New Mexico Proposes Better Charter Management

nm2The New Mexico legislation has strong provisions relating to the charter school management and facilities.  SB 236 Beffort strengthens these provisions.  The proposed bill is instructive because it highlights corrective measures to improve the regulations and oversight of charter facilities and conflict of interest.

These proposals can inform the regulations in other states.

 

Continue reading

New Mexico to Audit Teacher and School Evaluations for Validity???

legislation1You can think of this bill SB 263 by Howie Morales as the “It is time to check the checkers” bill.  It appears that some legislators want real data with valid results.  It has just been introduced, so passage is a ways off.

The summary of the bill states that the “State Auditor shall adopt quality and accuracy audits of teacher evaluations, merit pay, and school ratings conducted by the Department of Education.  Look at what the auditor be required to do.  It will bring a smile to many.  It makes me think that others have read “Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics”.

 

Continue reading

Better to light one candle than to curse the darkness

by Pat Drago and Sue Legg

foggy-545838_1280

 

This is not an easy walk into the woods, but you need to know where the funding for charter schools comes from and where it goes. It is your money.

There is a lot money to be made and lost with charter schools, and it is public tax dollars. As usual, independent schools tend to lose it, and large charter management chains come out on top.  This is not always to the children’s benefit.  How does this happen? We looked at the audits and found huge disparities in facility and fee expenditures. This meant that instructional parts of the budgets were reduced accordingly.

We wanted to know how these facilities were financed. If State funds were creating opportunities to make real estate venture capitalists wealthy, we wanted to know how this worked. Unfortunately, public dollars that go to private companies are hard to see. The lack of transparency for their financial records provides only vague outlines. We did find some clues by looking at how facilities are financed.

We wondered what other states were doing to ensure that state money was allocated for instruction and not for profit making ventures. We found some answers. As always, different approaches have their share of unintended consequences. As we groped in the darkness, there was a glimmer of light. The brave among you are invited to go down this path with us.

Continue reading

New Mexico Charter School Power Struggle

face-535769_1280

Need Oversight

by Meredith Machen

This is an updated post of the struggle between the Public Education Commission (PEC)  and the New Mexico Public Education Department (PED) over proper supervision of charter schools.   The PED is not responding to State auditors’ requests for information following a federal investigation of charters there.  Continue reading

Understanding New Mexico

nm2by Meredith Machen

New Mexico is a beautiful state.  It is also known in politics as a swing state.  It has a Republican Governor, and the Democrats just lost a majority in the legislature.  The people have an interesting history.  While the majority are primarily Hispanic, most claim a Spanish or native American heritage and have lived there for centuries.

Thirty-six percent of the school age children speak a language other than English at home compared to 20.1% nationwide. The per capita income in most NM communities is below the state average of $22,966 and the national average of $27,334.  A University of New Mexico Center for Education Policy Research report provides detailed statistics, by county, of social and economic concerns that the New Mexico schools face.Continue reading

New Mexico: State auditor blasts Public Education Department over charter school oversight

from Meredith Machen, New Mexico

Charter school oversight problems are rampant.  In today’s New Mexican the State Auditor revealed a serious lack of oversight of charter schools  by the State Public Education Department (PED).

horn mages

At issue was charter school financial mismanagement and conflict of interest.  The Auditor charged that the PED was unresponsive even though the school was raided by the FBI in August.  This case highlights the struggle between local school districts vs. state control of the charter authorization and oversight process.  This is only one of 18 cases nationwide of charter educational management firms nationwide that the U.S. Department of Education, the FBI, SEC, and IRS are investigatingContinue reading