by Brian Washington
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Taxpayers continue to be appalled by the millions of dollars allegedly connected to charter school fraud.
A new report, the latest put out by the Center for Popular Democracy (CPD), estimates that charter school fraud has cost taxpayers in the state of New York $54 million [ed note: pdf link]. Keep in mind, the state already spends about $1.5 billion on charter schools in New York City alone.
In fact, corporate charter school companies are lobbying New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio to raise or eliminate the cap on charter schools so even more companies can have an opportunity to abuse the system and make a profit on the backs of students.
“The audacity of some of these operators—to push for more taxpayer dollars while mismanaging the funds they’ve already received—is really astonishing,” said NEA President Lily Eskelsen García. The NEA represents 3-million teachers, education support professionals, students studying to be educators, retired educators, and higher education faculty nationwide.
Everyone knows that oversight doesn’t happen when an entity is policing itself. If New York state is going to continue to allow hundreds of charters to exist within its borders, legislators need to commit the resources to provide regular audits and real oversight. It’s ridiculous to consider lifting charter school caps until operators have a firm oversight structure in place and are transparent with their expenditures and practices.
According to the CPD report, despite the huge investment of public dollars in charter schools, which are considered public schools but are often operated by private companies, the city has failed to implement a system that adequately monitors charters for fraud, waste, and mismanagement. Out of the more than 200 charter schools in the state, only 51 have been audited.
“CPD is shining a spotlight on multiple charter school operators and we’re seeing a sad trend form in terms of corrupt practices,” said Eskelsen García. “Parents and communities deserve to know an operator’s history when considering whether to send their children to these schools. They also deserve transparency so they know what their tax dollars are being spent on, and more importantly, what their money is not being spent on—students.”
In addition to the NY report, CPD has released a similar study regarding charter schools in Pennsylvania, where it says fraud has cost taxpayers there $30 million. CPD has also released a national study alleging that more than $100 million of taxpayer money has been lost to charter school fraud.