I was planning to give a far different testimony today, complimenting some commissioners for their comments to charter operators at the last meeting. It seemed that the District was moving toward more charter oversight, particularly on compliance issues regarding ELL standards and other common charter violations.
But I scrapped that upon reading a story today about secret backroom meetings held during the past 6 months between the District and heads of charter companies to create their own proposed charter law that would, in effect, grease the skids for charter expansion and renewals. Chair Wilkerson should tell the public whether any commissioners were present at or informed about those meetings. However, not included in any of these backroom meetings were members of the public – parents, students, taxpayers, community members – in other words, stakeholders. The exclusion of traditional public school supporters is a testament to the underhanded purpose of such secret meetings. Following the proposed HB 97 State charter law logic, or this alternate plan promoting built in expansion, eventually there will be no traditional public schools left, or at least any that these companies want.
Charter operators are now taking the stance that not only do they have a right to obtain and renew charters, they shouldn’t have to answer to anyone about how well or how poorly they do. They shouldn’t be held accountable for fiscal impropriety, including theft of public money for a company’s other NON-District schools, like Aspira, or imminent financial collapse, as the District knew about Universal’s finances before they suddenly abandoned 3 schools, mid-year, in Milwaukee. Charter operators don’t want to be held accountable for years of performing no better, and even worse, than District schools although they proclaim themselves to be the saviors of education as well as the reason for being given these schools. Mastery, Belmont Charter, Boys Latin, American Paradigm’s Mercy Street and KIPP schools are examples.
This is the modern-day version of corporate raiders of the 1980’s and 90’s who savaged existing companies, many of which were flourishing, forcing them into bankruptcy while the corporate raiders dismantled the companies while walking away with windfall profit shares. This is what corporate enterprises do – overwhelm and overcome their competition using big advertising budgets in order to maximize their profits. As I testified before City Council yesterday, charter schools have been overtaken from their original purpose of educational innovation by corporate entities who hide behind supposed non-profit companies. But make no mistake, hedge-funders don’t invest in non-profits for nothing.
Uri Monson states repeatedly, that the largest driver of increased District costs are payments to charter schools. So, instead of the District being able to invest in its own schools, we are forced to provide increasing amounts of seed money for private business growth and expansion.