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Carol Burris: Five Reasons Why Charter Schools Can Never Be Reformed

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Carol Burris explains here why charter schools can never be reformed.

Here is reason number one.

1. Freedom from regulations and oversight through public governance has resulted in persistent and undeniable patterns of waste and fraud.

For the past year, the Network for Public Education, the nonprofit advocacy group of which I am executive director, has been tracking charter school scandals, posting news accounts here. Frankly, we have been shocked by the frequency and seriousness of scandals that are the result of greed, lack of oversight or incompetence. The independent California-based watchdog group, In the Public Interest, estimated alleged and confirmed fraud in California’s charter sector has topped $149 million, a figure it describes as “only the tip of the iceberg.”

Not even Massachusetts, which allegedly has the toughest supervision of the sector in the nation, is free of scandals. When public dollars freely flow without independent oversight, it is all too easy for dollars to find their way into employee pockets and bank accounts, for friends and relatives to get “sweetheart deals” and for school leaders to receive astronomical salaries that would be unheard of in public schools.

Although new regulations may decrease some abuse, private boards are insufficient to provide governance of the billions of taxpayer dollars that flow through the charter sector. Every serious legislative attempt to rein in abuse meets opposition from the charter lobby, which makes strategic donations to legislators to avoid accountability.

Read the article to learn the other four reasons.

I would add here that if freedom from regulation and oversight is the key to better schools, we should do it for ALL schools. But on its face, that’s a dumb idea, because the state needs to know how its money was spent. Except for charter qschools.

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