Alan Singer: How Charter Schools Buy Political Support

Alan Singer pulls together the threads of charter school corruption across several states in this post. The corruption is pay-to-play. Give money to a politician and turn him or her into your advocate. Florida presents a different twist on the story: charter owners and employees and family members are elected legislators who shamelessly vote to enrich themselves. In Ohio, charter owners contribute to legislators who then turn on the money spigot and shower their benefactors with riches. In New York, Governor Cuomo accepts millions from billionaires who love entrepreneurial schools and hate public schools–and Voila!, Cuomo becomes a charter champion.

“In Arizona charter schools routinely receive exemptions from state oversight requirements, despite a history of misusing tax dollars. They also receive over 25% of state education funds, although they only enroll 15% of Arizona’s school age students. The right-wing Republican governor of Arizona was accused by the even further right-wing elected Superintendent of Arizona schools of establishing a “shadow faction of charter school operators” committed to “moving funds from traditional public schools to charter schools.”

“The reasons for the lack of accountability and the disproportionate state funding are examined in a report by Arizonians for Charter School Accountability. Among other things, they found that Benjamin Franklin, a for-profit charter school, is owned by Arizona State Representative Eddie Farnsworth (R). In 2016, the charter school spent $155,106 more on facilities than on classroom instruction. It leases its schools from LBE Investments, a for-profit real estate company also owned by Farnsworth.

“Arizona has a state board that grants charter status to “qualifying applicants” and is supposed to “oversee charter schools.” The President of the board is a political lobbyist who defines her role as promoting school “choice” and “sponsoring charter schools,” not regulating them. The Board Vice-President is founder of a charter high school. Other members include the operator of a charter school, a charter school teacher, a lawyer for charter schools, a building company CEO who also serves on the Board of Directors for the local Teach for America chapter, and the CEO of a charter school network.”

For the links, open the article.

In Atlanta, teachers were sentenced to prison under the RICO statute (racketeering) for cheating on tests and are out on appeal.

When, if ever, will public officials round up the criminals who are engaged in buying influence for the enrichment of charter schools? In too many states, the public officials who should enforce the law are charter operators or receive millions from charter operators. The charter industry starts to look like the Tweed Ring. Will it clean up its own act or is public corruption now woven into its fabric?

from novemoore


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