Charter Schools: Lack of Oversight and Accountability

Charter Schools: Lack of Oversight and Accountability

Overview

By David Love

charter-schools

Harlem Success Academy 5

 

This comes as the Black Lives Matter movement weighs in on the issue of education. The Movement for Black Lives issued a sweeping policy paper called A Vision for Black Lives, which included a section on education entitled, “An End to the Privatization of Education and Real Community Control by Parents, Students and Community Members of Schools Including Democratic School Boards and Community Control of Curriculum, Hiring, Firing, and Discipline Policies.”  The report argues that 60 years after Brown v. Board of Education, the school-to-prison pipeline denies Black people the right to an education, while school privatization removes the ability of Black people to determine the type of education their children receive.

“This systematic attack is coordinated by an international education privatization agenda, bankrolled by billionaire philanthropists such as Bill and Melinda Gates, the Walton Family, and Eli and Edythe Broad, and aided by the departments of Education at the federal, state, and local level. Inequitable funding at the school district, local and state level leave most public schools — where poor communities of color are the majority — unable to provide adequate and high quality education for all students, criminalizing and targeting Black students through racist zero­ tolerance discipline policies,” according to the report. The Movement for Black Lives demands education as a human right, protected by the federal government; an end to state takeover and mayoral control of the schools; democratic structures such as people’s assemblies to allow parental governance, fully funded schools, and federal funding only to school districts with fully elected school boards.

“There are a couple of things one has to unpack.  One is, are they good or bad?  You can set aside whether any individual charter school is good, and some are,” Susan DeJarnatt, a professor at Temple University Beasley School of Law and a leading national expert on charter schools, told Atlanta Black Star.

According to DeJarnatt, even with good charter schools, there is a funding problem.  In most states, school districts fund the charter schools by paying the per-pupil expenditure for each student enrolled.  In Philadelphia, for example, the school district must pay a charter school $7,000 in taxpayer funds for each charter student, including students who were not previously enrolled in the district. DeJarnatt notes that this is a loss of revenue the public school cannot make up.

In his blog, “With A Brooklyn Accent,” Mark Naison, a professor of African American Studies and History at Fordham University, argues that the scandals facing charter schools — including “mistreatment of students, teachers, and families, and fiscal issues ranging from mismanagement to outright embezzlement and fraud”— resemble the subprime mortgage crisis.

“In each instance, an institution initially aimed at expanding opportunity for those with limited resources became, because of government favoritism and lack of oversight, a vehicle for profit taking on a grand scale by the very privileged that sometimes left those the institution was designed to help in very bad shape,” he wrote.

“Research has shown us that these charter schools are arising in poor communities where the students are African-American, Hispanic, Southeast Asian, and one of the things research has shown is the expansion of charters schools mirrors predatory lending,” Dr. Duvall-Flynn said.  “When the tax base is low, less money is going to the public,” she explained.  “Schools have less resources, it is harder to maintain the facilities, harder to maintain sufficient teaching staff.  We also noticed over the years that charter schools were leading to the resegregation of the schools. In that resegregation process, they were re-creating the white supremacy model,” she said, using Chester, Pennsylvania, as an example.  “The (Chester) school district is paying the charter school millions of dollars, and the public schools were going without physics, libraries.  None of that is available because of the funding.”

e debate over charter schools — and whether they provide a benefit or do harm to Black and low-income children — is brewing once again.  And the Civil Rights and Black Power movements are drawing a line in the sand.  This, as parents seek control over their children’s schools and the educational process.

The NAACP, the nation’s oldest civil rights organization, recently passed a resolution at their national convention in Cincinnati calling for a ban on privately managed charter schools.  The resolution said the following:

* “Charter schools have contributed to the increased segregation rather than diverse integration of our public school system.”

* “Weak oversight of charter schools puts students and communities at risk of harm, public funds at risk of being wasted, and further erodes local control of public education.”

* “[R]esearchers have warned that charter school expansions in low-income communities mirror predatory lending practices that led to the sub-prime mortgage disaster, putting schools and communities impacted by these practices at great risk of loss and harm…”

The civil rights organization also called for a moratorium on the growth of charter schools, a review of their disciplinary practices, an end to charter school exploitation of communities and neighborhoods, and transparency and enforcement of laws to prevent fraud, waste and corruption.

“At the NAACP we have looked holistically at the whole charter school movement, and we think there should be a moratorium on charter school expansion and oversight over the charter schools,” Dr. Joan Evelyn Duvall-Flynn, president of the Pennsylvania Conference of NAACP Branches and an educator, told Atlanta Black Star.  “The money is going missing, there is no local control, the discipline has proven harsh, and they’re resegregating the children.  There are all the things that the NAACP has worked for 107 years to change.”

This comes as the Black Lives Matter movement weighs in on the issue of education. The Movement for Black Lives issued a sweeping policy paper called A Vision for Black Lives, which included a section on education entitled, “An End to the Privatization of Education and Real Community Control by Parents, Students and Community Members of Schools Including Democratic School Boards and Community Control of Curriculum, Hiring, Firing, and Discipline Policies.”  The report argues that 60 years after Brown v. Board of Education, the school-to-prison pipeline denies Black people the right to an education, while school privatization removes the ability of Black people to determine the type of education their children receive.

“This systematic attack is coordinated by an international education privatization agenda, bankrolled by billionaire philanthropists such as Bill and Melinda Gates, the Walton Family, and Eli and Edythe Broad, and aided by the departments of Education at the federal, state, and local level. Inequitable funding at the school district, local and state level leave most public schools — where poor communities of color are the majority — unable to provide adequate and high quality education for all students, criminalizing and targeting Black students through racist zero­ tolerance discipline policies,” according to the report. The Movement for Black Lives demands education as a human right, protected by the federal government; an end to state takeover and mayoral control of the schools; democratic structures such as people’s assemblies to allow parental governance, fully funded schools, and federal funding only to school districts with fully elected school boards.

“There are a couple of things one has to unpack.  One is, are they good or bad?  You can set aside whether any individual charter school is good, and some are,” Susan DeJarnatt, a professor at Temple University Beasley School of Law and a leading national expert on charter schools, told Atlanta Black Star.

According to DeJarnatt, even with good charter schools, there is a funding problem.  In most states, school districts fund the charter schools by paying the per-pupil expenditure for each student enrolled.  In Philadelphia, for example, the school district must pay a charter school $7,000 in taxpayer funds for each charter student, including students who were not previously enrolled in the district. DeJarnatt notes that this is a loss of revenue the public school cannot make up.

In his blog, “With A Brooklyn Accent,” Mark Naison, a professor of African American Studies and History at Fordham University, argues that the scandals facing charter schools — including “mistreatment of students, teachers, and families, and fiscal issues ranging from mismanagement to outright embezzlement and fraud”— resemble the subprime mortgage crisis.

“In each instance, an institution initially aimed at expanding opportunity for those with limited resources became, because of government favoritism and lack of oversight, a vehicle for profit taking on a grand scale by the very privileged that sometimes left those the institution was designed to help in very bad shape,” he wrote.

“Research has shown us that these charter schools are arising in poor communities where the students are African-American, Hispanic, Southeast Asian, and one of the things research has shown is the expansion of charters schools mirrors predatory lending,” Dr. Duvall-Flynn said.  “When the tax base is low, less money is going to the public,” she explained.  “Schools have less resources, it is harder to maintain the facilities, harder to maintain sufficient teaching staff.  We also noticed over the years that charter schools were leading to the resegregation of the schools. In that resegregation process, they were re-creating the white supremacy model,” she said, using Chester, Pennsylvania, as an example.  “The (Chester) school district is paying the charter school millions of dollars, and the public schools were going without physics, libraries.  None of that is available because of the funding.”