Archives for category: Virtual Charter Schools

Carol Burris, executive director of the Network for Public Education, delves into the charter lobby’s boasts about enrollment growth during the pandemic. Most of that increase, she found, was in virtual charter schools, the lowest performing of all charter schools. Her post appeared on Valerie Strauss’s blog at The Washington Post.

Burris writes:

Last October, this post examined state 2020-21 enrollment data indicating that large numbers of students had during the coronavirus pandemic moved to virtual charter schools, which are notorious for being the lowest performing schools in the charter sector. Researchers and advocacy organizations, including the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, had previously been highly critical of virtual charters….

Charters operated by the for-profit online giant Stride K12 increased from 72,474 students in 2019-2020 to 110,767 in 2020-2021. Its strongest competitor, Pearson’s Connections Academy, experienced even stronger proportional growth, from 53,673 to 85,749.


Overall, the for-profit-run charter sector enrolled more than 50 percent of all students registered in virtual charters during both years…

In March 2022, the GAO issued a blistering report on virtual charter schools. The analysis showed that virtual charter students lagged behind their peers in brick-and-mortar charter schools, and even further behind students in brick-and-mortar public schools in publicly overseen districts.
When the GAO reviewed student proficiency in math and reading, they found “the national average math proficiency rate for virtual charter schools was 25 percentage points lower than the rate for brick-and-mortar traditional schools” and “the average reading proficiency rate for virtual charter schools was 9 percentage points lower than brick-and-mortar traditional schools.”

(Government Accountability Office analysis) (The Washington Post/Government Accountability Office)


While many virtual charter operators claim that the students attending their schools are often already lagging, the GAO made sure to control for several factors that could impact these proficiency rates, including past academic performance and student mobility. Even after controlling for those factors, the GAO still found virtual students’ scores statistically significantly behind brick-and-mortar public school students’. Not only that, fewer virtual students bothered to take state tests.

The Keystone Center for Charter Change at the Pennsylvania School Boards Association reprinted the following report about Pennsylvania’s low-quality cyber charters.

Pa. cyber-charter schools lead on cost; lag on results

PA Capital-Star by John L. Micek, January 28, 2022Pa. spends the most out of the 27 states that have cyber-charter schools, but gets the least return on investment, according to new research

Good Friday Morning, Fellow Seekers.
As public schools made the often-awkward pivot between in-person and online instruction during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, the commonwealth’s cyber-charter schools saw their enrollment explode as parents raced to find reliable schooling for their children. In fact, the Keystone State’s 14 cyber-charter schools saw their enrollment rise from slightly more than 38,000 students in October 2019 to more than 60,000 students by October 2020, marking the largest year-over-year increase, the Post-Gazette reported last May, citing data compiled by the Pennsylvania Department of Education. By last April, that popularity showed no signs of abating, with a poll by Republican-friendly Susquehanna Polling & Research in Harrisburg showing that nearly 7 in 10 respondents to a poll of 700 Pennsylvanians supported the online programs, the Post-Gazette also reported. Despite that popularity, the online programs have come in for constant criticism by advocates for traditional public schools, who argue that the online schools aren’t worth the return on investment and that student performance suffers as a result (Obligatory Caveat: Charter schools are public schools that receive taxpayer money, but are run by private operators). A recently released report by a wing of the progressive-leaning advocacy group Children First keeps up that drumbeat of criticism, finding that, of the 27 states that authorize cyber-charter schools, Pennsylvania spends the most public money on these programs, but has the “weakest systems to ensure students and taxpayers are getting their money’s worth.”

Click here to read more.

“Pennsylvania is the cyber-charter capital of the nation, ML Wernecke, the director of the Pennsylvania Charter Performance Center, which conducted the study, said in a statement. “But given the persistent performance in cyber-charter programs, and the out-of-control pressure on local taxpayers, this is one place where it is not good to be first.”

Among its chief findings, the report notes that every one of Pennsylvania’s cyber-charter schools has “been identified as needing improvement under the state’s ESSA School Improvement and Accountability plan, placing them among the state’s lowest performing schools.”

In addition, consider the low graduation rates at Cybercharters:

Considering cyber schooling for your student? Millions in taxpayer-funded advertising notwithstanding, most Pennsylvania cyber charters have graduation rates 20 percentage points or more below statewide averages for all schools.

Keystone Center for Charter Change; PA Department of Education

David Lapp, director of policy research for Research for Action in Philadelphia, recently wrote about the money wasted on Cybercharters in Pennsylvania. Apparently, the industry has a strong hold on the Pennsylvania legislature. There is no other reason that it continues to thrive.

During the worst of the pandemic, schools closed for reasons of safety and caution. Cybercharters boomed to fill the gap. But with physical schools open, the truth must be told about Cybercharters: they are a poor substitute for real schools.

Lapp writes:

When the COVID-19 pandemic forced schools into remote learning instruction many Pennsylvania policymakers expressed deep concerns. Many lamented the impact on mental health when students stopped receiving in-person learning and the important social skills that develops. Many were upset by the evidence of significant learning loss that accompanied the switch to virtual instruction.

The Pennsylvania General Assembly even enacted a new law allowing students to voluntarily repeat a grade to make up for lost educational opportunities.

This year policymakers should consider bringing that same energy to a similarly harmful and even more wasteful form of remote learning. One that’s been growing for more than two decades and reached a boiling point during the pandemic. I’m talking about the soaring enrollment growth and accompanying financial cost of Pennsylvania’s cyber-charter school expansion.

There’s solid research both nationally and in Pennsylvania that cyber-charter schools have an “overwhelmingly negative” impact on student learning. The learning loss students experience from virtual instruction in cyber-charter schools appears similar to the learning loss students experienced from virtual instruction during the pandemic.

For each year a student is enrolled in cyber-charter school they are also more likely to experience chronic absenteeism and less like to enroll in post-secondary education.

There’s also clear evidence that spending on cyber-charter school expansion comes at the expense of students receiving in-person learning in school districts and brick & mortar charter schools, where more effective instruction is provided. In fact school districts—which pay for cyber-charter tuition from their own school budgets—have indicated that charter tuition is now their top budget pressure.

It’s easy to understand why. Pennsylvania already had the highest cyber-charter school enrollment in the country and then enrollment grew by 22,618 additional students during the pandemic. Districts are now spending over $1 billion dollars a year on cyber-charter tuition, reflecting an increase of $335 million from before the pandemic. These surging expenses impacted the vast majority of school districts in the state.

Cyber-charter tuition likely represents the most inefficient spending in Pennsylvania school finance. For one, the cyber-charter system is redundant. Both before and since the pandemic, most school districts continue to offer their own virtual schools. Secondly, the tuition rates mandated under current PA law require districts to pay cyber-charters more than it actually costs to operate virtual schools. And finally, when students leave for cyber-charter schools, districts must of course still operate their own brick & mortar schools for remaining students, only now with fewer resources….

In Research for Action’s recent report, The Negative Fiscal Impact of Cyber Charter Enrollment Due to COVID-19, we estimated that the tuition increase in just one year of the pandemic, from the 2019-20 and 2020-21 school years, led to between $290 to $308 million of additional stranded costs borne by school districts. Nearly the entire amount of increases in school district total expenditures statewide in 2020-21 were accounted for by increases in school district tuition payments to charter schools, most of which were for cyber-charters specifically.

Meanwhile, this tuition spike has left cyber-charters in Pennsylvania flush with surplus resources. More than half of the additional funding cyber-charters received from districts in 2020-21 was not even used for student expenses. Rather, cyber- charters funneled over $170 million into their general fund balances that, unlike school districts, have no statutory limits.

Bill Phillis, former deputy state commissioner of education in Ohio, is a relentless defender of the state constitution and public schools. In this post, he warns that the state has already lost hundreds of millions on a virtual charter school (ECOT), which went bankrupt. Having demonstrated its ability to supervise one highly visible school, how will it monitor a voucher program?

He writes:

10,000 ECOT’s Coming to Ohio

William Lager, the ECOT Man, purchased for himself the best state officials he could, and that was a lot. Controlling state officials allowed him to steal hundreds of millions from Ohio taxpayers. Did they learn a lesson?

State officials seemingly missed the lesson they should have learned from the ECOT Man: regulate the charters and private schools that are funded by taxpayers.

Since the ECOT travesty, state funds for privatization of education ventures have increased substantially and many regulations have been cancelled. Ohio is on the education privatization trajectory that will result in 10,000 ECOT’s. Since Ohio government was unable to monitor ECOT, how will it monitor vouchers for a couple million students?

HB290, the Universal Voucher Bill, may not be on a fast track, but it will be slipped into the next budget bill, unless the public education community en masse wakes up to the threat.

Charter schools and private schools that are awarded public money will never be appropriately regulated unless the mind-set of controlling state officials changes. That will not happen; hence the EdChoice voucher litigation is essential.

Learn more about the EdChoice voucher litigation

Like us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/OhioEandA

VOUCHERS HURT OHIO

William L. Phillis | Ohio Coalition for Equity & Adequacy of School Funding | 614.228.6540 |ohioeanda@sbcglobal.net| http://ohiocoalition.org

For years, reformers celebrated the grand success of Ohio’s Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow. Politicians lauded it and poured money in. ECOT’s owner reciprocated by giving generously to politicians. Governor John Kasich gave the commencement address one year; Jeb Bush did another year.

But the state auditor (who was also a commencement speaker in 2015) checked the books and the whole ECOT edifice came crashing down. Ghost students, payments to companies owned by the founder, numerous ways to profit from the state’s generosity.

ECOT still owes Ohio more than $100 million.

Theodore Decker wrote in the Columbus Dispatch:

If there is such a thing as justice in this imperfect world, investigators in a federal building somewhere in Columbus are nudging ever close to it while digging into the billion-dollar boondoggle once known as the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow.

ECOT, at one time the state’s largest online charter school, collapsed four years ago amid claims that it had taken millions in undeserved state aid.

Allegations of wrongdoing were traded by the school and state education department. Lawsuits were filed. And about 12,000 students were left in the lurch when the school imploded.

Then ECOT fell out of the public view, overtaken by a thick layer of general dirtiness at a time when political scandal was the norm from the White House to the Statehouse.

An audit just released this week, though, found that ECOT still owes the state more than $117 million.

Ohio Auditor Keith Faber on Tuesday said the shuttered school owes $106.6 million to the state Department of Education and another $10.6 million to the state Attorney General’s office.

As others have before them, Faber’s auditors found that ECOT wasn’t entitled to all the state money it received, including some in 2016 and 2017 and none in 2018.

ECOT as an entity may be gone, but for the sake of all taxpaying Ohioans, it had better not be forgotten.

Looking at the broad sweep of the ECOT swindle, it seems unfathomable that not a single indictment has been lodged against anyone in connection with its shady operations.

The main man behind ECOT was William Lager, a man with a host of Statehouse connections who founded the school in 2000. He also operated Altair Learning Management Inc and IQ Innovations LLC, which had lucrative contracts with ECOT to provide support services. After ECOT fell apart, Attorney General Dave Yost called Lager “the principal wrongdoer“ in the case.

The series of lethal blows to Lager’s empire began in 2016, when the Department of Education demanded repayment of $80 million.

But ECOT’s attendance numbers had been disputed by the state long before that, as far back as 2006. Going back even further, to 2001 and 2002, an audit determined that the state had been overpaying the school by millions.

That ECOT’s attendance numbers were disputed so early on in its existence – and how that problem regardless went unaddressed for so long by a string of governors, legislators and state officials – are looming questions that must be the stuff of any civic-minded federal prosecutor’s dreams.

And maybe, we can hope, they still are.

Yost, while still the state auditor, excoriated ECOT in 2018 and referred his findings to both county and federal prosecutors.

The feds are a secretive lot who have a habit of neither confirming nor denying the existence of any pending investigation, but there have been a few dropped clues through the years that a probe of ECOT is afoot.

One of the biggest came in 2019, when the FBI and U.S. Department of Justice subpoenaed nearly 20 years of ECOT’s campaign contribution records.

More than three years have passed since that development, but the feds also don’t have a habit of rushing their investigations.

Maybe they will wrap things up without uncovering a single instance of criminal behavior.

If you possess a lick of common sense, given what we know already, that outcome would boggle the mind.

But even if that is how an investigation concludes, prosecutors at the very least should know many more details about how ECOT and its principals were permitted to run amok for so long.

Considering Ohio’s taxpayers footed the bill, we have the right to know each and every one of them.

Denis Smith is a retired educator. After teaching for many years, he worked in the charter school office of the Ohio Department of Education. There, he learned about charter frauds and charter political influence. He wrote the following article in the Ohio Capital Journal.

He begins:

Like the famed Casablanca police captain Louis Renault, Ohio taxpayers were shocked, shocked to learn recently from the state auditor’s office that the notorious online charter school ECOT, which closed in 2018, owes the state $117 million. A “Finding for Recovery” posted last week on the auditor’s website provided the details.

The announcement by Auditor of State Keith Faber that the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow, known familiarly as ECOT, owes the state such a huge amount for submitting inflated student enrollment data was met by a prolonged yawn among most of the state’s residents as well as media outlets.

Ohio residents were shocked, shocked at the news.

Not.

It seems that Ohioans have formed a natural immunity regarding any additional bad news about ECOT, known by some as “The School for Scandal,” with apologies to playwright Richard Brinsley Sheridan. Back in 2017, one of my articles about “The School for Scandal” likened its longevity to the Energizer Bunny and described the different meanings people derived from seeing the online charter school’s acronym. Readers also chimed in with their own descriptors:

ECOT Effectively Cleaning Ohio’s Treasury

ECOTEndlessly Cheating Ohio’s Taxpayers

ECOTEnough Corruption for Ohio Taxpayers

ECOTEasy Cash on Tap

What does not make the ECOT saga unique is that it merely mirrors much of charterdom and affirms the industry’s image as a slow-motion train wreck. Sadly, a plethora of stories about issues surrounding The School for Scandal’s improprieties published years before its demise were not catalysts for action.

But if misery loves company, ECOT, which operated at full blast draining the state’s treasury for 18 years, is but one of more than 300 failed charter schools now closed that performed with near impunity as the result of a charter-friendly design built into the Ohio Revised Code. That section of the code favors private operators for the schools and limits the amount of transparency and accountability for these constructs that are provided about 150 exemptions in law that public schools themselves are required to meet.

That charter DNA design allowed ECOT’s founder, William Lager, to form privately owned management companies to operate the school and thus limit the amount of sunshine that could be cast by auditors and those charged to provide oversight for the school. That same design for charters, which are privately operated with public funds, allowed Lager to donate generously to some of his favorite Republican politicians, including state Sen. Andrew Brenner, who currently serves as chair of the Senate Education Committee.

Over the years of its operation, as seen by his donations to the Republican leadership, it was clear that Lager was buying friends in the legislature.

“Lager is, by far, Brenner’s largest individual contributor,” the Columbus Dispatch reported in May 2018, four months after the school’s closure. Brenner pocketed $27,564 in three payments from Lager from 2015-2017, but lamely said that the money didn’t come from the school. Moreover, Brenner, a champion of the private sector and privately operated but state funded charter schools, had no qualms about accepting money from Lager, whose fortune was built upon a cash cow fed by the public treasury.

Then there is the situation with Attorney General Dave Yost. From 2013-2015, Yost spoke at ECOT graduation ceremonies and heaped praise on its supposed place in the state’s educational sector. At one of those commencements, the then-Auditor of State presented ECOT with the Ohio Auditor of State Award with Distinction, meaning the school met the standard for a “clean audit.”

Clean audit? Refer to the previous box – ECOT = Effectively Cleaning Ohio’s Treasury. In retrospect, that acronym might be appropriate.

According to the state auditor’s website, the Ohio Department of Education “determined ECOT was not entitled to a portion of the funding it had received in fiscal years 2016 and 2017, as well as none of the funding received in fiscal 2018.”

ECOT critics might pose another question: what about from 2000 to 2015?

The current situation with ECOT reminds us of the classic Thomas Nast cartoon which first appeared 150 years ago:

What Are You Going to Do About It?

More than four years after the school’s closure, that question can’t be avoided.

When it comes to this charter’s audits, some things just don’t add up, particularly when the state auditor went out of his way to praise ECOT. Yet for years some individuals in state government, particularly in the department of education, had serious concerns about the reported enrollment figures for the school, well before the praise heaped on it by then-auditor Yost.

The Auditor of State’s website shows the honor conveyed in January 2016, less than two years before the school was shuttered.

“The school’s excellent record keeping has qualified for the Auditor of State Award with Distinction,” Yost’s AOS website boasted about the nefarious online charter school.

Those familiar with the jaded history of the failed charter, with its founder’s habit of distributing widespread campaign contributions to powerful Republican officeholders, are skeptical about seeing any accountability in this election year for the school’s submission of padded student enrollment figures.

Indeed, when allegations grew in 2016 about the school’s true enrollment, Lager’s contributions to the state Republican Party and officeholders continued unabated. Moreover, a mysterious website called 3rd Rail Politics emerged that year to defend the school as well as attack those who opposed charters in general and ECOT in particular.

If all things related to ECOT have moved at a snail’s pace – or not at all – 4 ½ years after the school’s closure, skepticism about action against Lager and his acolytes in state government, who provided favorable treatment for this generous Republican mega donor, is palpable among the populace.

In 2018, Louise Valentine, Brenner’s Democratic opponent for the Senate seat he currently holds, framed the issue with Brenner and his ties to Lager and the rest of the charter industry.

“It all started with the legislators who crafted the education policies that allowed for a complete lack of oversight for these so-called schools,” she said in a Tweet. “People like @andrewbrenner took $$$$ from ECOT and then defended their lack of accountability.”

There’s that word again – accountability. But there are some astute citizens who are speaking their minds about the influence of donors in the charter industry and with the ECOT situation.

The reader comments following one of the latest Columbus Dispatch articles detailing the auditor’s Findings for Recovery against ECOT contain several comments which are illustrative of the skepticism about eventual action against Lager:

Corrupt GOP general assembly aided and abetted this scam from the beginning.

Or this:

ECOT spent millions getting the GOP elected. No worries, Bill Lager.

As Ohio citizens begin to focus on issues for the fall elections, including gun violence and the wholesale proliferation of weapons, the growing threat from right-wing domestic terrorism, reproductive rights, environmental protection and regulation, along with voting rights, we need to add one more to this list of issues: ECOT – and the charter industry itself.

What are we going to do about it? What kind of controls are in place by law and regulation to ensure the lawful expenditure of public funds consumed by a rogue online charter school? For that matter, with more than 300 “dead” Ohio charter schools that are part of the detritus created by school privatization and educational deregulation, why in heaven is the legislature considering any kind of voucher legislation that will only add more stress to our fracturing society?

If we are supposed to remember in November, we should be alert as to what actions, if any, have been put in motion to do whatever it takes to recover the lion’s share of the $117 million owed to Ohioans. And if you’re skeptical, join the club.

ECOT was supposed to provide daily a minimum of five hours of “learning opportunities” for its students. If a number of our fellow citizens start contacting their elected representatives to ask them what they’re going to do about the ECOT debacle and more regulation of charters, perhaps that might serve as a preemptive measure to stop any further action about educational vouchers. Your call will no doubt provide a learning opportunity for Republicans in the legislature to realize that with ECOT and other charter scandals, enough is too much.

One more thing. Now that we know all of this, what are we going to do about it?

Friends in Oklahoma sent the charging document that lays out the evidence against the founders of the Epic Charter School. They are accused of skimming off millions of dollars. The charging document explains how they did it.

Is this happening in your state? The biggest charter frauds seem to occur in virtual charters like the A4 scam in California, which siphoned off hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars before it was discovered.

The online charter sector not only has abysmal academic records, but it’s ripe pickings for scammers. The founders of Epic charter schools in Oklahoma are charged with multiple counts of embezzlement, racketeering and other crimes.

Oklahoma Watch reports:

Epic Charter Schools’ founders, who were arrested Thursday, shifted millions of school dollars to company credit cards, which were used to make political campaign donations, fund a lobbyist and pay personal expenses like vacations, the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation alleges in court documents.

Following a yearslong investigation into alleged embezzlement of taxpayer funds, the co-founders of the state’s largest online school were arrested Thursday, along with the longtime chief financial officer, court records show.

David Chaney, 43, Ben Harris, 46, and Josh Brock, 40, were booked into the Oklahoma County Detention Center Thursday morning. Each is charged with racketeering, embezzlement, obtaining money by false pretense, conspiracy to commit a felony, violating the Oklahoma Computer Crimes Act, submitting false documents to the state and unlawful proceeds.

Investigators said the men ran a complicated criminal enterprise using the online charter school and a for-profit company, Epic Youth Services.

The scheme has cost the state more than $22 million, according to the OSBI.

The charges involve co-mingling of funds, excessive and unnecessary management fees, use of Oklahoma tax dollars in California, political influence, concealment of profits, submission of false invoices and the illegal use of employees.

One of the school’s largest recruitment tools, the learning fund, was used to conceal illegal purchases, agents alleged. For the learning fund, Epic makes at least $1,000 available to each student annually in a virtual account. Parents can allocate those dollars for curriculum, laptops and extracurricular activities.

Parents don’t receive the money directly. Instead, they request a purchase from Epic and the school transfers the money to Epic Youth Services, which pays the vendor.

Chaney and Harris used a separate bank account to make learning fund purchases, and investigators found Chaney and Harris didn’t return unused learning fund dollars.

The account received nearly $145 million between 2015 and 2021. More than 50 times, Chaney, Harris and Brock transferred public funds from the learning fund account to the private bank account for Epic Youth Services, which was then used to pay a lobbying firm. Capital Gains, a lobbying firm run by Robert Stem, a longtime friend of Harris’, was paid more than $500,000.

Please open the link to read the rest of the story. Campaign contributions go a long way towards avoiding accountability.

Inspired perhaps by the anti-public school rhetoric of Betsy DeVos or funded perhaps by billionaire Charles Koch or encouraged by Trump’s white evangelical base, Oklahoma Republicans are proposing a bill that would crush public schools.

Not content to open more privately managed charters or to offer more vouchers to disgruntled parents, Republicans want to use public money to pay for whatever parents want to do. Jeanne Allen of the pro-privatization Center for Education Reform has for many years referred to this approach as a “backpack full of cash.” Give parents the money that previously went to public schools and let them decide whether to spend it on home-school, charters, vouchers, computers, tutors or whatever.

Jennifer Palmer of Oklahoma Watch writes that the ultimate goal of this approach is to abandon the state constitution’s pledge to support a public school system, replacing it with a ragtag array of choices. She doesn’t say it, but I will. This plan, if enacted, will undermine the quality of education in the state and set back the education of Oklahoma’s children. Instead of improving schools, it will turn the money for public schools into a grab bag.

She writes:

Of the 2,300 bills filed by state lawmakers for the upcoming session, which starts Monday, the one I will be watching most closely is Senate Bill 1647 by Senate leader Greg Treat. He’s calling it the Oklahoma Empowerment Act.

The legislation would create universal vouchers by giving any parent a state-funded account for their child’s education.

The funds could be used on private school tuition, homeschool expenses, tutoring, books, computers, supplies, transportation to school and many other qualifying expenses. The effect would be moving public funds to private entities lacking in accountability and transparency.

The bill envisions each student in the state with a backpack full of money and carrying it to the educational options their parents choose. It’s similar to Epic Charter School’s learning fund but on a much larger scale (and Epic’s learning fund is under audit for possible misuse of public funds for private gain by the school’s co-founders.)

Groups advocating for school choice, like ChoiceMatters and Every Kid Counts Oklahoma (whose executive director is Ryan Walters, secretary of education and a candidate for state superintendent), champion the idea with slogans like “fund students, not systems.” The mantra is also repeated by Yes. every kid., a social welfare organization started by Charles Koch, the billionaire owner of Koch Industries…

The Oklahoma State Constitution says: THE LEGISLATURE SHALL ESTABLISH A SYSTEM OF FREE PUBLIC SCHOOLS WHEREIN ALL THE CHILDREN OF THE STATE MAY BE EDUCATED.

The Legislature is specifically charged with maintaining a system of public schools. The bill, if passed, could be challenged on these grounds.

That’s not the only concern I’m hearing. As written, there is no testing requirement for students in the bill, which is required by most other states with voucher programs, according to a2021 comparison by the Education Commission of the States.

That means there would be little way for the public to ascertain the quality of the education these students are receiving. Oklahoma already has the most lax homeschool law in the country, and private schools report almost no data, even when they receive funds through the current school choice programs: the Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarship Fund and the Oklahoma Equal Opportunity Education Scholarship program.

Treat’s bill does not prohibit private schools from discriminating against students if they are LGBTQ or pregnant or for a number of other reasons (private schools can’t, though, discriminate on the basis of race if they are tax-exempt.) The proposal states an education provider “shall not be required to alter its creed, practices, admissions policy, or curriculum” to accept payments from the program.

Treat, recognizing the sure-fire opposition to this proposal, in a video with ChoiceMatters last week said: “There’s going to be plenty of criticisms to hear. Just put on the armor. Get ready for the fight. It’s going to be a fight. But our kids are worth it.”

So says the legislator whose plan violates the state constitution, destroys the state’s public schools, and guarantees that the quality of education will sharply decline as the grifters and religious zealots make their pitch for taxpayer dollars.

Cyber charters in Pennsylvania are a money pit because they are not subject to the same rules as public schools. Charter lobbyists must have written the charter laws as they have in other states. And they protect their freedom from scrutiny despite the fact that the founder of the first and biggest cyber charter operator in the state was sentenced to prison in 2018 for his failure to pay taxes on $8 million that he skimmed from the school’s funds. (Note that he was not jailed for embezzling funds but for not paying taxes on the money.)

Peter Greene discovered another way that the state’s cyber charters get favored treatment. Public schools are not allowed to sit on millions of dollars of rainy day funds. Cyber charters are.

I remember what charter advocates promised back in the late 1980s when the idea of charters was first being sold. Charters would be more “accountable” than regular public schools.

But now we know:

Accountability is for public schools, not for charter schools.