Charter school advocates predict the great benefits that flow from deregulation, freedom from oversight.

For more than 20 years, they have boasted that great education benefits would flow from the removal of state supervision: The deal, they said, was give us freedom and hold us accountable.

While the charter industry boasts of its successes, no one has kept track of the number of charter schools that have failed or been engaged in fraud, nepotism, and corruption; it is not a small number.

Here is another sad story, where millions of public funds were lavished on a charter, and things turned out poorly.

Two women in Charlotte, North Carolina, had a dream of turning their small private school into a charter school.

And this is what happened:

For years they’d been trying to turn their small private school, StudentFirst Academy, into a charter that would reach more students. It had won praise from such leaders as then-Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory and then-Mayor Pro Tem Patrick Cannon, and recently earned state approval for a $3 million startup budget to become a public school.

Handford and Moss talked about a school where impoverished children would flourish in small classes led by master teachers. There would be arts and athletics, healthy meals and Latin classes.

“It is all about opening our doors to an academic wonderland that’s being funded by the government,” Handford said.

Less than four months after StudentFirst charter school opened, those dreams collapsed amid allegations of mismanagement, nepotism and financial irregularities. Overdue bills had the school on the brink of bankruptcy. Students were going without textbooks, losing teachers and taking long naps during the day, consultants reported.

The school’s board of directors fired Handford and Moss, who are now suing the board they once recruited.

It is not clear who is right and who is wrong.

What is clear is that this idea needed regulation, supervision, and oversight, like public schools.

Deregulation has its down side.

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