By Brian Washington
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Education activists across the country are being put on alert to help raise awareness about the need for higher standards and more accountability for charter schools to protect the public’s investment in these schools and ensure that students’ needs are being met.
Next week charter school industry insiders will kick off what they call “School Choice Week,” a campaign to promote unaccountable charter schools—which are at the center of several reports concerning waste, fraud, and abuse—as an alternative to traditional public schools.
However, the Center for Popular Democracy (CPD) is asking pro-public education activists to use this time to demand answers from politicians and charter school proponents about what it calls “essential gaps in accountability and fraud looming over the charter sector.”
5 Questions to Ask During School Choice Week
CPD’s “5 Questions to Ask During School Choice Week” will help public education advocates demand answers to the critical issues surrounding charter schools and their impact on students and public education. The questions include the following:
- How much money has your state lost to charter waste, fraud, and abuse?
- Are charter operators required to establish strong business practices that guard against fraud, waste, mismanagement, and abuse? Do regulators in your state have the authority and resources to regularly assess charter school business practices?
- Does your state require charter school operators and their boards of directors to provide adequate documentation to regulators ensuring funds are spent on student success?
- Can your state adequately monitor the way charters spend public dollars including who charter operators are subcontracting with for public services?
- Are online charter operators audited for quality of services provided to students and financial transparency?
More Standards and Accountability Needed
More than 2 million students attended the nation’s more than 6,000 taxpayer-funded charter schools. But unfortunately, oversight is not keeping up with the growth of these schools—leaving huge gaps for fraud and other abuses to take place. The bottom line—taxpayers are literally left paying the price.
A recent study, published by CPD, alleges that about 100 million in taxpayer dollars has been lost to fraud, waste, and abuse nationwide in relation to the charter school industry. In Pennsylvania, CPD alleges that these problems are costing about $30 million and $64 million in New York. It also states that, given the lack of regulation for charter schools, these reports are merely the tip of the iceberg.
Meanwhile, the prestigious Annenberg Institute at Brown University has also issued a report on charters calling for higher standards regarding accountability, transparency, and equity.
What can you do?
CPD is asking education advocates to share the links to the questions and the various reports mentioned above via social media with other supporters of public schools and lawmakers in your state.
You can use Twitter to ask local politicians (using their @handle) the questions mentioned above and, when you do, be sure to use the hashtag #questions4charters.
Also, visit the Education Votes charter schools page to get more information about how charters are impacting students and public education.