Too many charter schools are money making machines at the expense of students and tax payers. The money designated for children and teachers ends up in the pockets of others. The National Education Policy Center explains how this works. This is all about money.
by Meredith Machen
New Mexico’s League has become alarmed at the shift in funding from traditional public schools to charters. Too much charter funding is misused according to the National Education Policy Center.
Please see the chart below from the New Mexico Legislative Finance Committee which shows that from FY08 to FY15 charter schools received 46 percent of the change in funding while educating only 6.6% percent of all students. Over the last 7 years there has been a steady increase in funding for public education. School districts received about $114 million in additional funding while charter schools received about $98 million.
|Table xx: Change in Funding from FY08 to FY15 for Charter Schools and School Districts|
|FY08 Funding||FY15 Funding||Number of Students, FY15||Change Funding|
For the larger context, please see the report from the National Policy Education Center below.
The Business of Charter Schooling: Understanding the Policies that Charter Operators Use for Financial Benefit
Four major policy concerns are identified in the report:
- A substantial share of public expenditure intended for the delivery of direct educational services to children is being extracted inadvertently or intentionally for personal or business financial gain, creating substantial inefficiencies;
- Public assets are being unnecessarily transferred to private hands, at public expense, risking the future provision of “public” education;
- Charter school operators are growing highly endogenous, self-serving private entities built on funds derived from lucrative management fees and rent extraction which further compromise the future provision of “public” education; and
- Current disclosure requirements make it unlikely that any related legal violations, ethical concerns, or merely bad policies and practices are not realized until clever investigative reporting, whistleblowers or litigation brings them to light.
Recommendations to address these concerns are listed in the NEPC report. Charters should be public in more than name only. They financial data should be transparent, their facilities should be publically owned, oversight should be improved to include major contracts between EMOs and charters. More attention must be paid to open meetings, independence of boards and other agents involved in the charter schools, and funding oversight based on tracking the movement of students from school to school or for students with special needs must be improved to reduce gaming incentives.
While Circuit Court Judge Reynolds denied a request for a summary judgment to halt the voucher and tax credit scholarship programs, the Citizens for Strong Schools case continues. The judge ruled that the attorneys for the case did not show harm to the defendants due to vouchers and tax credit scholarships for private schools, but argument could be made when the case comes to trial in March, 2016.
The Florida Educational Association lawsuit was thrown out of court recently, as you know.
Another case, Citizens for Strong Schools, is working through the courts. It hit a bump in the road. In a December 7th article reported by the Associated Press, Judge Reynolds rejected a portion of the Citizen’s for Strong Schools lawsuit dealing with vouchers. The issue was lack of legal standing. What does this mean? What happens next?
We posted several analyses of the updated Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Current legislation, called the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), is on its way to the President’s desk. No Child Left Behind Act and Race to the Top are gone. What remains are annual testing requirements and support for charter schools. Responsibility for most education accountability reverts to the states. Thus, each state can determine how test scores are used for teacher evaluation, school grades and the Common Core.
States are required to identify schools with under performing students and help fix them. What this means is unclear. For a good analysis, see Education Week. Many provisions are subject to different interpretations. One thing is clear, citizens need to turn to their state legislatures to make reasonable, valid decisions about how test scores are used. Continued policies that force districts and teachers to focus instruction on ‘passing the test’ can be changed, if the voters insist.
Two more education bills have been filed. One extends Personal Learning Accounts for students with disabilities to cover school choice options among other things. The other revises accountability for schools and teachers.
Remember that this blog tracks 2016 bills. Go to the top of the Home Page and click on the Legislative Updates banner. It is the third one following Education Team Updates.
Sending public money to private schools is unconstitutional in Florida. The legislature gets around the law by allowing corporations to claim tax credits if they donate their tax obligations to foundations that provide scholarships to private schools.
We do not know much about these schools. They are shielded from disclosure laws public schools face. Evidently, at least someone in the DOE is watching. According to the Florida News Service, here’s one private religious school facing the loss of state scholarships.
Comparisons between traditional public and charter schools have little meaning. In an article entitled: Making School Choice Easier in today’s New York Times, charter school operators made concrete proposals to improve charter school achievement data.
Representatives of New Visions for Public Schools offer four ways to help parents make more informed decisions about the effectiveness of charter schools. New Visions are charter schools located in New York. They are non-profit.
Charter schools are not the only schools that try to correct one problem and create several others. Sometimes traditional public schools forget that all children deserve access to a quality education. When some students are systematically treated differently, it is time to ask why.
The Tampa Bay Times has been following a tragic example of schools that appear to have been forgotten and children who have been ignored.
Efforts to reward highly effective teachers are understandable. An expression comes to mind, however, about a road to….being paved with good intentions. We need to know where the road leads. The Tampa Bay Times published an article this morning that delineates flaws with the teacher bonus selection process. Of the state’s 172,000 teachers, Forty-two percent of Florida’s teachers earned ‘highly effective’ ratings in 2014; of these 5,200 qualified for bonuses of $8,500 each. Some who appeared to be qualified were left out. No one received the $10,000 initially promised. The amount of money the legislature allocated did not cover the cost. We should know where the money went. There may be unintended consequences. This program needs fixing.Continue reading