Cautionary Tales on Charter Schools from Outside NYC

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Photographers embed among schoolkids at a visit by then-Mayor Bloomberg and U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan to the Kings Collegiate Charter School in 2010. While NYC charter schools are often funded--and lobbied for--with corporate support, direct for-profit ownership is not permitted.

Photo by: Office of the Mayor

Photographers embed among schoolkids at a visit by then-Mayor Bloomberg and U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan to the Kings Collegiate Charter School in 2010. While NYC charter schools are often funded--and lobbied for--with corporate support, direct for-profit ownership is not permitted.

The debate over charter schools in New York City is not an amicable discussion, laced as it is with accusations that one side is protecting unionized teachers at the expense of kids' education, and counter-charges that charter champions are trying to destroy traditional public schools.

Elsewhere, the conversation revolves more around questions of profit and corruption.

The Progressive yesterday reported a litany of corruption allegations against charters elsewhere in the country, like Michael Sharpe, "the disgraced CEO of the FUSE charter school in Hartford [who] admitted in court to faking his academic credentials and hiding the fact that he was a two-time felon who had been convicted of embezzlement and served five years in prison as a result," or Scott Glasrud, "the CEO of Southwest Learning Centers in Albuquerque, a group of four schools including an elementary school and a flight academy, was earning $210,000 a year, as well as additional compensation for a contract he made with his own aviation company to lease planes to the flight school he administered."

"But these are small-time operators compared with Ronald Packard, the CEO of K12, Inc., the scandal-plagued online charter school company," the Progressive wrote. "Packard's salary was $4.1 million in 2013. K12 has been charged with attempting to falsify records, using unqualified teachers, and booking classes of more than 100 students by state investigators in Florida."

Meanwhile, In These Times reported yesterday that a PAC associated by a local chamber of commerce and flush with cash has fueled a take-over by for-profit charter cheerleaders of the local school board in Dallas, and now is pushing to give those leaders a free hand:

For-profit charters have been expanding in Dallas over the past 15 years, especially in the wake of the closure of 11 public schools in early 2012. And the Chamber boasts a number of charter-school operators among its members, including longtime affiliates Uplift Education and Texans

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