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Wednesday, April 3, 2019

We waste billions on charter schools, so DeSantis and Tallahassee want to invest even more.

Defenders of charters will point to a recent study put up Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran a man whose family has benefitted off his legislation expanding charters as proof that charters have a place. I don’t think anything Corcoran not an educator by trade should be taken even remotely seriously.
This however is about the billions the country has wasted on charter schools, where Florida who has seen 359 charter schools fail, must be near or at the top of that waste.
Think about that friends, billions wasted and lives and communities thrown into turmoil.
From the Washington Post:
 The U.S. government has wasted up to $1 billion on charter schools that never opened, or opened and then closed because of mismanagement and other reasons, according to a report from an education advocacy group. The study also says the U.S. Education Department does not adequately monitor how its grant money is spent.
The report, titled “Asleep at the Wheel” and issued by the nonprofit advocacy group Network for Public Education, says:

More than 1,000 grants were given to schools that never opened, or later closed because of mismanagement, poor performance, lack of enrollment or fraud. “Of the schools awarded grants directly from the department between 2009 and 2016, nearly one in four either never opened or shut its doors,” it says. 

Some grants in the 25-year-old federal Charter School Program (CSP) have been awarded to charters that set barriers to enrollment of certain students. Thirty-four California charter schools that received grants appear on an American Civil Liberties Union list of charters “that discriminate — in some cases illegally — in admissions.” 

The department’s grant approval process for charters has been sorely lacking, with “no attempt to verify the information presented” by applicants. 

The Education Department in Republican and Democratic administrations has “largely ignored or not sufficiently addressed” recommendations to improve the program made by its own inspector general. 

“Our investigation finds the U.S. Department of Education has not been a responsible steward of taxpayer dollars in its management of the CSP,” it says. 

You would think decent folks not blinded by an irrational hatred of public schools or greed would pull back from the failed promise of charters at this point. Even one of their few talking points that students who went to charters do better in college took a big hit this week, and that’s because charter supporters always seize on some data point no matter how tenuous and run with it, until it unravels that is.  

From Chalkbeat: 

Attending a sought-after charter middle school didn’t increase a student’s chance of attending or graduating college, a new U.S. Department of Education study showed. 

The report, released Monday, also found little connection between charter school quality, as measured by test scores, and college outcomes. 

“The overall conclusion that there is little difference between charter schools and non-charter schools is not shocking to me,” said Sarah Cohodes, a professor at Columbia University’s Teachers College. She pointed to prior research showing charters perform comparably to district schools nearby. 

Cohodes said that while the study’s use of random lotteries allowed it to convincingly establish cause and effect, it looked at a relatively small sample of 31 schools, only three of which served predominantly low-income students. 

Still, the results are a disappointing data point for charter advocates who hoped the publicly funded, privately run schools would improve students’ college prospects. 

The research arm of the Department of Education released the study. A spokesperson for Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, a proponent of charter schools, did not respond to an email seeking comment. 

If you remember correctly, charters were initial sold as saviors for minority children trapped by their zip codes, well friends that talking point has almost completely disappeared as now they are sold as choice as they more and more open up in neighborhoods with great schools.  

So as the charter school myth begins to fade what does DeSantis want to do? He wants to give massive tax breaks so even more open up. 

From Politico: Gov. Ron DeSantis wants to leverage a tax incentive championed by President Donald Trump to launch a five-fold expansion of charter schools in the state.  

Some 250 Florida communities could be candidates for the new charter schools under the DeSantis plan.  

The DeSantis budget proposed linking the state‘s Schools of Hope program to federal "opportunity zones"created by Trump’s $1.5 billion tax plan. The zones, which were championed by policymakers on the left and right, offer tax incentives to encourage private investment in economically distressed and lower-income communities. 

At least 247 Florida communities would be eligible for Hope schools, up from 47 currently, if lawmakers approve the DeSantis plan. The governor’s budget also includes additional incentives to charter schools, such as money for construction.  

Hope schools currently are permitted to open their doors only near “persistently low-performing schools” that fail to earn a grade of C or better from the state three years in a row. The program was championed in 2017 by then-House Speaker Richard Corcoran.  

About 50 schools were on the list in 2017-18

Opportunity zones were created by the federal Tax Cut and Jobs Act of 2017 with the goal of reducing taxes for job creators while encouraging investment and attracting business to underdeveloped communities. Former Gov. Rick Scott recommended 247 communities across Florida for the program.  

DeSantis wants to give Hope charter schools more turf by expanding program guidelines to allow charters to open in areas Scott designated as opportunity zones last year.  

In addition to opening more communities to Hope schools, DeSantis recommended changing the definition of a low-performing school to give charters even more opportunity to expand. In the DeSantis budget, “persistently low-performing schools” would be those receiving a grade below C for three out of five years, as opposed to three consecutive years. 

They can continue to throw billions at charter schools, and they can change make them easier to open too repeating the waste of the last twenty years and as long as them making a profit is their number one priority, not educating children like Public schools, then charters by and large will remain a disaster. 

Friends instead of continuing these failed charter school policies let me suggest an innovative idea, and that’s let’s invest in our public schools instead. That we give them the tools and resources that they need to succeed.  

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