Laura Chapman, tireless researcher, did a cursory scan of the abundance of billionaire cash flowing into charter schools, enhanced by another $400 million from the U.S. Department of Education. There are literally dozens more foundations and organizations pouring money into the charter industry, such as Reed Hastings (Netflix), Eli Broad, Michael Bloomberg, John Arnold (ex-Enron), Michael Dell (computers), the Fisher Family (Old Navy, the Gap), and many more.

Why is the U.S. Department of Education pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into this well-funded industry? Betsy DeVos recently handed out $399 million to jump-start new charter schools, even in districts and states where there is no demand. Next year, Congress has allotted $450 million for charters, whether they are wanted or not.

What is clear from Laura’s review is that charter schools are not in need of funding. They are in need of accountability, transpency, stability, supervision, regulation, and integrity.

She writes:

I just did an analysis of these USDE grants, announced by Politico, in tandem with the Walton Foundation 2020 plan for charter school grants. Of course charters have many big funders. For example the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has propped up the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools and the National Association of Charter School Authorizers with grants to date of $35,954,074.

The 2020 plan from the Walton Family Foundation (prepared in 2015) begins with the prideful claim that the Walton Family Foundation (Walmart wealth) has supported 1 in 4 charter schools.

The 2020 plan provides for a five year investment totaling $1 billion for charter schools and supporters.

Between the Walton Family Foundation and USDE grants, thirty states will see inflows of funds for charters and with only a few exceptions (five), these states will have funds from both sources (in addition to many other funders).

The Walton Foundation is supporting charter-friendly STATE policies in Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Wisconsin.

For 2018-2019, the Walton wealth is supporting charterizing in: Arkansas (any district); California (Los Angeles specific boundaries, two grants]; California (Oakland, two grants), Colorado (Denver, two grants), Georgia (Atlanta, two grants), Indiana (Indianapolis, two grants), Louisiana (New Orleans, two grants), Massachusetts (Boston); New Jersey (Camden), New York (New York City, two grants), Oklahoma (any district), Tennessee (Memphis, Shelby County), Texas (Houston ISD; San Antonio, two grants), Washington, DC (two grants). “Any district” means there are no constraints on location. Most of the two-for grants are for facilities support in addition to operational support.

All of the Walton and USDE grants are for charter school “startups,” expansions, “replications” (as in a franchise), or charter school facilities financing. It is not surprising that most of the USDE grants are complementing those of the Walton Foundation.

It is easy to forget that NCLB provided for various schemes to finance charter schools (in addition to federal funds). Now there are specialty companies in the business of building out the charter sector. Here are some of the services advertised by one of these.

Begin quote: “Charter School Capital provides flexible funding solutions so charter schools can gain ground and achieve success. Our charter school working capital financing enables school leaders the flexibility and stability to support everyday expenses and — importantly — fuel their growth.

We help charter schools access working capital so they can:
Expand or grow programs, Open a new charter school, Provide new technology in the classroom, Hire and/or develop staff, Address budget shortfalls and delays (deferrals, holdbacks, etc.) gracefully, Improve transportation options, Enrich educational programs, Buy new equipment,

Facilities Financing
Our facilities financing product is a long-term lease that allows schools to access funding through all stages of growth – from start-up to expansion through maturity. As a long-term partner, our team works closely with you as we explore budgetary and financial options to support your facilities needs.
Why long-term lease financing? You can finance 100% of project costs, You can retain control of your facility, You can plan on long-term affordability, You can enhance your existing building or finance new construction, Your lease can be customized to your school’s model – whether blended learning, traditional, etc., Tenant improvements can be financed in your lease, Can be used as take-out financing for an existing bond or potential bridge to bond financing.

We currently own 42 school properties in 11 states, more than $350 million in assets. Schools range in attendance from 135 to 1,200 students with educational programs that include college preparatory, art-focused, STEM schools, and others. Our goal is to aid charter leaders so they have accessible, flexible financing options to meet their schools needs today and the needs they have in the future.

Loan Details
The Charter School Capital loan product is a flexible financing solution that can help schools reach their enrollment and educational goals.Available to schools of all ages, Refinance options available throughout the school year to accommodate growth, ƒ Payment plans can be customized to suit school needs, Access to funding in as few as 30 days from date of initial request, Loan amounts based on annual state aid revenue and student count, allowing for increasing scale with growth, NO RESTRICTIONS PLACED UPON UTILIZATION OF FUNDS. (caps are mine, End Quote.)

Here is the Walton 2020 plan: