It seemed like a good idea at the time, at least to some…

The charter school concept was first voiced by University of Massachusetts professor Ray Budde back in 1974, but such schools got their true start in 1988 when Albert Shanker, then president of the American Federation of Teachers, called for education reform and touted them as models of innovation.

Minnesota was the first to pass a charter law in 1991; California followed suit the next year, and the movement took off from there. Charter schools now operate legally in 44 states, as well as D.C., Guam, and Puerto Rico, with thanks to Republican and Democrat politicians, alike.

Indeed, team Obama and his Education Secretary Arne Duncan gave billions in tax dollars to the charter school industry. In 2016, he proudly proclaimed May 1 to May 6 as National Charter Schools Week.

Now Trump is at the helm, along with Ed Secretary Betsy DeVos, and billions of taxpayer dollars keep right on pouring into the school choice movement.

In fact, DeVos recently awarded her home state Michigan with $47 million to open more charters. 80% of those already in place operate for profit–with dismal result. Take Detroit where more than 50% of its students attend a charter. On the latest National Assessment of Educational Assessment, aka The Nation’s Report Card, their scores were the lowest in the country—yet again.

Charter School Stats by Niche:

  • 5.4% of all students attend a charter school
  • 56.5% of charters are in a city
  • A total of 2,721,786 students attend a charter school

Of all those charter school kids:

  • California has the largest number enrolled: 544,293—8.7% of total public schoolers
  • D.C. has the highest percentage with 34,541 enrolled–42.7% of its total public schoolers
  • Arizona has the second highest percentage of attendees at 18%

As for the country’s 400 full-time virtual variety, the Education Policy Center finds they enroll some 300,000 kids—with only some of the money going toward educating them. The rest goes to the district or a private company, which is free to do as it wants with the money.

And now they’re on to the potential pre-school $70 billion online market in the name of kindergarten readiness. Little kids don’t learn and socialize harnessed to screens, but the experts be damned. What matters is tech’s reach and the money to be had.

Meanwhile,  about Pennsylvania’s 15 cyber charters schools, blogger Steven Singer reports that 10 of them operated with expired charters–and NOT ONE has ever met state standards. As he puts it: “They should all be closed down.”

A sampling of more negative school choice news:

  • Only about 2% of Indiana’s publicly funded Virtual Pathways Academy’s 1,009 seniors graduated last year.
  • New Mexico recently paid out $6 million to its virtual Connections Academy for students no longer enrolled.
  • Last year, Florida charter operator Marcus May was fined $5 million for sending millions into his personal accounts and sentenced to prison for 20 years on two counts of racketeering and one of organized fraud.
  • A team of investigative Arizona Republic reporters recently received the distinguished Polk Award for “disclosing insider deals, no-bid contracts, and political chicanery that provided windfall profits for investors in a number of prominent Arizona charter schools, often at the expense of underfunded public schools…”

And that’s just the tip of it all…

To lend your support to our protesting teachers and parents:

  1. Click here to ask your House of Representatives and Senate members to sign on to the “Public Schools Week,” March 25-29, resolution. (The letter is provided.)
  2. Pennsylvania residents, also click here to join the push for cyber school funding reform and saving taxpayers at least $250 million. (Letter also provided.)

It’s an effort worth supporting… Many thanks, Carol