Written and edited by Norm Scott:
EDUCATE! ORGANIZE!! MOBILIZE!!!
Three pillars of The Resistance – providing information on current ed issues, organizing activities around fighting for public education in NYC and beyond and exposing the motives behind the education deformers. We link up with bands of resisters. Nothing will change unless WE ALL GET INVOLVED IN THE STRUGGLE!
state after state, charter schools are proving that it is downright
risky to turn public money over to deregulated corporations and
unqualified individuals to run schools. The Detroit Free Press series
on the scams, frauds, and corruption in many Michigan charters was an
eye-opener for all those who are not part of the charter movement. The exposé of similar frauds
in Florida by the League of Women Voters in Florida was enlightening to
anyone other than free market ideologues. The same level of
corruption--actually, even worse--exists in Ohio's charter sector,
where a small number of charter founders have become
multi-millionaires, run low-performing schools, and are never held
One of the most colorful charter scandals occurred when a Cleveland charter operator was tried
for funneling over $1million to his church and other businesses. The
charter founder was a pastor, not an educator. His attorney said "“his
client had good intentions when opening the school on East 55th Street
but then got greedy when he saw easy opportunities to make money…."
The leader of California's most celebrated charter school,
with outstanding test scores, stepped down when an audit revealed that
nearly $4 million had been diverted to his other businesses.
In Arizona, the Arizona Republic exposed charters that were family businesses, giving contracts to family members and board members.
In Chicago, the head of the city's largest charter chain
resigned after the media reported large contracts given to family
members of school leaders and other conflicts of interest and misuse of
week, one of Connecticut's most celebrated charter organizations was at
the center of the latest scandal. Its CEO was revealed to have a
criminal past and a falsified résumé. Two top executives immediately
resigned, and legislators and journalists began to ask questions. No
background checks? Accountability? Transparency?
Colin McEnroe wrote in the Hartford Courant's blog that
hustlers were cashing in on the charter school craze. Not just in
Connecticut, but in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, California, Ohio,
Arizona, on and on.
message is always the same: The essential concept behind the charter
school movement is that, freed from the three Rs — restraints, rules and
regulations — these schools could innovate and get the kinds of results
that calcified, logy public schools could only dream about. And they do
handing out uncountable millions to operators who would be given a free
hand was also like putting a big sign out by the highway that says
"Welcome Charlatans, Grifters, Credential-Fakers, Cherry-Pickers,
Stat-Jukers, Cult of Personality Freaks and People Who Have No Business
Running a Dairy Queen, Much Less a School." And they've all showed up.
This is the Promised Land: lots of cash and a mission statement that
implicitly rejects the notion of oversight.....
else goes with those big bubbling pots of money? A new layer of
lobbyists and donation-bundlers. The Free Press documented the way a
lawmaker who dared to make a peep of protest against charter schools
getting whatever they want suddenly found himself in a race against a
challenger heavily funded by the Great Lakes Education Project, the
"powerhouse lobby" of the Michigan charter movement. Jon Lender of The
Courant recently showed how one family of charter school advocates had
crammed $90,000 into Connecticut Democratic Party coffers."
If there were more investigations, more charter scandals would be disclosed.
When will public officials call a halt to the scams, conflicts of interest, self-dealing, nepotism, and corruption?
is one defensible role for charter schools and that is to do what
public schools can't do. There is no reason to create a dual school
system, with one free to choose its students and to cherry pick the best
students, while the other must take all students. There is no reason to
give charters to non-educators. There is no reason to allow charter
operators to pocket taxpayer dollars for their own enrichment while
refusing to be fully accountable for how public money is spent. Where
public money goes, public accountability must follow.