Mark Weber (a.k.a., Jersey Jazzman) authored a recent report for the Fordham Institute that showed that, contrary to what is commonly assumed, charter schools do not drain money away from traditional school districts. This is quite a surprise coming from Weber, given that he and his usual employer, New Jersey Policy Perspective (NJPP), have consistently taken an anti-charter school stance. For an excellent take on Weber’s Fordham report and past positions, see NJ Education Report’s blog.
As followers of Sunlight know, we have taken Weber to task in the past for his unsound research and cherry-picking of data (see here and here). As is well known, Weber is an NJEA member and the NJEA is a major funder of NJPP, so we deduced that Weber was starting with the conclusions desired by the NJEA and then cherry-picking the research to support the conclusions. His work for the Fordham Institute does not do this, and is a fair presentation of the data (he adds some caveats but his methodologies are sound).
Why the difference? Sunlight can only conclude that it depends who is paying him to do the research. If it’s NJPP, readers can count on a pro-NJEA slant and whatever methodologies it takes to get there. If it’s Fordham, then it’s a fairer, unbiased presentation of the data. We now know that Weber knows what sound research is. Will he start to provide it for NJPP as well?