Bruce Baker and Gary Miron have written an important new study of the business of charters. It was released overnight by the National Education Policy Center at the University of Colorado. The report proposes regulation of charter schools to remove the corruption and money-making that is currently an embarrassment to the charter sector. So far, so good. As I have told the authors, I don’t agree with their proposal that states declare charter schools to be public schools and to regulate them as public schools. Several states already have labeled them public schools and don’t regulate them. In those states where the governor and the legislature have been captured by charter industry financiers, it is not likely that there will be either regulation, transparency, or accountability because the lobbyists will never accept it. Nonetheless, this is an important report because it lays out the specific ways in which charter operators have gamed the system for the sake of lucre.


The Lucrative Side of Charter Schools


New report puts first pieces together on how charter schools are profiting through the privatization of public assets



William J. Mathis, (802) 383-0058,
Bruce D. Baker, (848) 932-0698, Gary Miron, (269) 599-7965,


URL for this press release:


BOULDER, CO (December 10, 2015) – Charter schools are educational providers, but they are also businesses. A large portion of them are run by private corporations, and receive taxpayer dollars to provide their services. Yet there is very little public understanding of the often- convoluted ways these companies use those dollars and take advantage of laws in ways that enrich owners, officers, and investors.


A new research brief from Bruce Baker and Gary Miron details some of the ways that individuals, companies, and organizations secure financial gain and generate profit by running charter schools, leading them to operate in ways that are sometimes at odds with the public interest. In The Business of Charter Schooling: Understanding the Policies that Charter Operators Use for Financial Benefit, they explore the differences between charters and traditional public schools, and they illustrate how charter school policies sometimes function to promote profiteering and privatization of public assets.


The authors explain, for example, how charter operators working through third-party corporations can use taxpayer dollars to purchase buildings and land. The seller in these purchases is sometimes the public school district itself. That is, taxpayer dollars are used to purchase property from the public, and the property ends up being owned by the private corporation that operates or is affiliated with the charter school.


“This particular type of transaction is usually legal and it can be very logical from the perspective of each of the parties involved,” said Baker. “But we should be troubled by the public policy that allows and even encourages this to happen.”


“In addition,” Miron explained, “less than arm’s-length leasing agreements and lucrative management fees are extracting resources that might otherwise be dedicated to direct services for children.”


The authors conclude with eight recommendations for policies to help ensure that charter schools pursue their publicly established goals and that protect the public interest.