By Marshall Tuck: This year, we have a chance to help students and protect taxpayers across California, and I hope we don’t miss it. The California State Legislature is currently considering whether to ban for-profit charter schools. Educators — whether at district or charter public schools — can agree: public schools must serve students, not shareholders. Profit has no place in our public schools, and I urge politicians in Sacramento to make that the law.
For at least the last two decades, for-profit and non-profit charter management organizations have co-existed peacefully within the charter sector. However, since the election of President Trump and the appointment of Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, both staunch pro-charter supporters who worry less about the tax status of the operating entity and more about performance, the non-profit operators have been increasingly taking swipes at for-profit operators. They seem intent on ingratiating themselves to teachers’ unions, the archenemies of charters and choice, as well as to formerly influential groups like the NAACP. Perhaps they believe that aligning themselves with these anti-charter groups in opposition to for-profit operators they will be spared from attacks. A naive bunch for sure.
The charter school advocates on the panel seemed to agree that some charters weren’t working. They were quick to denounce for-profit charters, for instance. “For-profit operators have no business in education,” said Katie Duffy, CEO of Democracy Prep Charter School. Our children “are not assets and liabilities and they shouldn’t be treated as such.”
This article, which reads more like fake news than an actual piece of investigative of journalism, should be a wake-up call to all who support charters and choice. Opponents of charters will stop at nothing in their campaigns to slander and malign charter schools.
As the Trump administration plans to redirect taxpayer billions to privatize K-12 education, a scholarly article by some of the nation’s leading investigators of charter school rip-offs has highlighted how their business model is prone to fiscal self-dealing.
Turning around a charter school that hasn’t achieved its academic goals is always preferable to shutting it down, especially if the parents and students strongly support that school. That is exactly what’s happening in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
An Indianapolis-based charter school group which runs an elementary school in Baton Rouge is coming to the rescue of a larger but lower-performing charter school in town that, unless something changes soon, will close in May.
From the National Conference of State Legislature:
“While individual charter schools are all public institutions, and thereby not-for-profit, about one-third of all charter schools nationwide contract with nonprofit and, in some cases, for-profit organizations for school management and adminsitrative services. These organizations collect management fees from their network of charter schools, funds that come directly from the operating dollars alloted by state and local governments to charter schools. For-profit networks can earn a profit from management fees while nonprofit networks cannot.
Critics of for-profit charter networks contend these networks make their bottom line a higher priority than student success, focusing more on quantity of schools served than the quality of education provided. The companies, however, argue that for them to survive they must show high academic results or risk being fired by the independent charter school boards that oversee each individual charter school. Additionally, all public schools, including charters, are subject to state and federal accountability policies and are at risk of closure if their students perform poorly. All charter schools have an additional level of accountability as well in that they each have an authorizing entity that ultimately decides whether to keep open or close the school.
This all leads to the question: Does profit-status have any bearing on whether charter networks can and do provide a quality education to their students? NCSL brought voices from all sides of this debate together to explore this question and what it means for legislatures and policymakers around the country in this webinar.”