Federal State Education Agency (SEA) grants awarded for charter development in Florida reached $67, 644, 267 over four years. A federal Office of the Inspector General audit could not find the money. The report stated that there was not “a reliable universe of charter schools that received and spent funds”. The Florida Charter School Division awarded the funds to the charter school startups but had no mechanism to track them. It is no wonder that charter schools open and close so fast. Operators can receive up to $300,000 just to open a charter, and there is no way to find the money if they suddenly close.
No doubt that making laws is easier than finding funds to implement them properly. Reaffirming that the public interest is more important than the financial opportunities for legislators and their supporters cannot be ignored. Districts need to be empowered to monitor and correct charter mismanagement. The Commission on Ethics needs some teeth so that it will sting when violations occur in the legislature and other public entities. The Miami Herald’s series on “Cashing in On Kids” outlines the problem. It is time to curb for-profit management of schools. Other states have done so.