Yes, there are charter schools that serve all kids. Yes, there are good charter schools that are not trying to drive the public schools out of existence.

But then there are the profiteers, who have spotted the charter industry as a chance to make money.

Surprise of surprises, this critical review of the profiteers appears in Forbes magazine. Fat City, indeed!

Regular readers of this blog know some of these stories. They know about green cards for foreign nationals who invest in charter schools. They know about the New Market Tax Credits. They know that sports figures without any educational qualifications are opening charter schools instead of summer camps. They know that the online corporation K12 pays its CEO$5 million, but did you know his pay is tied to recruitment, not to academic performance?

A few more new items:

“Charter schools are frequently a way for politicians to reward their cronies. In Ohio, two firms operate 9% of the state’s charter schools and are collecting 38% of the state’s charter school funding increase this year. The operators of both firms donate generously to elected Republicans.”


“The history of publicly traded charter school firms is limited and ugly. Edison Schools traded publicly from 1999-2003. During that period, it reported one profitable quarter. Shares reached nearly $40 in early 2001… only to crash to 14 cents.”

And this:

“For now, the big money in charter schools is confined to those on the inside. In late 2010, Goldman Sachs announced it would lend $25 million to develop 16 charter schools in New York and New Jersey. The news release said the loans would be “credit-enhanced by funds awarded by the U.S. Department of Education.” Of course.”

And this:

“In Florida, the for-profit school industry flooded legislative candidates with $1.8 million in donations last year. “Most of the money,” reports The Miami Herald, “went to Republicans, whose support of charter schools, vouchers, online education and private colleges has put public education dollars in private-sector pockets.”

But, as the article says, both Democrats and Republicans have joined the game.