Charter School Accountability

There has been a lot of conversation lately regarding charter schools and their effects on a community. Educationally and economically, they can put stress on a district.

I have done a lot of research on charter schools and found that they can be either good or bad. Charter schools were created to offer an alternative setting for students to be successful. The problem is that they have become a way for big business to make money, and educating children has become less important.

An example of this is The Brighter Choice Foundation in Albany, NY. They are a “management company” that gives “advice” to charter schools within the Albany School District. At their highest point they managed 11 public charter schools and each school paid around $1,000,000 for fees and rent. That’s over $10,000,000 per year going to the Foundation and not the education of children.

Albany taxpayers vote on the public school budget every year and they can see where their money is being spent. Over $30,000,000 is given to charter schools and no one can tell them what to do with the money. This is why a third of the money can go to the businessmen who have no background in education. These businessmen get paid even if the schools close due to poor test scores and low enrollment. As the schools are underperforming they are still getting paid and will continue to get paid until the schools close and the undereducated children go back to the district public school.

Currently there are 8 schools in the Brighter Choice Network and 2 are set to close at the end of the 2014-2015 school year. Albany students are choosing the district schools and Brighter Choice has to find new students. They had to go outside the Albany School District and send flyers to surrounding districts to recruit new students.

These districts, schools, and taxpayers cannot stop the charter schools. They cannot stop the $1,000,000 fees that are funneled through the businesses associated with the public charter schools. A smaller district outside Albany that has 10 students decide to try the charter school can cost their taxpayers $150,000 and 30 students can affect a budget by $500,000. Within five to ten years a management company can earn $100,000,000 and if the school closes they can just retire or open another one.

I am not anti-charter school; however, public charter schools cannot remain educationally and financially unaccountable. I believe taxpayers should have control of why and how their money is being spent. This accountability will help charter schools to rise to the occasion or close down. Either way it’s ok.