let’s examine the NAPCS and Ed Next’s results on the question of school choice.

NAPCS reports that between 58% and 65% of parents strongly agree that parents should have school choice. Ed Next asks a nearly identical question—“Do you support or oppose school choice?” However, their percentage of parents who strongly agree is only 21%, a dramatic difference of about 40 percentage points.

Much like the school choice question, the NAPCS’ questions regarding support for charter schools are wildly out of sync with the Ed Next poll.

According to Ed Next, 51% of all parents somewhat or strongly support charter schools.

Yet NAPCS incredibly claims that 84% of parents (not interested in sending their own child to a charter school) support charter schools, and 77% of parents want more charter schools in their area. These results, in light of Ed Next’s data, defy logic.

 Much like NAPCS’s underreporting of charter schools run for profit, which we demonstrated in this report, NAPCS cherry-picks data to present charters in a favorable light. I guess one might argue that as a trade organization they are doing their job. Even so, their latest report is beyond the pale and does not deserve the attention of either the press or candidates this fall. And it further damages NAPCS’s already tarnished brand.