Here is Jeff Bryant’s take on the Baker-Miron report on the Charter Gravy Train.

 

In one of the more bizarre schemes the authors examine, charter operators will use third-party corporations to purchase buildings and land from the public school district itself, so taxpayer dollars are used to purchase property from the public. Thus, the public ends up paying twice for the school, and the property becomes an asset of a private corporation.

 

In other examples, charter operators will set up leasing agreements and lucrative management fees between multiple entities that end up extracting resources, which might otherwise be dedicated to direct services for children.

 

These arrangements, and many others documented in the brief, constitute a rapidly expanding parallel school system in America, populated with enterprises and individuals who work in secret to suck money out of public education.

 

Charter Schools Aren’t Really ‘Public Schools’

 

The first secret of charter schools that keeps their financial workings hidden and their funding prone to exploitation is that they aren’t really public schools, despite what charter advocates say.

 

As Baker and Miron explain, charters generally aren’t subject to the same disclosure laws that apply to state operated entities and public officials, especially when the governance bodies for these schools outsource management services to for-profit management firms, as is increasingly the case.

 

As the brief explains, outsourcing school operations to private entities has the potential to make transparency laws – for open meetings, public access to records, and financial disclosures by public officials and state operated institutions – subject to court interpretation. Courts across states have offered mixed opinions as to whether and to what extent to apply transparency laws to charter schools, their authorizers, operators, and governing boards.

 

Further, the public-private arrangement of charter schools often place new limits on the constitutional (and some statutory) protections that are customarily guaranteed to school employees and students in state operated institutions.

 

These important differences between charter schools and traditional public schools are not generally understood or appreciated by even the most knowledgeable people, which is why charter advocates put so much energy and resources in marketing their operations as “public” schools.