Over the past 25 years of experience with charter schools, we have learned that they claim to be public when it is time to get the money, but in all other respects, they are private. Their management is private. They are exempt from many of the laws and regulations that govern public schools. They do not report to an elected board, or to a board that is in any sense accountable to the public or transparent. At least 90% are non-union.

Tom Ultican, a retired teacher in San Diego, saw that the director of communications for the California Charter Schools Association, the most powerful lobby in the state, wrote a letter to the San Diego Free Press, saying that they had been unfair to charter schools and that their stories contained many inaccuracies, although he did not identify any.

Ultican took him to task for his failure to document any inaccuracies and wrote:

Unfortunately, charter schools have become profit centers for real estate developers and charter management organizations. Instead of fulfilling their original mission to be education innovators, they have too often become fraud infested enterprises lusting after tax dollars. It did not have to be this way…

Calling charter-schools public-schools is false. It is political spin. That is too nice. It is a lie.

When the city of San Diego contracts with a construction company to repair roads, that company is still a private company. When the state of California approves a contract, known as a charter, with a private company to educate students, the company gets paid with tax dollars. It is still a private company and is not required to comply with open meeting laws, elected school boards, much of the state education code and budget transparency like a public school. They are private businesses.

This lie is very profitable to charter school owners:

Whether they are for-profit or non-profit they are private companies and the distinction between for-profit and non-profit is quite obscure. For example, Mary Bixby, San Diego’s pioneer in the strip mall charter school business, puts children at computers running education software. Very little personal teacher-student interaction takes place but teenagers who don’t like to get up in the morning can go to the strip mall and earn credits toward graduation. In 2015, the non-profit Mary founded paid her a “salary” of $340,810 and her daughter Tiffany Yandell received $135,947.

It is easy to take offense at the truth. But, ignoring the daily lies from the highest levels of our government, honesty is always the best policy. When you tell the truth you don’t need a “communications director” to spin bad stories.