Archives for category: Accountability

Valerie Strauss of the Washington Post uses her awesome journalistic skills to try to figure out what Governor Ron DeSantis means when he says he intends to “end standardized testing.” I was confused by his statement, confused by his explanation, and remain uncertain about what he intends to do. Neither he nor the State Superintendent Richard Corcoran are educators. One suspects that they have political motives. (See here for full article.)

Strauss writes:

Strange things happen routinely in Florida — but nobody saw this one coming: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) announced this week that he is overhauling Florida’s standardized testing regimen in a way that drew praise from some chronic critics and pointed questions from Jeb Bush, the former Republican governor who pioneered the system DeSantis says he is dumping.

The announcement sparked a slew of striking headlines, some of which said that DeSantis was ending (a) standardized testing, (b) high-stakes testing or (c) the dreaded springtime assessment season that has demoralized teachers and students for years.

In fact, he isn’t ending standardized testing, he isn’t ending high-stakes testing, and testing in the spring isn’t disappearing.

There’s plenty we don’t know about the new testing system: The governor offered few details, and the Florida Education Department did not provide any when asked. But it is the first time that a state has announced it is setting up a new accountability testing paradigm, and it could spur other states to make a similar change to eliminate highly unpopular assessment programs.

Here’s what DeSantis said he is doing:

The governor announced Tuesday that he would ask the Republican-led legislature (which will do pretty much anything he wants) to end the Florida State Assessment (FSA) system, which tests students in reading and math and other subjects at the end of each school year.

Those tests — and others like them used in every state for years — are given at the end of each academic year, virtually always after significant test prep that eats up days of instructional time. Scores are not available until after the school year ends, and teachers don’t know which questions students got wrong.

The new Florida Assessment of Student Thinking, DeSantis said, will give three short exams to monitor student progress in fall, winter and spring, giving teachers more time to teach as well as real-time data to target instruction — and will cost less money. He said the exams would be individualized, which would mean online adaptive tests that some Florida districts already use for progress monitoring.


“We will continue to set high standards, but we also have to recognize it is the year 2021 and the FSA is, quite frankly, outdated,” DeSantis said. “There will be 75 percent less time for testing, which will mean more time for learning.”


Many educators like progress monitoring for the reasons the governor enunciated: that it helps them measure growth in their students and adapt instruction in real time. But under the new plan, the state will decide which assessments are used, taking that choice away from districts and teachers.

Exactly which assessments will be used remains to be seen, as does the answer to these questions:

How will three short tests a year substitute for math and English and end-of-course subject exams that make up the current FSA suite of assessments?

Will there be three short tests for each subject?

Will the end-of-course exams in subjects other than math and English remain as they are now?

Another key issue: Was DeSantis saying that he was giving up the high stakes currently attached to test scores?

On the same day of the governor’s announcement, the Florida Education Department issued two lists — one of the things that are wrong with the FSA, and another of things that are good about the system to be created.

One item on the FSA-is-bad list is this: “high stakes test.” Student FSA scores are used for things that include deciding whether to allow a third-grade student move to fourth grade or a high school senior to graduate, assigning grades to schools and states on how well they are doing, giving bonuses to teachers, and determining eligibility for vouchers.

Assessment experts have long said that the exams are not intended to be used in that way, but states have used them in that way anyway.

The Education Department’s list praising the new tests doesn’t mention anything about high stakes. So is DeSantis really ending not only the FSA tests but also the high stakes attached to them? He was asked about this Tuesday when the announcement was made, and he let Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran respond.

No, Corcoran said, the high stakes linked to the current end-of-the-year tests would not go away.

They would remain unchanged.

If the stakes aren’t going away, that means the spring test will provide results used for high-stakes purposes. It is also possible that the other two exams could have stakes attached to them too. Some teachers are always concerned that teachers could be prepping kids for three standardized tests a year instead of one.

“I suspect the time needed for state tests will be about the same: three hours for each subject,” said veteran teacher Gregory Sampson. “With high stakes continuing to be attached, there could be even more test prep as districts have three tests to be ready for instead of one. Districts will probably do pre-progress monitoring tests to anticipate what their results will be.”

The Foundation for Excellence in Education, which was founded by Bush, who pioneered and has continued to champion the high-stakes standardized testing model used across the country, raised similar concerns (the irony can’t be overstated here). After praising DeSantis for moving “statewide assessments to an online and adaptive testing approach,” a foundation release asked:

• Does changing the nature of teacher-driven progress-monitoring tools create high-stakes stressors on students three times a year?

• Will educators be required to teach on a schedule set by Tallahassee to be “on track” for three statewide progress monitoring tests?

• Will the spring progress monitoring test simply be a replacement for the end-of-year test and result in teachers having less time to cover the full year of content?

Cindy Hamilton, co-founder of the Opt Out Florida Network, who has long criticized the state’s testing scheme, put it this way: “The Florida Department of Education has made it clear that these stakes are not going away. School grades, teacher evaluations, placement decisions, third-grade retention, those things are all still going to happen. With these stakes attached, the test becomes less about the student and more about the punitive consequences.”

Some Florida assessment reform activists also say they are concerned that DeSantis may be gearing up for a fight with the federal government.
The U.S. Every Student Succeeds Act, the successor K-12 education law to No Child Left Behind, requires that schools test students in reading and math once a year in grades three through eight, as well as once in high school — and in science three times, once each in grade school, middle school and high school.

The DeSantis plan has this timeline: The last FSA exams will be administered in spring 2022, and the following year will be a “pause” in accountability while “a new baseline for accountability” will be set. In the 2023-24 school year, a “unified” progress monitoring system will be established, new cut scores will be set and there will be a “return to accountability.”

A spokesperson for the U.S. Education Department said that DeSantis had not told the federal agency of Florida’s plans. States have leeway in creating their own accountability systems, the spokesperson said, but they must meet federal requirements.
Bob Schaeffer, executive director of the nonprofit National Center for Fair and Open Testing, said there is concern that DeSantis may be getting ready to “bash Washington for inhibiting [states’ rights] by goading the U.S. Department of Education into rejecting a scheme that fails to comply with federal law under the Every Student Succeeds Act.”

After DeSantis made his announcement, he received praise from at least one critic: Andrew Spar, president of the Florida Education Association, the state’s teachers union.

“It’s not everything we want, but it’s a huge step, and I hope it opens the door to more conversation about how to more effectively assess students,” Spar said, adding that the union wants to negotiate with the governor and legislature about the new system.

Miami-Dade County Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho, who has bucked the governor by imposing a mask mandate in the district’s schools, also praised the governor’s move. He tweeted: “Fewer, better state assessments with greater reliance on ongoing, real-time progress monitoring data enable timely academic recalibration opportunities that are right for Florida’s kids.”

While many in the education world lamented the quality of the end-of-year exams students have been taking, there is no guarantee that the new ones will be better.

The use of online adaptive exams means that the tests can be individualized as each student goes through the questions. If a student gets a question wrong, an easier question may appear next — which would be different from one given to a student who got the first one correct.

There have been studies showing that computer adaptive testing (CAT) can cut testing time by 50 percent or more without any loss in measurement precision. But there are important issues that could be of concern to educators.

For one thing, students usually can’t return to a previous question to answer it.

For another, questions on linear standardized tests are reviewed by subject matter experts, but that is difficult if not impossible to do with computer adaptive tests because there are many more questions and combinations of questions that are utilized, experts say. One report on CAT said that if “a CAT selects items solely based on the test-takers’ ability, content balance and coverage may be easily distorted for some test-takers.” Also, questions will be used repeatedly and therefore can be shared, raising test security concerns.

In a separate concern, student privacy advocates also worry that these online tests gather an enormous amount of student data that can be sold to third parties.

DeSantis’s announcement reflects what has been in recent years growing disenchantment with standardized testing, which in the past two decades reached a point where kids were going to testing pep rallies and spending hundreds of hours preparing for exams. Curriculums narrowed because only math and reading were tested, and schemes to use the test scores for various accountability purposes got out of hand.

The 2020 testing season was canceled by the Trump administration when schools were shut at the start of the coronavirus pandemic. The Biden administration required states to give the tests this year — despite criticism that the scores would reflect what everybody already knew: Students lost ground because of the pandemic.

Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said earlier this year that he would be open to talking to states about changes in their testing system — but it remains to be seen if DeSantis’s plan will pass federal muster….

Valerie Strauss is an education writer who authors The Answer Sheet blog. She came to The Washington Post as an assistant foreign editor for Asia in 1987 and weekend foreign desk editor after working for Reuters as national security editor and a military/foreign affairs reporter on Capitol Hill. She also previously worked at UPI and the LA Times.

The authorizer of the Hmong College Prep Academy in St. Paul, Minnesota, wants to fire the superintendent of the school after learning of big losses in the school’s funds.

A St. Paul charter school’s authorizer has placed the school on probation and recommended the board fire its superintendent after she lost $4.3 million of the school’s money investing in a hedge fund.

The authorizer, Bethel University, said Hmong College Prep Academy’s failed investment “illustrates areas of great concern related to managing finance, governance and legal compliance.”

Christianna Hang, superintendent and chief financial officer, founded the school in 2004. It’s now the state’s largest single-site charter school, with around 2,400 students in the Como neighborhood, and is building a $43 million middle school with financing facilitated by the city of St. Paul.

Hang was looking for opportunities to pay for that project when she ended up wiring $5 million to a hedge fund in 2019, in violation of the school’s policy and state law. The school is now suing the hedge fund.

Bethel’s Aug. 30 letter also cited “significant concerns” about conflicts of interest regarding the superintendent, her husband and a former school board member.

The first conflict involved Bridge Partner Group, a company owned by Hang and her husband, Paul Yang. The board in January approved a contract with the company, effectively converting Yang from the school’s chief operating officer to an independent contractor on a fully guaranteed, five-year contract worth around $190,000 a year; the board later reversed that move.

The second conflict involves Northeast Bank, which was chosen to finance $7 million of the middle school project while one of its vice presidents, Jason Helgemoe, served as vice chair on the Hmong College Prep board.

Bethel has directed the board to spend 90 days making numerous changes at the school, including dividing superintendent and chief financial officer into two separate positions and hiring a financial consultant who reports directly to the authorizer.

In addition, Bethel is “recommending” the board fire Hang and replace her with someone with no prior ties to Hmong College Prep and for the board to appoint a chairperson who is not employed by the school; the current chair is a teacher.

If you are wondering why there is a Hmong charter school, Minnesota has a long-established practice of authorizing racially and ethnically segregated schools. Defenders of the practice say the children are more comfortable going to school with children of the same background.

I remember when Southerners said the same about segregated schools in the 1950s.

When was the last time your school had millions to invest in the market?

I posted Aaron Regunberg’s article in The Providence Journal, in which Governor Dan McKee awarded a $5.1 million contract to a brand-new firm created by friends from Jeb Bush’s Chiefs for Change. The contract was supposedly to help schools reopen.


He wrote:

Take the recent story of a $5-million “school reopening” contract given to Governor McKee’s longtime financial backers at the corporate education reform group Chiefs for Change (CFC). The head of CFC, Mike Magee, has directly contributed thousands of dollars to the governor, and his brother leads the Super PAC that spent hundreds of thousands supporting McKee during my primary challenge to him in 2018. As has been reported extensively by WPRI, just two days after Mr. McKee took office, the chief operating officer and director of operations of CFC incorporated a brand-new company, ILO Group, which almost immediately received a state contract to the tune of $5.2 million — an amount many millions of dollars more than the next-highest bid.

But it’s worse than that. WPRI in Providence reported that the head of the new firm that won the contract was still employed by McKee’s friends when the contract was awarded.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The head of a newly founded consulting firm was still working for one of Gov. Dan McKee’s close confidantes at the same time that her company was finalizing a controversial state contract worth up to $5.2 million, the Target 12 Investigators have learned.

Separately, Target 12 has also learned that a key initiative the consulting firm is spearheading — the creation of alternative municipal education offices across Rhode Island — is slated to receive funding from Amazon.com under the terms of the company’s new agreement for a project in Johnston.

The consulting firm, ILO Group, has been making headlines ever since Target 12 first reported that the state awarded a lucrative contract to ILO soon after it was incorporated, despite a messy bidding process which state officials deemed unsuccessful.

The contract “had all the hallmarks of some of the deals that we’ve had in the past that come from the ‘I know a guy’ culture in Rhode Island,” said state Rep. Jason Knight, a Barrington Democrat and member of the House Oversight Committee, which is considering hearings on the contract.

ILO’s majority owner and managing partner is Julia Rafal-Baer, who was previously chief operating officer at the national education nonprofit Chiefs for Change. Chiefs for Change’s CEO is Mike Magee, a longtime adviser to McKee on education issues who worked for the governor when McKee was Cumberland mayor. Magee also served on McKee’s transition team last winter.

ILO filed incorporation papers with the Rhode Island secretary of state’s office on March 4, two days after McKee was sworn into office. But Target 12 discovered Rafal-Baer did not leave her old job when she co-founded the new firm and began bidding on the seven-figure state contract.

R.I. Board of Elections filings show Rafal-Baer continued to list Chiefs for Change as her employer, rather than ILO, when she made campaign donations during the spring. A spokesperson for ILO, Frank McMahon, confirmed Rafal-Baer kept her job at Chiefs for Change until June 28 — after ILO had won the state contract and just a few days before it took effect.

The most recent available IRS filings for Chiefs for Change show the nonprofit paid Magee $308,211 and Rafal-Baer $247,881 in 2019, making them the organization’s two highest-paid employees.

No decision yet on oversight hearings

As the bidding process began in March, Rafal-Baer had access at the highest levels.

The day after ILO’s incorporation papers were filed — March 5 — she and Magee were slated to participate in a half-hour Zoom meeting with the governor and the state purchasing agent, Nancy McIntyre, according to McKee’s schedule for that day. Also invited to the meeting were McKee’s then-chief of staff, Tony Silva, and the director of the R.I. Department of Administration, Jim Thorsen.

“The meeting was to discuss the state’s options for engaging additional support to assist with school safety related to COVID, including testing and other strategies for safe in-person learning,” said McKee spokesperson Andrea Palagi. She added that Rafal-Baer “was sent an invite for this meeting but did not attend.” The meeting was first reported by The Providence Journal.

Later in March the governor’s office solicited bids for a new education consultant to help with reopening schools and long-term policy planning.

ILO put in an initial bid of $8.8 million to do the work, while a rival firm with a two-decade track record in Rhode Island — WestEd — said it would cost only $936,000.

With the numbers so far apart, state officials reworked their request and asked for revised bids. On May 7, ILO lowered its bid to $6.5 million — but that was still far higher than WestEd’s revised bid of $3.5 million.

By late May, a four-member state review panel that included North Providence Mayor Charlie Lombardi abandoned the competitive procurement process and proposed splitting the work between the two firms. ILO got a contract for up to $5.2 million to help K-12 schools, while WestEd got $926,000 to help colleges.

The governor has emphasized that ILO is billing the state hourly for its services — at a rate of $223 an hour — and he expects the final price tag for the contract to come in “far below” the $5.2 million maximum.

Spokespersons for both organizations as well as the governor’s office have distanced Chiefs for Change and Magee from the bidding process that led to ILO’s selection. In a letter to legislators last week, McKee said Magee “has no past or current financial interest or management role in ILO,” and ILO’s spokesperson said Magee “did not participate in the preparation or submission of this proposal.”

In his letter to lawmakers, McKee said ILO “currently works with large-scale and small-scale school districts throughout the country.” When Target 12 asked for a list of the other states where ILO is working, however, a spokesperson for the company said: “It is ILO’s policy not to share the names of its clients.”

By the way, McKee’s friend Mike Magee is the brother of Marc Porter Magee, CEO of 50CAN, an organization whose sole purpose is to promote charter schools. New York BATS were none too happy with Rafal-Baer when she worked as Assistant Commissioner of Education in that state and was known as the state’s ”teacher evaluation czar.”. One of them wrote:

In reality, Dr. Rafal-Baer’s policies in NY were met with deep resistance, found “arbitrary and capricious” in state Supreme Court and suspended after costing taxpayers untold millions. Achievement gaps and school segregation widened, and teacher workforce morale has tanked, with untested, top-down initiatives the biggest reported driver of workplace stress by far.

In response to the criticism of the grant to the newly-minted ILO, Governor McKee wrote a letter to legislative leaders defending his decision to award the contract.

“While ILO is newly organized as a Rhode Island-based business, its team members have worked together for years and have an extensive background working in Rhode Island and throughout the country on education consulting projects,” McKee wrote. He noted that ILO’s managing partner – Julia Rafal-Baer, who owns a majority stake in the firm – is a Cranston resident…

But McKee didn’t mention that ILO’s proposed hourly rate for the work still totaled $228 an hour, compared to $123 for WestEd — meaning the bids were still nearly $3 million apart. Those numbers are too small and blurry to read in the supporting documents sent by the governor’s office. (Target 12 has separate copies of the original.)

In another section of the report, McKee also downplayed the overall price tag of the ILO contract, saying he doubted the firm would end up billing taxpayers for that much money in the end.

“To avoid unnecessary spending, the contract is to be billed hourly up to the amount of $5.1 million instead of a fixer retainer fee,” McKee wrote. “Based on ILO’s billable hours for work performed since the beginning of July 2021 when the contract began, we expect to remain far below this cap.”

Why teach for peanuts when you can be paid $228 an hour as a consultant? If you know the right people.

Dountonia Batts is a parent advocate and community organizer in Indianapolis. she is a member of the board of the Network for Public Education. She explains here why she once supported vouchers but no longer does.

I can remember exactly when my thinking about school vouchers began to change. I was attending a community meeting, waiting to find out whether my small children, then in kindergarten and first grade, were going to receive vouchers to attend a private school. The meeting was almost over when a community member stood up and told us how disturbed she was by the way we all kept talking about ‘my children.’ “We have to be focused on the children who do not have the choices you have,” she told us solemnly. “They’re going to fall through the cracks.” It would take me years to see for myself what she meant, but the seed was planted that night.

My two sons did get school vouchers and were accepted to a private Baptist K-12 school. As the years passed, I became more aware of the impact of the decision I’d made. It started with my own children. After the murder of Trayvon Martin in 2012, my oldest son wore a hoodie to school and it was viewed as a political statement. The signs that he wasn’t really welcome at a school that got less diverse in each successive grade became more apparent. I saw the eyes and heard the comments in the bleachers. My youngest son was the only Black child in his class. He started to get discouraged, convinced that he wasn’t smart. He never found his people at that school. I began to understand that school is about more than academics. The social element really matters too.

My perspective really began to change when my husband, Dr. Ramon Batts, decided to run for school board in Indianapolis. He could see what I’d been missing—that as charter schools and vouchers expanded, the school system in Indianapolis was falling apart. All of the high schools in our neighborhood had been shut down, even as charter high schools were popping up. Here was the neediest school system in the state, serving the neediest kids, and yet funds were being systematically drained away. And it was only getting worse. In the years that my children had been attending their private school, Indiana had expanded eligibility for the voucher program again and again. Today, families earning up to $140,000 can attend private schools at public expense. 

For the first time I really began to think about the impact of the decision I’d made on everybody else. By pulling away from the public system, I was leaving less for the kids who’d been left behind, including the ones who couldn’t get into private schools, or who got kicked out because they didn’t conform to what the schools wanted. The more I saw, the more it bothered me. I was using public dollars to perpetuate discrimination in the name of school choice. I decided that I could no longer accept school vouchers for my children because it was unethical. 

Today, both of my children attend public schools, and my younger son has finally found “his people.” And I’m now an advocate for public education. I try to get parents to understand that if we defund, undermine or privatize public schools we’re doing a disservice to the majority of parents for whom private schools are not an option. I try to help them see what I finally did: that the decisions we make when it comes to our own children have an impact on everybody else. All those years ago, that woman at the community meeting warned that we were drifting dangerously away from the idea of a common good. At the time, I couldn’t understand what she meant. I do now.

You have probably read about the gymnasts who testified before Congress last week, complaining about the failure of the FBI, the US Olympic Committee, and others had ignored their reports of sexual abuse by the doctor for the gymnastics team.

Like me, you probably never read the FBI report describing its own failure to take their reports seriously.

This CNN story has a link to the report. It is horrifying.

Governor Ron DeSantis has decided to drop standardized testing and replace it with “progress monitoring.”

The devil is in the details. How will the state monitor “progress” without standardized testing? Is he trying to hide the poor performance of charter schools?

Florida blogger Billy Townsend explains what’s happening here. He says Ron is ditching Jeb.

In 2005, Ohio launched a new voucher program to “save poor kids from failing schools.” The voucher program served 3,000 students and cost $5 million.

Now the state’s voucher program serves 69,000 students and costs Ohio taxpayers $628 million annually. Voucher advocates want more.

The legislature continually rewrote the rules for eligibility to expand the number of students who can get a voucher.

At first, only students assigned to schools in “academic emergency” – the state’s lowest rating – for three consecutive years could apply for a voucher.

A year later it became schools in either academic emergency or academic watch for three years. Six months after that, the requirement dropped to two of the last three years.

In 2013, lawmakers created an income-based scholarship for all kids regardless of their home district. Then, they removed the requirement that kindergartners be enrolled in their local public school first and later expanded it all the way up to high school students.

Today, roughly half of Ohio’s families are eligible for an income-based voucher because the limit for a family of four $65,500 of annual household income.

Not many children are being “saved.” Most voucher schools perform worse than the public schools that the students left.

Most kids who use EdChoice scholarships perform worse on state standardized tests than their public school peers, a 2020 investigation by the Cincinnati Enquirer found. null

In 88% of Ohio cities where vouchers are used, the data showed better test results for the public schools. And when it came to Ohio’s eight largest cities, five of the districts (Akron, Canton, Cleveland, Toledo and Cincinnati) reported higher proficiency levels.

Akron City Schools had the biggest difference, scoring nearly 8 percentage points higher than the private schools in its area.

Public school advocates say that’s because many of the schools on the voucher list aren’t failing. The criteria for getting on the list is wrong, not the schools.

The goal of voucher advocates is not to “save poor children from failing schools,” but to transfer public funds for parents to use at private and religious schools, even though their public schools are better.

The talented investigative journalist Jennifer Berkshire reports on the changing politics behind charter schools. Democratic support for charters, once led by the Obama administration, is waning. Betsy DeVos made clear that school choice is a Republican goal.

She writes:

In 2019, when West Virginia passed legislation that allowed for the creation of charter schools, it represented yet another feather in the cap of the school-choice movement. Nearly three decades after the creation of the very first publicly funded, privately managed school, in Minnesota, charters now educate more than 3.3 million K-12 students in 7,500 schools across the country, and West Virginia—where lawmakers ignored the fierce opposition of the state’s teachers’ union—became the forty-fifth state to allow them.

Yet today the charter school movement itself is perhaps more vulnerable than it has ever been. Unlikely allies in the best of times, its coalition of supporters—which has included progressives, free-market Republicans, and civil rights advocates, and which has been handsomely funded by deep-pocketed donors and Silicon Valley moguls—is unraveling.

Much of the blame rests on the hyperpolarized politics of the Trump era. Under Betsy DeVos, the lightning-rod secretary of education, Republicans rediscovered their love for private school vouchers and religious education. And with the taste for all things neoliberal on the wane within today’s Democratic Party, charter schools, long the favored policy plaything of the liberal donor class, are simply a harder sell….

The GOP’s most stunning move was to enact, without a single Democratic vote, the Hope Scholarship Program, a sweeping voucher program aimed at moving students out of what the right refers to derisively as “government schools.” Starting in 2022, West Virginia parents who withdraw their children from public schools will receive their child’s state share of public education funding—approximately $4,600 in 2021—to spend on virtually any educational cost: private school tuition, online education programs, homeschooling, tutors, even out-of-state boarding schools. Newly school-age students whose parents never intended to go the public route are also eligible for the funds, which can be banked and spent on future expenses, similar to a health savings account.

While West Virginia’s moves were the most dramatic, legislators in 18 states, including Florida, Indiana, Arizona, and New Hampshire, were close behind, creating private school–choice initiatives or expanding existing ones. Although lawmakers pointed to the pandemic’s shuttering of public schools as part of the justification, schools—both public and private—in most of these states remained open. For all of the bluster from Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and others about the importance of in-person schooling, the GOP’s favored school-choice programs increasingly bypass traditional classroom learning altogether. Instead, parents are encouraged to use publicly funded “education freedom accounts” to purchase an array of education “options,” much like television viewers who eschew cable packages for à la carte channels.

Charles Siler, a former lobbyist for the pro-privatization Goldwater Institute in Arizona, says that the GOP’s increasing hostility to public schools could ultimately harm charters as well. “The real target here is taxpayer-funded public education, and that’s a category that includes charters,” said Siler.

Carol Burris, executive director of the Network for Public Education, wrote the following:

As you know, the House is trying to block federal funding to charters controlled by for-profits. But it will be an uphill battle. I recently did an investigation into the private sale of 69 charters by for-profit NHA. It is jaw-dropping. Please read about it and share. This is a critical time to get the word out. Thanks, Carol

https://www.washingtonpost.com/education/2021/09/14/charter-school-scams/

It’s true that there are occasional stories of embezzlement or fraud in public schools, but none compares to the sheer audacity of California’A3 online charter chain. Its two cofounders—Jason Schrock and Sean McManus—concocted elaborate schemes and pocketed hundreds of millions of dollars of state funds. They both pleaded guilty and repaid hundreds of millions.

Schrock, however, will not spend a day in prison.

SAN DIEGO — 

One of the two masterminds behind a massive charter school scheme that defrauded the state of California out of tens of millions of dollars was sentenced to four years in prison and ordered to pay $18.75 million in fines in San Diego Superior Court on Friday.

Jason Schrock, a co-creator of the now-defunct A3 charter school network, pleaded guilty in February to one count of conspiracy to misappropriate public funds and one count of conflict of interest. He has been on house arrest in Orange County since he was arraigned in May 2019.

Because the law requires that Schrock receive credit for the more than 750 days he has spent on house arrest, he will not spend a single day in prison.

At Schrock’s sentencing hearing, defense attorney Knut Johnson emphasized that Schrock had been wholly cooperative during the investigation, turning over hundreds of millions of dollars in assets and thousands of pages of documents to further the investigation.

It was that cooperation that kept San Diego Superior Court Judge Frederick Link from handing down a stiffer sentence, the judge said. The case centered on what has been labeled as one of the nation’s largest fraud schemes after taxpayers were fleeced out of $400 million meant for K-12 education. Due in part to the cooperation of Schrock and his co-conspirator, Sean McManus, investigators have recovered $220 million…

A yearlong investigation by the San Diego County district attorney’s office determined that Schrock and McManus and their codefendants fraudulently obtained hundreds of millions in state school dollars from 2016 to 2019 after opening a network of 19 online charter schools. Three of those schools were in San Diego County.

Prosecutors accused A3 leaders of buying children’s personal information to falsely enroll them in the schools and of providing incomplete education services while taking tens of millions of dollars for personal use. A3 leaders also manipulated enrollment figures across their schools to receive more state funding per student and manipulated school attendance reporting to get more money for time that children were not spending in A3 schools.

So far, nine defendants in the case have pleaded guilty.