Here’s a compilation of recent headlines about charter schools across the country. As you read, keep in mind this is the direction the current administration is going with regards to charters and vouchers.
The Ohio State Auditor reported a charter school that was closed due to mismanagement in 2015 owes the state $340,000. “The shutdown, for mismanagement, came after the school had received its per-pupil aid from the Ohio Department of Education for the 2015-16 school year” (Columbus Dispatch).
Gene V. Glass, one of the nation’s most distinguished education researchers, wrote of parents applying to a charter school in Arizona. Parents who registered their child early for kindergarten received a letter of acceptance but in March were asked to fill out another form where they noted their daughter required speech therapy, which they did not indicate on the first application. They were then told the child was unaccepted and would need to reapply through an open lottery.
The principal of the Crescent Leadership Academy, a charter school in New Orleans, was fired after he was filmed wearing Nazi rings and participating in a “white genocide” tape. The students in the school are almost all African-American (The Root).
A judge in New Orleans found that Delta Charter violated the terms of the desegregation plan. The local school board in Concordia is seeking reimbursement of millions of dollars, and wants the judge to require the charter school to cancel its enrollment and create a plan of a more inclusive and diverse student body. The plan would include offering transportation to the school which would make it possible for more black students to attend (NOLA.com).
This story from South Carolina explains how foreign investors are buying green cards by investing in charter school construction, and the middlemen are raking in money at high interest rates. Specifically, Jared Kushner’s sister secured investments in Kushner real estate deals in Beijing, where she promised green cards to investors of at least $500,000.
Three Detroit-area charter schools are closing in June after years of low test scores. This will leave hundreds of families to find new schools before fall. Many of these families have not yet been notified (chalkbeat.org).
In California, the East Bay Times reports an audit released this week suggests Livermore’s two charter schools misappropriated public funds, including a tax-exempt bond totaling $67 million, and mainly pointed the finger at former CEO Bill Batchelor. According to the Times, the Tri-Valley Learning Corporation, “failed to disclose numerous conflict-of-interest relationships; diverted, commingled and/or misappropriated public funds, including tax-exempt public bonds totaling over $67 million with various private entities; and contributed to an environment of significantly deficient internal controls” (East Bay Times).
In Indiana, four private schools with a consistent record of academic failure were approved by the State Board of Education to begin accepting publicly funded vouchers for incoming students (WFYI). “The schools had been rated a D or F on the state’s accountability system for at least two consecutive years” (WFYI). Indiana Governor Holcomb recently signed a law allowing private schools to seek a one-year waiver from the requirement of reporting years of academic improvement to become eligible for the vouchers. The school is being rewarded for failure.
On Thursday, Florida Governor Rick Scott signed a controversial and contested bill awarding $419 million to grow charter schools in the state. According to the Miami Herald, “The bill will make it easier for privately managed charter schools to further expand in Florida and to receive additional taxpayer funding to boost their operations. It also includes a wide range of other provisions including daily school recess for most elementary school students and $30 million in extra funding to expand a voucher program that helps kids with disabilities.”
The Florida bill was in heavy opposition from public school advocates across the state and across the country. Superintendents, elected school board members, parents, teachers are concerned about provision in the bill forcing districts to share millions of local tax dollars earmarked for school construction. Before signing the bill, Scott said, “When I was growing up, I had access to a good quality education, and every Florida child should have the same opportunity” (Miami Herald). Define ‘good quality education’, Mr. Scott?
Diane Ravitch reported today that the New York State Senate is holding a deal to renew mayoral control unless NYC Mayor De Blasio agrees to allow more charter schools.
The Trump administration is pushing a plan to increase funding, fully support charters and vouchers – expand privatization to include vouchers, virtual schools, homeschooling, and other alternatives to public education all unregulated, and many for profit. All of this with very little research or evidence to support their success.
What’s happening in Washington, and across the country is disturbing. Politicians are promoting failed and discriminatory practices, and the implications of these failed practices will be felt far and wide, and for a very long time. What’s reported in the news consistently is a pattern of fraud, misappropriation of funds, discriminatory acceptance practices, and rewards for failure.
What’s happening in your state? Where do your elected officials stand on these policies? If you don’t know, it’s time to find out.