There are undoubtedly wonderful charter schools in existence, and Americans generally have a favorable opinion of charters, but hardly a week goes by without news of a scandal or a study tarnishing their image.
With schools reopening everywhere across the country, the past week was no exception in exposing new problems with an idea that was once thought of as a collaborative endeavor between teacher unions and school administrators aimed at serving struggling students, but has now become a heavily funded, well-marketed movement designed to siphon money away from traditional public schools.
Leading off the charter scandal parade was Pennsylvania where an auditor general found that the state’s largest charter school pocketed $1.2 million “in improper lease-reimbursement payments.” The scheme the school was running has become all too familiar to anyone following charter school nefariousness.
First, you take a building, “previously owned by one of the charter school’s founders,” and use municipal bonds to sell it – in this case, for $50.7 million – at very favorable terms to a “related nonprofit organization ‘established for the sole purpose of supporting’ the charter school.” Then “the same individual who was once the charter’s landlord” creates a for-profit management company to run the school. And voila, what was once a public endeavor focused on educating children for the sole purpose of raising the well being of the community becomes a financial bonanza for a few well-placed individuals – one of whom, in this case, just happens to be “a Republican fund-raiser” who served on the governor’s “transition team.”
This Pennsylvania charter was no lone outlaw, as the state auditor noted. “His office had found similar problems at six other charter schools.”
Commentary by The Secular Jurist: In this new global age of crony capitalism where ethics and morality sit in the back of our greed-driven economic bus, the real intent of privatizing America’s public institutions becomes clear. The primary goal of so-called free market proponents is the consolidation of money and power. All other considerations are secondary, including the quality of our children’s education They employ heated rhetoric to demonize that which obstructs their agenda using phrases like “government is inefficient,” “public education has failed,” “teachers are the problem,” “unions are killing jobs,” and “socialism is destroying America.” They use this language because it is effective at swaying the uninformed ranks of public opinion, while also providing a smokescreen for their highly questionable motivations. What they are preaching has nothing to do with legitimate free market solutions to societal problems, but has everything to do with the establishment of an authoritarian plutocracy in America and throughout the rest of the world.