Sunday, March 27, 2011

CHARTER SCHOOL SWINDLES: picking the public purse for private profit

Charter schools have become well established. Liberals sometimes even join conservatives in promoting them. But in what ways are charter schools actually better than traditional public schools?

Are charter schools better academically? No, they don’t consistently deliver superior results. Some do better than traditional public schools — at least as measured by standardized testing. But some traditional public schools also test better than some charter schools. In short there is no clear-cut winner.

We’re assured that charter schools expose public schooling to the cleansing fires of competition. But what sort of competition? Charter schools  operate in relative freedom while traditional public schools remain hemmed in by volume after volume of government regulations? Moreover, charters can be sneakily selective. Cannily prohibiting entry to potentially troublesome kids and expelling those they find were a mistake to admit. Ordinary public schools are unable to do either.  So competition between charter and traditional public schools  is like a race between a free running and hobbled horse. This allegedly cleansing competition is fixed.

Charter schools do  typically often offer more curricular variety than traditional public schools. But there again, traditional public schools are limited by regulation in what they can offer. Plus some of the variety supposedly offered by charter schools is bogus. What is one to make, for instance, of inner city charter schools claiming to emphasize architecture and design, folk arts or global leadership, for example? Such names surely amount to very little. Remember, many of the inner city kids in attendance can barely read.

Besides, if over-regulation is a major problem with public schools, as charter school advocates claim, why didn’t state officials first try easing the regulatory choke-hold on traditional public schools? Then they could have decided if charter schools were still needed? Of course one reason that option was less attractive to politicos because it wouldn’t open the public purse for as many private interests. Interests that could be counted on for lucrative campaign contributions for those very same politicians. (Not to mention generate make-work charter school jobs for their bone-idle relatives.) 

We’re not talking chump change here. More than $1,000,000,000.00 is spent on public schooling each and every year. And all sorts of people are eager to wet their beaks in this vast lake of public money. This is precisely where charter schools come in. They provide an unprecedented opportunity to do that beak wetting. In fact, this is the only way in which charter schools are clearly superior to traditional public schools. Academic testing clearly proves they are not, on average, better than traditional public schools. But they do open the public purse far wider for all sorts of private interests. That's why the charter school movement attracts a disproportionate number of bunko artists, con-men and flimflammers. All of whom want to wet their beaks. (And let's not forget shady politicians. They get their share in the form of "campaign contributions" from the charter school lobby.)

The fact is ne'er-do-wells are frenetically mining the charter school mother lode by fair means or foul. An exaggeration you say? Try this: Google “charter school" combined with "fraud," then with "embezzlement," then "misuse of funds,” then "shady real estate deals," then "nepotism," then ""Illegal activities." (Make sure you hold on to your hat while you do this!) Now compare your findings with the fact that there are only 7,547 charter schools in the entire nation! You will see that the total number of underhanded doings greatly eclipses the total number of charter schools! (Of course, one school can run up quite a rap sheet all by itself.)

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