Get sick, get well
Hang around a ink well
Ring bell, hard to tell
If anything is goin' to sell
-- Bob Dylan

Friday, May 9, 2014

Duncan ignored his own I.G.'s warnings on charter fraud

The purpose of this report is to echo the warning issued by the OIG and to inform the public and lawmakers of the mounting risk that an inadequately regulated charter industry presents to our communities and taxpayers. 
NEW REPORT ON CHARTERS...“Charter School Vulnerabilities to Waste, Fraud And Abuse,” authored by the Center for Popular Democracy and Integrity in Education, echoes a warning from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of the Inspector General.

The report draws upon news reports, criminal complaints and more to detail how, in just 15 of the 42 states that have charter schools, charter operators have used school funds illegally to buy personal luxuries for themselves, support their other businesses, and more. The report also includes recommendations for policymakers on how they can address the problem of rampant fraud, waste and abuse in the charter school industry. Both organizations recommend pausing charter expansion until these problems are addressed.

The report explained that the problem has its roots in a historical disconnect between the original intentions that launched the charter school movement and the commercial forces that have overtaken it since. At first, the report noted:
    Lawmakers created charter schools to allow educators to explore new methods and models of teaching. To allow this to happen, they exempted the schools from the vast majority of regulations governing the traditional public school system. The goal was to incubate innovations that could then be used to improve public schools. i The ability to take calculated risks with small populations of willing teachers, parents, and students was the original design. With so few people and schools involved, the risk to participants and the public was relatively low. -- Salon
The report references a memorandum issued by the OIG to the Department. The OIG stated that the purpose of the memorandum was to, “alert you of our concern about vulnerabilities in the oversight of charter schools.” The report went on to state that the OIG had experienced, “a steady increase in the number of charter school complaints” and that state level agencies were failing “to provide adequate oversight needed to ensure that Federal funds [were] properly used and accounted for.”

IN NYC... In a contentious hearing Tuesday, City Councilman Daniel Dromm wondered aloud whether the city's 183 charter schools, which receive taxpayer money but are privately managed, were creating "educational apartheid" in the nation's largest school system. Mr. Dromm, a Queens Democrat, also said he wants more information about how charter schools discipline children and how much they pay their executives. --- WSJ

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