New report adds fuel to argument for tougher charter standards to protect students, taxpayers


by Brian Washington

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Another report is shining new light on alleged instances of fraud and abuse connected to charter schools.

The report, titled “The Tip of the Iceberg: Charter School Vulnerabilities to Waste, Fraud, and Abuse,” was released earlier this week and charges the financial total connected to waste and mismanagement in the charter school sector is as high as $203 million.

The study was released by the Center for Popular Democracy and the Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools and has managed to get the attention of the Washington Post’s Valerie Strauss, who wrote a column about it. Here’s some of what she had to say:

It (the 2015 report) follows a similar report released a year ago by the same groups that detailed $136 million in fraud and waste and mismanagement in 15 of the 42 states that operate charter schools. The 2015 report cites $203 million, including the 2014 total plus $23 million in new cases, and $44 million in earlier cases not included in last year’s report. It notes that these figures only represent fraud and waste in the charter sector uncovered so far, and that the total federal, state, and local governments ‘stand to lose’ in 2015 is probably more than $1.4 billion.

The authors of the report charge that the vast majority of fraud, waste, and mismanagement connected to charters will go undetected due to poor oversight at the federal, state, and local levels. To protect the public’s investment and get the best possible outcome for students, they make several recommendations including the following:

  • Required audits to detect and prevent fraud;
  • More transparency and accountability regarding charter operators, managers, and the information reported to state agencies charged with preventing fraud; and
  • Clear planning-based public investments to ensure that any expansions of charter school investments ensure equity, transparency, and accountability.
CPD National Report Meme (2)
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CPD and the Alliance are also asking lawmakers to add stronger oversight requirements to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, known to many as No Child Left Behind, which is up for reauthorization this year and is currently being debated in Congress.

Meanwhile, the Annenberg Institute, located at Brown University, is also advocating for more oversight and accountability for charter schools. In September, Annenberg released a set of recommended standards and guidelines for charters to protect the interests of students and taxpayers. Annenberg says legislative bodies in several states across the country are considering taking action in relation to the standards, including the Nashville school board, which is currently considering a resolution to endorse similar standards.

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Reader Comments

  1. This all starts from the 1% who want to dictate everything in this country, including what schools teach and how they’re run. If the USA institutes campaign finance reform, instead of education reform, this anti-democratic takeover and “reform” of our schools wouldn’t be happening.

  2. Here’s an idea: require charter school teachers to be paid the exact same salaries, have the same protections and benefits as other teachers in the district, and allow them to be union members. Require that charter school curriculums align with state standards. Forbid for-profit charter schools from taking over failing schools and using scare and bullying tactics to get established. Charter schools should be under the district school board, and not micromanaged by committees of parents who don’t know what they are doing and only want to make sure that Johnny gets As.

  3. This is an attempt to destroy traditional public education. They have their own private funding and they take our tax money, but they aren’t required to accept all children They are given public facilities. I don’t understand- traditional schools are inadequate; teachers in traditional public schools are inadequate- and the solution is to give public money to private companies?

  4. Agree with Lynn..she needed to add: the dollar profits (greed) to be made by those engineering the corruption of public education, the move to destroy public education and to confuse the citizenry through misguided,clever forms of media how great and successful it is…there are no real rule/regulations for their operations…accountability and transparency do not exist for them as it seemingly does not exist in much of our governmental agencies.

  5. A better recommendation would be to NOT allow tax-payer dollars to fund any Charter Schools. That would eliminate fraud and put public money back into Public Education where it belongs. We already have all the laws, accountibility, teacher certification, parental rights and oversight needed in our established educational system. Charter Schools are nothing more than a license to steal and a tool to destroy universal public education.

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