Total Pageviews

Search This Blog

Monday, August 9, 2021

How are Gary Chartrand and charter schools still a thing?

 When the Times Union publishes its quarterly screed from Gary Chartrand about the benefits of school choice and saving kids from failing public schools it always makes me shake my head and sigh. Of all the people one can listen to about education, he should be at the bottom of the list. 

Mr. Chartrand a grocer by trade parlayed huge donations to Rick Scott into a position on the state board of education, where draconian measures became the state policy of the day. Funding to school districts decreased (we still aren’t back to 2007 levels), teacher salaries decreased, the number of unfunded mandates exploded and testing became the end all be all in our public education system under Chartrand’s watch. 

In his latest submission, he says charter schools are public schools and technically he may be right, but the reality is they are publicly funded private schools that must take the state tests. Charter schools unlike traditional public schools pick who they take and keep and are exempt from many of the rules and fore mentioned unfunded mandates that traditional public schools are required to follow.    

Furthermore, most charter schools’ priority is not to educate children, it is to make money, after all, they are businesses first, and schools are somewhere down the list.  

I am sure in a rebuttal letter Mr. Chartrand would say all charters have to be non-profits, but like most things he says about education, that only tells a fraction of the story. Let’s take the Charter School USA model as an example. Duval has a half dozen CUSA schools.   

CUSA in reality is a for-profit management company, and like many charters, they are hired by a nonprofit to run their schools. Also like many charters, both the nonprofit and management company are run by the same people. They also have a construction arm that will build and lease the charter school back to the nonprofit at a substantial mark up, and that’s the game, real estate. Mr. Chartrand knows this too because the school he represents KIPP recently sold itself to another sister entity so it could pay rent to it. How big of a practice is this? Well according to an article in the Times Union 29 of Duval’s 32 schools are leased. 

Sadly, Mr. Chartrand has a basic misunderstands of what charters were supposed to be. They were supposed to be parent/teacher-driven laboratories of innovation, not profit centers for investors and hedge funds. This innovation was supposed to be then brought back and replicated in public schools. Charters weren’t supposed to compete with public schools, they were supposed to be partners and help innovate them.   

Let’s take a quick look at some of the charters here in Jacksonville. Mandarin an area of town with some of the finest schools not just in the city but in the state as well has more charters than anywhere else in the city. What are these parents fleeing? A good education for their children is what.  

DCPS has approved two Charter schools run by a woman named Erica Donalds who has said gay people don’t have to burn in hell and has advocated for the burning of books. They, the Classical Academies also get their curriculum from the far-right Hillsdale college which some have compared to white supremacists. We approved four new IDEA charter schools which recently fired their founder and CEO for financial malfeasance and are allowing another charter school to be built right across the road of an A-rated school. You are probably asking why we would approve these schools. Well during Mr. Chartrand’s time in the state board, Florida made it nearly impossible to say no to any charter school application.   

I would also like to point out that hundreds of charter schools in Florida have opened, taken public money, and failed, including two of Chartrand’s KIPP schools.   

I want to acknowledge that some charters do it right, they are good stewards of public money and bring innovative teaching methods to their students, but those schools aren’t nearly as plentiful as Chartrand would have the people reading his quarterly Times Union submission believe. Public education, and that handful of charters that are good partners with it, not publicly funded for-profit businesses, not charters as Florida does them, is where our limited resources should go.   

No comments:

Post a Comment