Defensive Charter School Advocates

August 1208:30 AM

Charter schools are privatized arrangements imposed on society by the rich and their retinue. There is nothing public about charter schools. Nonprofit and for-profit charter schools lack most of the features of public schools and typically operate as deregulated businesses.  Calling a charter school public is mainly for the self-serving purpose of illegitimately funneling vast sums of public money from public schools to wealthy private interests who own-operate nonprofit and for-profit charter schools. Charter schools are essentially pay-the-rich schemes masquerading as “innovations” that “save public education” and “give parents choices.” view article arw

If you are a parent residing in an urban or suburban area of Texas, it is likely that you have received promotional materials recruiting your child to enroll at a privately operated, charter school (“charters”). Charters are taxpayer funded, private organizations that the State approves to independently operate schools in community-based school districts. Despite it being your students, schools, tax dollars and communities, the State has unilaterally decided that a “dual education system”, consisting of locally governed, community-based school districts and State approved, privately governed charters, is best for local communities. The State has also conveniently and unilaterally decided to share the public education funding of local communities with privately governed charters. view article arw

Oklahoma’s Epic Charter Schools seems to be as creative in fraud as Ohio’s ECOT Epic gave the State Superintendent $23,000 in campaign donations. The Education Department did not investigate Epic’s fraudulent practices.   view article arw

in 2017, the state of Texas passed a law encouraging school districts to “partner with charter schools as a way to create more high-quality, innovative schools,” writes Aliyya Swaby in the Texas Tribune. Still, the bill that was passed—Senate Bill 1882—did not mandate the use of charters; it did incentivize shifting management of underperforming schools to a partner organization in exchange for additional state funding. view article arw

A private dispute between Georgia’s largest public school and the corporation that serves it has boiled over into public view, alarming parents who wonder whether their kids will be affected when school starts Monday.  The legal disagreement between K12 Inc., a national, publicly traded company, and Georgia Cyber Academy, an online charter school, has even caused the state to issue an ultimatum: K12 has until noon Friday to turn over any student records that might have been seized.  view article arw

Epic’s Texas plan halted

August 0208:41 AM

Epic Charter Schools’ expansion into Texas has been halted just a few weeks before the start of the new school year. On June 5, Epic announced it had a deal with iSchool Virtual Academy of Texas, a public charter school, to offer students there in grades 3-12 its blended learning model. iSchool Virtual Academy’s governing board approved the contract with Epic on June 14. view article arw

Tanaya Washington attended a KIPP Academy in South Bronx, N.Y. and is now an assistant principal at KIPP WAYS Academy in Atlanta. Three of Washington’s five children attend KIPP schools, and she was one of hundreds of KIPP alum who shared their experiences this week at the annual KIPP Summit as the charter school marks its 25th anniversary. view article arw

The Alabama Education Association (AEA) has filed a lawsuit through its members and affiliate in Washington County against Soner Tarim, a Texas-based man seeking to open a charter school in rural southwest Alabama.  Tarim is the CEO of Unity School Services and was the founder of Harmony Schools, a charter school network in Texas.   The lawsuit claims Tarim engaged in fraudulent conduct to conceal the extent of his involvement with the non-profit organization that is allegedly behind the creation of Woodland Prep, a charter school located in Washington County. view article arw

SALT LAKE CITY — More than $415,000 of funds within the State Charter School Board's budget will be set aside to cover state and federal special education funding owed to the state by the now-closed American International School of Utah under a proposal approved Thursday by the Utah State Board of Education.  Work is underway to find other funds to address the obligation, such as the sale proceeds of the school's buses, vans and other assets. view article arw

In 25 years, KIPP has grown from a program for fifth graders in Houston to a national network of charter schools, enrolling over 100,000 students in 20 states and Washington, D.C., including nearly 30,000 students in Texas. As more than 6,000 KIPP teachers and alumni gathered in Houston this week to mark its 25th anniversary, leaders with the charter school are planning more growth, including new campuses and a new focus on graduates.  view article arw

Despite growing popularity among Americans for school choice options, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed a bill that would have increased enrollment at two virtual charter schools in the state.  The legislation Cooper vetoed would have authorized the State Board of Education to remove enrollment caps for the charter schools as part of its pilot program.  view article arw

The charter school movement is currently in a “battle for survival,” National Alliance for Public Charter Schools president Nina Rees told an audience of supporters on Monday.  Proposed limits on charter schools in California, the cap on new charters in New York City, and lawsuits in Alabama to prevent charters from opening — all are threats to the future of the schools, she said.  “We need to start fighting back against the attacks far more aggressively,” she told attendees at the opening session for the National Charter Schools Conference in Las Vegas, and suggested that charter leaders need to both expand their reach and improve their messaging.  view article arw

Charter schools were once hailed by supporters as a way to save public education in big urban districts. Founders presented them as a way to offer low-income minority families safe, orderly schools with rigorous academics, and they were embraced across the country as a hopeful alternative. But charter school executives have recently started to acknowledge shortcomings, as questions about whether they are fulfilling their mission have mounted. Democratic presidential candidates have turned away from the charter movement. Last month, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the New York State Legislature would not raise a cap on the number of charters in New York City, halting the growth of the model in the country’s largest school system. view article arw

IDEA Public Schools (“IDEA”) is the fastest growing privately-operated charter school in Texas and its rapid expansion in local communities is funded and controlled by “special interests” that desire to “privatize” public education. With promotions of a “100% College Acceptance Rate” and students being “Accepted to the College or University of Their Choice”, a full-time staff is employed to advocate for IDEA in local communities and to aggressively recruit “economically-disadvantaged” parents dreaming of a better life for their children. Ann Landers said: “Rose-colored glasses are never made in bifocals. Nobody wants to read the small print in dreams”.  view article arw

From a political perspective that values equality and diversity, integrated schools are inherently good. Research also supports the notion that exposure to individuals from a diverse set of backgrounds has positive social and political benefits for a pluralistic society, and an expanding body of research attests to the positive consequences of school integration for academic outcomes. Yet schools remain highly segregated by race and class, in part because of the segregation of neighborhoods, which largely determine where students enroll. Public charter schools, which have dramatically expanded their reach since they were first established in 1992, now occupy a central role in the public debate over racial isolation in school, with advocates and critics pitching the schools as either a potential cure for, or a key contributor to, segregation. view article arw

News broke recently about what may be the single biggest charter school scam ever in which an online charter school organization is alleged to have bilked the state of California for $80 million by enrolling tens of thousands of students into their programs, often without the students’ knowledge, and charging the state for nonexistent education services and bogus expenses related to operating the schools. view article arw

Children’s Lighthouse Learning Centers plans to open a new 11,200-square-foot school in late summer across 2 acres at 2602 Jordan Ranch Blvd., Brookshire, near the Jordan Ranch community in the west Katy area, according to a press release. view article arw

The borderland’s newest campus of a Texas-based charter school chain will open in Horizon City next year. view article arw

The role of education in a society is to consciously pass on the accumulated knowledge of humanity to the next generation so that society keeps moving forward.  This is especially true in a modern society based on mass industrial production where all sectors of the economy are interdependent and large-scale in character.  Millions of highly-educated and skilled people are needed today to operate, organize, and develop a modern society and economy. Education is indispensable to the extended reproduction of society and the economic system, and goes beyond parents and “the kids.” view article arw

The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Department of Education’s law enforcement arm have also been probing Epic Charter Schools’ student enrollment practices and finances, public records obtained by the Tulsa World show. view article arw

 The founders of Oklahoma's largest virtual charter school embezzled millions of dollars in state funds through an illegal scheme that involved the use of "ghost students" to artificially inflate enrollment numbers, investigators allege. Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation agent Tommy Johnson outlined the allegations in an affidavit for a search warrant of an Epic teacher's home filed late Monday in Oklahoma County. Investigators seized a laptop and mobile phone during their search. view article arw

Part 3 of this 5-part series reviews the recruiting “sales pitch”, the alarming student attrition rates and the below average college graduation rates of various “College Preparatory” charters targeting “economically-disadvantaged” students across Texas. Privately-operated charter schools (“charters”) were originally promoted as an “education reform” to improve the educational opportunities of “economically-disadvantaged” students. In 1995, the State authorized charters to separately operate in community-based school districts with taxpayer funding. Since inception, the charter experiment has provided privately-operated charters with over $22 billion of taxpayer funding. view article arw

Charter schools associated with the Gulen movement are found in many states. They have many different names, like Magnolia, Harmony, Sonoran and more. There are more than 150 of them. If asked, they always deny that they are Gulen schools. The best source for identifying Gulen schools is the list of names compiled by Oakland parent activist Sharon Higgins. view article arw

This law journal article about the self-dealing and corruption in the charter sector was written by Professors Preston C. Green III, Bruce D. Baker, and Joseph Oluwole.  Since it was written, there have been so many examples of scandals, conflicts of interest, and outright theft of public dollars that this prediction seems remarkably prescient. view article arw

Texas passed its initial charter school legislation in 1995 and the state's first charter schools opened in the fall of 1996. It was Senate Bill 1 in the 74th Legislature that overhauled the Texas Education Code and gave the State Board of Education the authority to grant open-enrollment charter schools. The argument was that charter schools would be able to experiment and innovate outside of the rules and regulations of the independent school districts to find ways to improve education outcomes. The record in that area has been mixed. view article arw

Three small districts near El Paso passed resolutions opposing the dramatic expansion of the charter sector, which is driven by federal funds awarded by Betsy DeVos to the IDEA charter chain. As charter schools expand in El Paso, fueled by a sizable federal grant, three of the county’s smaller districts are hoping recent resolutions will prevent students from leaving and encourage lawmakers to do more to quell charter growth. view article arw

After weeks of negotiation, Gov. Gavin Newsom has stepped in to scale back proposed legislation that charter school advocates feared would radically slow charter growth. On Wednesday, the Senate Education Committee passed Assembly Bill 1505, which included a substantial number of amendments that Newsom’s office submitted after numerous discussions between his advisers and representatives of charters schools, organized labor and the bill’s author, Assemblyman Patrick O’Donnell, D-Long Beach.  The bill was approved by a 4-3 vote. view article arw

The charter Industry has one thing going for it. Guess what that is. Not superior academic results. No, its trump card is money. In this society, money is power. Politicians always are in search of money for their next campaign. Big donors always find open doors. Follow the money has become a precept more recognizable in this era than the Ten Commandments. view article arw

“We need to end the government monopoly in education by transferring power from bureaucracies and unions to families.” This sentiment expressed by Jeb Bush, 43rd Governor of Florida as well as son and brother to former presidents, reflects the reason the charter school movement began in Idaho. In the late 1990s, Idahoans recognized that all students learn differently and that parents know their children better than anyone else. It wasn’t that citizens and lawmakers hated traditional public schools. It wasn’t to start a competition to see who could create the “best” school. The foundation for Idaho charter schools was a desire to offer choices that helped all students grow and succeed. view article arw

Alabama is one of the new kids on the block when it comes to charter schools, having only passed a law allowing these schools in 2015.  Which says to many that we would be wise to take some lessons from states who have played the charter game much longer than we have.  Take Georgia for example.  They passed a charter law in 1994.  Like Alabama, they also have a state charter commission to oversee charter schools.  But unlike Alabama, the Georgia charter commission is becoming more cautious in granting charter applications and is actually giving first thought to students–not charter promoters– when approving applications. view article arw

I have published some posts recently about a report issued by a public education advocacy group about waste in the U.S. Education Department’s Charter Schools Program, which has provided funding for charters to open and expand since the mid-1990s. Charter supporters have taken issue with the report’s findings. The report, titled “Asleep at the Wheel,” detailed how up to $1 billion in federal funds have been wasted on charter schools that never opened, or opened and then closed because of mismanagement and other reasons. Published by the Network for Public Education, the report said the department — in both Republican and Democratic administrations — has not adequately monitored the use of its grants to charter schools, which are publicly funded but privately operated. view article arw

School districts across San Antonio have lost students to charter schools in recent years. But the enrollment declines started earlier and cut deeper in the city’s urban core. The San Antonio Independent School District has lost the most: nearly 6,000 students since 2009, according to a TPR analysis of enrollment changes over the past 10 years. The Edgewood school district west of SAISD lost an equally high percentage of its students. view article arw

A move to convert some prekindergarten classrooms into charters was finalized by the Dallas school board late on Thursday, but not before it drew sharp criticism from opponents. DISD trustees approved amended contracts with 10 preschool operators to create in-district charter campuses that run mostly free from district authority. Dallas is taking advantage of a new state law that gives districts more money if a campus is converted to a charter. view article arw

A controversial deal to convert some prekindergarten classrooms into charter campuses within the Dallas school district on Thursday again drew sharp criticism from opponents who say they worry about the privatization of public education. view article arw

Since Soner Tarim of Sugarland, Texas, has management contracts for both Woodland Prep and LEAD Academy charter schools, I watched with great interest when he appeared before the Texas Board of Education on June 14 trying to get approval to open eight new charter schools in Austin and Houston.  Board member Georgina Perez of El Paso cut him no slack. In fact, when the chair asked if she had any questions, she quickly replied, “I have six pages of them.” She only made it to page five before the chair asked her to let some other members have their shot. A former teacher, she is one of five Democrats on the 15-member panel. view article arw