Charter School Audits: Not Good News

auditHow many struggling charters are too many?  The latest Florida Auditor General report is out.  It cites 92 (15%) out of 652 charters for general fund/unrestricted fund deficits.  In other words, they are spending more than they are taking in.  Six charters are in such bad financial shape, the report questions their ability to continue to operate.  When these audit reports come out, letters get sent and promises to do better are made until charters cannot pay their bills.

How many charters have failed in your district?

 

 

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POW! The League Says It Like It Is

money-40603_1280by Pat Hall

One of the most insidious parts of the charter movement is self dealing.  Many people are not aware of the millions of dollars charter management companies rake off the top in fees and real estate.  The Hillsborough League of Women Voters has been gathering data on Charter School USA profits.  The League is incensed.  Some states regulate profiteering; Florida does not.

Read Pat Hall’s article that appeared today in the Tampa Bay Times.  When I read it, I said:  POW!

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Detroit: Lots of choice, but no good choice

money-40603_1280The New York Times ran a story about Detroit.  The city is recovering from bankruptcy, but school choice has bankrupted its schools.  The story is told in human terms.  Your learn about a family trying to find a good fit for its four children.  They move from charter to charter, full of disappointment as hopes are dashed.  They are besieged by hype and gifts for recruiting, but the realities of too many schools from which to choose means that no school is very good.  This is a cautionary tale.  Detroit has the lowest achieving children in the nation.  Ten percent of its children graduate at ‘college ready’.

Michigan has less charter regulation than Florida.  Charters proliferate whether or not they succeed academically.  Eighty percent of its charters are run by for-profit companies. The fight with each other to get students.  By last winter, Detroit schools were bankrupt.  The legislature agreed to help, but it refused to support regulations to manage charter growth.

Are Florida’s teachers leaving in droves?

teacher-403004_1280 (1)In an Orlando Sentinel article, Scott Maxwell cites alarming state records.  Forty percent of Florida’s new teachers leave within five years.  This rate is 15 to 20% higher than the national average, he reported.  I found a U.F. report about charter school teacher attrition.  Something is going wrong.  We know that.  Will the legislature listen?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Pinellas to shut down 3 charters

money-40603_1280Yes, more fraud, waste and abuse that Florida must address.  The Pinellas School Board voted to shut down three NewPoint charter schools today.  Windsor Prep, East Windsor and NewPoint Pinellas are all involved in an indictment for fraud.  Read the Tampa Bay Times editorial.  The editor calls for an investigation of two other NewPoint related schools which also appear to be involved in self dealing with tax payer money.

The same charter management company is indicted in Pensacola for grand theft, money laundering and white collar crimes.

 

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A Charter School Sues Itself?

money-40603_1280Have you ever known something did not smell right, but you could not find the source?  A court in Missouri found it.

In Renaissance Academy for Math and Science vs. Imagine Schools, the court ruled there was hidden self dealing.  The judge fined Imagine Schools one million dollars.  This was just one school in trouble in St. Louis,  Missouri at the time.  Thirty-five hundred children had to be relocated when all Imagine charters were forced to close in St. Louis.

We all need to know how this can happen.  It is not unusual.

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Criminal Summons to Pinellas Charter Management Companies

money-40603_1280Newpoint Education Partners and its related companies in Florida are indicted on charges of grand theft, money laundering, and aggravated white collar crime.  According to the Tampa Bay Times, the company sold hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of classroom supplies and technology from closed charters in Escambia to its charter schools in Pinellas.  By law, these materials belong to the public school district when charters fail.

Newpoint managed Newpoint Tampa High School until it closed in 2013.  Currently, it manages five charter schools in Pinellas and three are in serious financial trouble:  Windsor Prep in St. Petersburg and two charters in Clearwater are in serious financial trouble.  All Newpoint charters are managed by thee same board members, and they were silent until the problems became public.  They are reorganizing, but the management company has gone silent.

Why the Florida legislature allows these charter mismanagement problems to continue is anyone’s guess.  Once in awhile, someone tries to get corrective legislation passed, but it must not be a high priority.  We have to keep trying.

 

KIPP Keeps A Secret

top-secret-1076813_1280In this repost from Diane Ravitch, one of the most troubling aspects of privatizing our schools is underscored…we do not know what is going on.  The business practices on charter management companies have always been hidden in a cloak of secrecy.  Why this is so in many states raises alarms.  Incidences of charter fraud, waste and abuse have been documented across the country.

Now we learn that the federal government is complicit in hiding information that most public schools must disclose.  Ravitch cites a report from the Center for Media and Democracy about disclosure protection for KIPP schools.  Under an arrangement with the U.S. Department of Education, KIPP does not have to report its student attrition and graduation rates.  Why not?  Based on older reports, the data are too revealing.  KIPP lost 40% of its students between middle school and high school graduation.

You can read more on KIPP in this blog.  KIPP is one of the largest charter chains.  A member of the Florida State Board of Education has brought two KIPP charters to Duval County.

Are KIPP Charters the Answer?  Depends upon the question…

Toeing the Line at KIPP?