It’s time to end the charter school experiment.
Put successful charters under the supervision of the nearby school district. Charters not working well should close. No charter school should get tax dollars without oversight. This should be for both for-profit and nonprofit charter schools.
Charter School Scandals
On twitter, educators and parents can follow the Network of Public Education’s (NPE) #AnotherDayAnotherCharterScandal. Executive Director Carol Burris and her team also have several reports outlining how taxpayers lose their money to corruption involving charter schools.
More recently Burris and Jeff Bryant provided a new NPE report “Asleep at the Wheel: How the Federal Charter Schools Program Recklessly Takes Taxpayers and Students for A Ride” showing more proof that this nation wastes money on corrupt charter schools.
It is appalling we permit these schools to run without oversight.
A Recent Charter School Scandal
In California, eleven people responsible for an online charter school serving students in 13 charter schools were recently indicted on criminal charges of conspiracy. They put the money into their bank accounts instead of the schools! It looks like A3 Education bilked the public $50 million.
As this scandal continues to unfold, somewhere in California’s public schools, teachers are going without resources, schools lack counselors and nurses, and buildings are old and need remodeling or rebuilding.
But public schools will never see that $50 million again.
Last year, In the Public Interest did a report “Breaking Point: The Cost of Charter Schools for Public School Districts.” They describe how charter schools create a funding crisis for local public schools.
How many negative reports like this do we need? How many scandals must take place before we recognize that the majority of charter schools in this country are not working?
Good Charter Schools
Charter schools have not been innovative labs. They’re either strict schools that screen students and parents, and push those with disabilities and differences out, or unproven virtual schools.
It is unbelievable these schools get away with calling themselves “public” since there is nothing public about them.
But there are some good charters. Most of these are run by committed educators with education degrees who fill students’ academic and social needs. Some students might benefit from a smaller school with more personalized interactions with other students and educators.
Groups of teachers were supposed to run charter schools in Ray Budde’s original plan.
If these charters are running well, there’s no reason why they should not continue but also have oversight by the local school district.
Most school districts have always included alternative schools. A well-run charter school has little difference from a well-run alternative school. Both have freedom to try different creative approaches to learning.
Alternative schools, like some charters, are run by creative teachers and principals. They are given the freedom to help students who need an alternative way to learn.
But while teachers enjoy freedom to be creative with instruction, they still have the oversight of the school district.
If the term alternative school bothers some, use the word magnet.
Magnet schools are like alternative schools. They work under the oversight of the local school district.
Some parents don’t like that magnet schools are sometimes selective. Stuyvesant, a high school for gifted students in New York City, came under fire recently for its admissions process.
But as facts are analyzed it should become clear that parents and school boards can work out a plan for magnet schools that satisfies everyone. This is the purpose of a school board.
Magnet schools hold great potential for bringing students together.
In the meantime, how much money must be lost to charter schemes and corruption before America says enough?
It’s time to end the flow of tax dollars to unproven, unaccountable for-profit and nonprofit charter schools.
Americans must demand that they oversee how their tax dollars are spent. We must ensure that all students get a quality public school that provides them with a good education.