The key to as to why Charter Schools are promoted by such people as Jeb Bush and the Koch brothers is that they can generate a lot of profit for well placed entrepreneurs in the education “reform” racket.
Jeff Bryant in Salon reported: “In 2014, charter schools, which had always been marketed for a legendary ability to deliver promising new innovations for education, became known primarily for their ability to concoct innovative new scams.
“A story that appeared at Forbes in late 2013 foretold a lot of what would emerge in 2014. That post ‘Charter School Gravy Train Runs Express to Fat City’ brought to light for the first time in a mainstream source the financial rewards that were being mined from charter schools. As author Addison Wiggin explained, a mixture of tax incentives, government programs and Wall Street investors eager to make money were coming together to deliver a charter school bonanza – especially if the charter operation could ‘escape scrutiny’ behind the veil of being privately held or if the charter operation could mix its business in ‘with other ventures that have nothing to do with education.’
“As 2014 began, more stories about charter schools scandals continued to drip out from local press outlets – a chain of charter schools teaching creationism, a charter school closing abruptly for mysterious reasons, a charter high school operating as a for-profit ‘basketball factory,’ recruiting players from around the world while delivering a sub-par education.
“Here and there, stories emerged: a charter school trying to open up inside the walls of a gated community while a closed one continued to get more than $2 million in taxpayer funds. Stories about charter operators being found guilty of embezzling thousands of taxpayer dollars turned into other stories about operators stealing even more thousands of dollars, which turned into even more stories about operators stealing over a million dollars.
“While some charter schools schemed to steer huge percentages of their money away from instruction toward management salaries and property leases (to firms connected to the charter owners, of course), others worked the system to make sure fewer students with special needs were in their classrooms.
“Then the steady drip-drip from local news sources turned into a fire hose in May when a blockbuster report released by Integrity in Education and the Center for Popular Democracy revealed, ‘Fraudulent charter operators in 15 states are responsible for losing, misusing, or wasting over $100 million in taxpayer money.’
“The report, ‘Charter School Vulnerabilities to Waste, Fraud And Abuse,’ combed through news stories, criminal records and other documents to find hundreds of cases of charter school operators embezzling funds, using tax dollars to illegally support other, non-educational businesses, taking public dollars for services they didn’t provide, inflating their enrollment numbers to boost revenues, and putting children in potential danger by forgoing safety regulations or withholding services.
“The Center for Popular Democracy, Integrity in Education and ACTION United published a continuation of their charter schools study with a new report that disclosed charter school officials in Pennsylvania had defrauded at least $30 million intended for schoolchildren since 1997.
“Startling examples of charter school financial malfeasance revealed by the authors included an administrator who diverted $2.6 million in school funds to a church property he also operated. Another charter school chief was caught spending millions in school funds to bail out other nonprofits associated with the school. A pair of charter school operators stole more than $900,000 from the school by using fraudulent invoices, and a cyberschool entrepreneur diverted $8 million of school funds for houses, a Florida condominium and an airplane.
“Then, in November, the Center for Popular Democracy, with the Alliance for Quality Education, submitted yet another continuation of its analysis of charter school financial fraud, this time finding as much as $54 million in suspected charter school fraud in New York state.
“More recently, a widely circulated report from progressive news outlet ProPublica revealed how charter schools increasingly use arrangements known as ‘sweeps’ contracts to send nearly all of a school’s public dollars – anywhere from 95 to 100 percent — into for-profit charter-management companies.
“Surveys show the public generally doesn’t get what charter schools are and don’t understand whether they are private or public or whether they can charge fees or teach religion. Charter operators themselves have muddled their image by arguing successfully in numerous confrontations with legal authorities that ‘they are exempt from rules that govern traditional public schools, ranging from labor laws to constitutional protections for students.’
“But a recent poll in Michigan, a state where rampant charter fraud has been well publicized, found that 73 percent of responders say they want a moratorium on the creation of new charter schools.
“Forecasts about what 2015 will bring to the education landscape frequently foresee more charter schools as charter-friendly lawmakers continue to act witlessly to proliferate these schools. But make no mistake, the charter school scandals of 2014 forever altered the narrative about what these institutions really bring to the populace.”