Deregulation sounds like a swell idea. Get rid of all those government regulations and innovation will flourish. That’s the theory.
But many regulations serve important purposes, especially where taxpayer dollars are concerned; they screen out unqualified people; they monitor how the money is spent; they prevent frauds and scams. Take away regulation, take away government oversight, and the door will be open to the greedy and the opportunistic.
We saw that in the financial sector, where companies like Enron and Madoff used lax regulation to profit at the expense of investors.
When the same ideas of deregulation are imported from business to education, the conviction that an unfettered market will unleash innovation and success–the results are predictable. We should know by now that these principles don’t work in education (and some would argue that the spectacular collapse of the economy in 2008 proved they don’t work in business either.)
What the unfettered free market allows into education is unqualified leadership and lax oversight. How can anyone argue that this strategy will improve education? A few schools may prosper but many will flounder and fail.
Here is the story of FCI Academy charter school, which was founded by Bishop Edgar Allen Posey, his wife, and a third person. The campus is on the grounds of Bishop Posey’s church, the Living Faith Apostolic Church in Columbus. The school was in financial trouble, and it fired 17 staff members. It plans to open again this fall.
The fired teachers were skeptical:
“Some of the laid-off teachers doubted that kids will be getting a quality education next year at FCI.
“It’s just been mass chaos,” said Tina Geygan, who is one of the teachers let go. “We were having kids drop out like flies.”
“Annette McFarland, a middle-school science teacher at FCI who also was laid off, said she can’t see how the school could reopen in the fall.
“Just my own personal opinion, but I don’t know how they can,” having lost so many of the staff members, McFarland said.
“Blair Miller, who taught at the school under a one-year substitute-teaching license, said he can’t imagine the school hiring anyone for less than the former staff members were making. The father of three made $25,000 a year, putting him close to officially living in poverty.
“You can’t pay very much lower,” said Miller, 25, who took the FCI job right out of college with an education degree. “I’m going to be honest with you, I was hired to be paraprofessional, but I was teaching a full-time class.”
“Miller taught middle school language arts and math, he said.
“According to its 2012-13 state report card, FCI spent 44.8 percent of its revenue on classroom instruction, compared with a state average of 67.5 percent. The school met 6 out of 24 state performance standards, earning an F. It scored a D on its performance index, which gives credit for how many students scored well on proficiency tests despite the overall standards met.”
Bill Phillis of the Ohio Equity and Adequacy Coalition explains here what the failure of the FCI Academy charter school means for Ohio.
“FCI Academy charter school is another poster child to prompt state and federal agencies to expand investigations to all charter schools
The July 25 Dispatch article-Charter lays off 17 but plans to reopen-is about a charter school in financial trouble, but accompanying details in the article signal a need for a full-scale investigation.
FCI charter school is on the campus of Living Faith Apostolic Church in Columbus. It was founded by the Church’s leader, his wife and one other person. The Church leader’s wife is president of the school’s board. There may be something wrong with this picture. It doesn’t pass the smell test-Church leader’s wife is president of the board and the school is housed on Church property. 3314.03(A)(11)(c) of the Ohio Revised Code states: “The school will be nonsectarian in its programs, admission policies, employment practices, and all other operations, and will not be operated by a sectarian school or religious institution.”
In recent weeks the Horizon Science Academies, managed by Concept Schools, a Gulen Islamic-associated company, has been the target of state and federal investigations in Ohio and in many other states. Investigations should be extended to all charter schools beginning with the for-profits, such as White Hat, ECOT, Ohio Virtual Academy operated by K-12, Inc. and Imagine Schools.
Charter schools in Ohio spent over $900 million of funds belonging to public school districts. In most cases, there has been scant scrutiny of these publicly-funded, private, and in most cases, secretly-operated quasi-education organizations. It is time for ODE and the sponsors of these charter schools to give taxpayers the facts about these stealthy operations.
The governor’s office and the Ohio Department of Education, who have recently been concerned about four teachers and their role in exposing alleged illegal practices at a Dayton Gulen charter school, also need to explain how the FCI Academy is compliant with state laws that govern the formation, operation, and performance of schools that serve Ohio children. Hopefully the answer citizens receive about these questions is as swift as the attacks generated by the governor’s office and ODE on the four courageous charter school teachers and their role as whistleblowers.”
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