Diane Payne testimony to the SRC – January 21, 2016

Diane Payne SRC 1-21-16

Repeatedly we are faced with this commission of unelected and unresponsive appointees voting in lock step to continue the privatization model pushed by corporate America.  You base your justification for these measures by using the language and definitions of the corporate reform community which sound good but are dismissive of reality, (poverty, starvation level resources, communities left to wither and die on all fronts) twisted in content (“all children deserve high performing seats”….of course they do!) and based on false or faulty premises (high stakes tests as the most important measure of success, the claim that charters succeed where publics don’t without ever comparing apples to apples.)

I would like to take a very incomplete look at the expense of this massive experiment on our children.  We know the very hefty, $300,000 price tag for Dr. Hite and we know he has an administrative staff to oversee the SD.  But, so does each of these charter schools.  So this isn’t just a two-tiered system…it is a tiered system with no end in sight.
I looked at the 2014 IRS 990’s of just 8 Charter companies for their administrative costs and it looks something like this:

Mastery – $1,500,000
KIPP – $548,000
MAST – $244,000
Electrical and Technical Charter School – $478,000
Universal Alcorn – $841,000
Young Scholars – $184,000
Franklin Towne Charter Schools – $844,000
Boys Latin – $200,000
For a tidy total of $4,839,000 for just 8 of the charter school operators.

This does not take into account attorney costs, management fees, and who knows what other dark money expenses there may be.  Nor does it take into account any fraud or mismanagement expenses because we do not have the personnel to monitor that effectively.

I am not judging any individual charter school but I am judging the idea that charter school proliferation is the road to educational success and equity.  Here are the questions, as tax payers we deserve answers to:
Are the codes of conduct in all Charter Schools for both children and staff sustainable and reasonable as opposed to inhumane, developmentally inappropriate and/or harmful?

Are the application procedures for all current charter schools fair, transparent and without barriers?

For all charter schools claiming better success than its public counterpart, has all information been made available to the public about all variables such as: per pupil spending, staffing levels per pupil, kinds and numbers of support staff, and student demographics to name a few?

Is there school district staff sufficient to robustly monitor academic, climate and financial claims of each existing charter school?

Are the public schools identified for selling off to charters adequately staffed and resourced?

We, the public, deserve answers to these questions.  In the meantime, keep Cooke and Huey public and vote NO on any additional charters.  Please acknowledge how you will address these questions.  You are selling us snake oil.  Charters are not a silver bullet.  They are an expensive experiment making lots of money for a few.

NOTE: I have never received an answer regarding my question on the Mastery coaches for our district teachers.  What is the premise, the goal and/or the desired outcomes of this program??

An article written by Tamara Anderson for the Examiner, The Mystique of Mastery Charter, very eloquently describes what is behind the curtain of reform.

The Costs of Charter and Cyber Charter Schools report by Education Research and Policy Center