A group of Arizona reporters won a prestigious Polk award for their reporting on the profiteering and corruption in charter school management in Arizona. Read the post from Diane Ravitch.
Arizona Superintendent of Schools Diane Douglas announced she will recommend the curriculum standards for Classical Academy charter schools. They are sponsored by Hillsdale College, a conservative Christian college in Michigan that has gone into the charter business. It had to do something a few years ago because it was scandal ridden due to the sexual exploits of its president resulting in his son’s wife’s suicide. It is also the charter chain that Erika Donalds, a Collier County Florida school board member, personally supports. She has filed a proposal to open another one in Martin County. It’s the same chain that won its appeal to Florida’s State Board of Education to open a Classical Academy in Tallahassee this past week.
Florida’s State Board of Education Chair is no supporter of public schools. Marva Johnson advocated that Florida’s constitution be changed to allow public funds to support private, religious schools. Johnson was voted by SBE members to succeed Gary Chartrand. He is one of the financial supporters of KIPP charters in Jacksonville. He is also one of the major contributors to school board races. His candidates support charter schools.
There is a lot of money to be made from Florida’s charter schools. Almost half of the 650 charters are run by for-profit management companies that are subcontractors with the charter boards they help to create. Want to know about the inside dealings of Academica, Florida’s richest charter firm? Read the Miami Herald report. This story ran before Erik Fresen, Zulueta’s brother-in-law and former Florida legislator was arrested for forgetting for eight years to file his income tax returns. He already had been cited for conflict of interest in his role at Academica.
Large non-profit charter management chains have their own way of making money. Eva Moskowitz, head of the NY based Success Academies, made over $782,000 in 2016 to run 46 schools. The Superintendent of Orange County, Florida public schools runs 191 schools, but her salary is less than half of what Moskowitz earns.
Until Florida citizens demand change, too many charters will syphon off public tax dollars for private gain. When the money goes to charters, it comes from your children’s schools.
Are teachers leaving in droves? Some press releases predict the Armageddon in 2020 when the teacher shortage really hits. The baby boomer teachers will have retired, and student enrollments will peak. Curiously, we also read that there are twice as many elementary teachers now than we need. Yet, there are never enough ESE and ELL teachers. Florida is short on reading and math teachers too.
I went to the Bureau of Labor and the National Center for Education Statistics to see what I could see. I saw something. The problem is real just not everywhere. I tell you where.