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Fraud, Waste, and Lies: Charter Schools Cheating Communities Out of Millions of Dollars


Business  (tags: US, Charter Schools, privatized education, new report, AllianceToReclaimOurSchools, CenterForPopularDemocracy, fraud, malfeasance, no oversight, federal, state, local govts, losing $$, revelations, Tip of the Iceberg, whistleblowers, investigations )

LucyKalei
- 1480 days ago - commondreams.org
New report finds: Accepting/soliciting bribes; diverting public funds for personal profit; lying re: # students. Fraud & malfeasance cost >$200M! Due to lack of oversight, 'vast majority of the fraud perpetrated by charter officials will go undetected'



   

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LucyKaleido ScopeEyes (82)
Wednesday April 29, 2015, 3:17 pm
The posted Common Dreams, 29April2015 article --"Fraud, Waste, and Lies: Charter Schools Cheating Communities Out of Millions of Dollars" - "New report warns that, due to lack of oversight, 'vast majority of the fraud perpetrated by charter officials will go undetected' " -- came out the day after the new report was covered in the Washington Post. Washington Post journalist Valerie Strauss, who covers education and runs The Answer Sheet blog, has done quite a bit of research & written previous articles which she links to in her coverage of the new report:

"A new report released on Tuesday details fraud and waste totaling more than $200 million of uncovered fraud and waste of taxpayer funds in the charter school sector, but says the total is impossible to know because there is not sufficient oversight over these schools. It calls on Congress to include safeguards in legislation being considered to succeed the federal No Child Left Behind law.

[ Did No Child Left Behind’s test-based reforms fail? Or not?]

The report, titled “The Tip of the Iceberg: Charter School Vulnerabilities To Waste, Fraud, And Abuse,” was released jointly by the nonprofit organizations Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools and the Center for Popular Democracy. It follows a similar report released a year ago by the same groups that detailed $136 million in fraud and waste and mismanagement in 15 of the 42 states that operate charter schools. The 2015 report cites $203 million, including the 2014 total plus $23 million in new cases, and $44 million in earlier cases not included in last year’s report.

It notes that these figures only represent fraud and waste in the charter sector uncovered so far, and that the total that federal, state and local governments “stand to lose” in 2015 is probably more than $1.4 billion. It says, “The vast majority of the fraud perpetrated by charter officials will go undetected because the federal government, the states, and local charter authorizers lack the oversight necessary to detect the fraud.”

[New York City charters leave thousands of seats unfilled despite exploding demand, study finds]

The report makes policy recommendations [see onsite; too long for comment here]

The report details cases across the country, among them:
The District of Columbia [see onsite; too long for comment here];
Michigan [see onsite; too long for comment here];
Ohio [see onsite; too long for comment here];
California [see onsite; too long for comment here];

Also:

In 2010, in an article discussing whether or not to vote Democratic, author wrote: "On education, the Obama administration is leading the charge to push through a right-wing agenda. Under his Race to the Top initiative, $4.39 billion has been used as a bribe for states to drastically restructure their education policies toward the development of charter schools, to weaken teacher seniority, and to pay teachers based on the test scores of their students. If enacted, these policies will create a more unequal two-tier education system in the U.S." @http://marxistupdate.blogspot.fr/2010/11/we-need-to-build-new-movement-in.html

Despite Shocking Reports of Fraud at Charter Schools, Lawmakers Miss Opportunity to Increase Oversight

April 14, 2015, Op-Ed: "Time for a moratorium on charter schools" - "Charters have failed to deliver, and their expansion should be put on hold"

March 17, 2015 - TAKE ACTION: "Reject the expansion of charter schools"

Certainly a very important book - "Charter Schools and the Corporate Makeover of Public Education" (that came out in 2012) reviewed by the Harvard Educational Review, asks "What’s at Stake?" @http://hepg.org/her-home/issues/harvard-educational-review-volume-84-number-1/herbooknote/charter-schools-and-the-corporate-makeover-of-publ
 

jan b (5)
Wednesday April 29, 2015, 3:24 pm
Florida has a huge problem.
 

Past Member (0)
Thursday April 30, 2015, 5:16 am
No excuses
 

Athena F (131)
Thursday April 30, 2015, 5:38 am
thank you
 

LucyKaleido ScopeEyes (82)
Thursday April 30, 2015, 6:36 am
The 'corporate makeover of public education' is not new, but it has received shockingly little attention on C2.

This is something we should be active in opposing, yet I couldn't find a single petition post in my C2 search that gives us the opportunity to take action in defense of public schools and against the corporate propaganda & stranglehold that seems to have taken over American education to the detriment of good ol' public schools & the teachers who are still trying to defend them.

"Charter Schools and the Corporate Makeover of Public Education"

When I posted my comment yesterday, I didn't have time to include the 'vital statistics' for the following important article: May 9, 2014, The Nation blog - "Despite Shocking Reports of Fraud at Charter Schools, Lawmakers Miss Opportunity to Increase Oversight

It's important to see the date, which is clear proof that the problems of fraud & malfeasance are recurrent and were already made public & energetically denounced a year ago (i.e. a year before the latest report that I've posted here), YET what CHANGES have been brought to bear?? Why have these disclosure NOT been taken into account to stop the expansion of charter schools?? And to outlaw those with unethical, criminal practices?

And, re: Socialist Alternative writer Tony Wilsdon's statement in his excellent 2010 brief of Democratic shortcomings & failure, Should You Vote for the Democrats? [ "On education, the Obama administration is leading the charge to push through a right-wing agenda. Under his Race to the Top initiative, $4.39 billion has been used as a bribe for states to drastically restructure their education policies toward the development of charter schools, to weaken teacher seniority, and to pay teachers based on the test scores of their students. If enacted, these policies will create a more unequal two-tier education system in the U.S."], why is OBAMA such an ARDENT supporter of charter schools, which besides the overwhelming evidence of frauds & malfeasance, going back years, are also notorious for increasing INEQUALITY between children of different family background (income level, ethnic groups), which is the LAST thing our society needs! Education is supposed to be the one mechanism, the one institution, that can ERADICATE inequality and make us truly EQUAL in terms of job opportunities & opportunities to live a full, satisfying & committed life as ACTIVE, INFORMED citizens!!
 

LucyKaleido ScopeEyes (82)
Thursday April 30, 2015, 12:57 pm
Just discovered this April 28, 2015 article --highly relevant to the subject here-- on The Progressive site,
"One Newark" Exemplifies the Shock Doctrine


"In her 2007 book, The Shock Doctrine, Naomi Klein describes the takeover of the New Orleans schools in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina as a grand experiment perpetrated by policy makers on a city so vulnerable nobody could protect the public assets that should have been rescued. Klein concludes, “I call these orchestrated raids on the public sphere in the wake of catastrophic events, combined with the treatment of disasters as exciting market opportunities, “disaster capitalism.” (The Shock Doctrine, p. 6)

When we think about the Shock Doctrine applied to education, New Orleans—where the schools were charterized and all the teachers fired—is the example that comes to mind, but our test-and-punish system under the No Child Left Behind Act has branded the schools in our poorest cities as “failures” and created a crisis atmosphere that has also made way for the application of the Shock Doctrine. Back in 2010, Newark Mayor Cory Booker, working with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, seized such an “opportunity” and set up Newark for an experiment in disaster capitalism; he staged his Shock Doctrine live on the Oprah Winfrey Show, where Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg handed Booker $100 million to fix Newark’s schools. In a recent article Washington Post education writer Lyndsey Layton summarizes what happened as the “One Newark” plan was put in place by Christie and his appointed overseer Newark school superintendent, Cami Anderson. Public schools were closed and charter operators brought in. Union agreements were abrogated. It has been easy to move quickly in Newark, where the schools have been under state control for twenty years and residents have been unable to establish sufficient checks and balances despite the presence of an elected school board that lacks virtually any power. Cami Anderson has not bothered to attend any meetings of Newark’s school board for well over a year now.

Layton describes 'One Newark':

“The plan is the signature initiative crafted by Anderson, who was appointed by Gov. Chris Christie (R) in 2011 to run Newark Public Schools. The state seized control of Newark Public Schools in 1995 amid academic and financial failure, but two decades of state control has resulted in little progress. One Newark, which fully took effect in the current academic year (2014-2015), essentially blew up the old school system. It eliminated neighborhood schools in favor of a citywide lottery designed to give parents more choices. It prompted mass firings of principals and teachers, and it led to numerous school closures and a sharp rise in the city’s reliance on charter schools. . . With Christie’s blessing—and freed from the need for approval from a local school board—Anderson pushed through a raft of changes, many of which were untested. . . As a result, many families saw their children spread among multiple schools or sent across town. The scattering has been problematic for a city divided along gang lines, and where many residents don’t own cars. The end of neighborhood schools meant that newcomers no longer had a right to attend the school down the street. The new citywide lottery, relying on a computer algorithm, forced many students to change schools while dividing siblings in some cases between different schools in different parts of the city. Meanwhile, state test scores have stayed flat or even declined. . .”

Local elected officials have tried unsuccessfully to protect the right of parents and citizens of Newark to control their public schools. Senator Ronald Rice, chair of the New Jersey Legislature’s Joint Committee on Public Schools, was able only after repeated attempts to require Cami Anderson to appear before his committee to defend her plan, but she refused to discuss matters of substance with his committee. A civil rights complaint was filed earlier this year with the U.S. Department of Education. A group of high school students occupied the offices of Superintendent Cami Anderson for several days in February. U.S. Rep. Donald Payne, Jr., Newark’s representative to Congress, recently petitioned Cami Anderson in a formal letter to respond to the concerns of his constituents: “Your failure to respond and to engage in a meaningful dialogue on behalf of all Newark students is very disappointing to my constituents and me. There is a crisis situation going on in Newark.” And just this week, in an attempt to gain leverage, Newark’s new mayor, Ras Baraka, a high school principal elected on a pro-public school platform in the spring of 2014, was able to get his own “Children’s First Team” of three elected to the local elected board of education. All five of the elected board members support Baraka and oppose Cami Anderson’s One Newark plan. You can read earlier posts about Newark here.

Despite the protests, Cami Anderson, has been rewarded not only with Christie’s support but also with a bonus. She has also announced plans to expand One Newark. Bob Braun, former education writer for the Newark Star Ledger, recently blogged: “Three related events are merging into a crisis for the public schools and their supporters. The first is Anderson’s decision to designate nine more schools—including Weequahic and East Side high schools—as ‘turnaround’ schools that will force employees either to give up their jobs or their contract-guaranteed working conditions. The second is Anderson’s insistence that the state grant her permission to ignore employee seniority rights so she can lay off veteran teachers to meet a budget deficit of up to $100 million that she caused. The third is the arguably felonious refusal of the state to insist that Anderson abide by the terms of the waiver of the federal No Child Left Behind requirements.”

The Newark Teachers Union just announced a formal protest; teachers will no longer work extra hours before or after school but will picket to bring attention to the problems with One Newark. Naomi Nix of the Star Ledger interviewed a union leader who reports: “(T)he teachers will participate in ‘informational picket lines’ during non-school day hours to explain their concerns to the public.” Braun reports that Mayor Ras Baraka supports the teachers’ action. Dr. Lauren Wells, Baraka’s chief school officer met with teachers and told them: “Enough is enough. This is not how you change the schools. We support you.” Braun adds: “Five members of the Newark school board also showed up to show their support—leading to the possibility that Newark might be the scene of the first teachers’ strike supported by its local school board. The state has stripped the board of most of its powers, but the members do act as a barometer of anti-state feeling.”

Braun would agree, I think, that Newark’s schools exemplify a Shock Doctrine—the imposition of school choice, public school closures, expansion of charters, and attacks on unionized teachers—on a community whose citizens lack power. He writes: “The last year has been its own moment of truth about the respect shown to leaders of color—even prominent, elected leaders like Rice and Baraka and members of the school board. In a state run by Christie and allies like Steve Sweeney and Joseph DiVincenzo and George Norcross, the concerns of black and brown political, religious, and civic leaders simply do not matter.” Shock Doctrine educational experiments are characterized by their imposition by the powerful on other people’s children.

Chris Christie has been very clear about Newark: “And I don’t care about the community criticism. We run the school district in Newark—not them.”


NB "Before retiring recently, Jan Resseger, the author of this well documented piece (see all the links onsite) served for fifteen years as the (lay) Minister for Public Education and Witness in the United Church of Christ's Justice and Witness Ministries. With Jan's leadership the denomination worked for policy to improve, not punish, the public schools; reduce testing; and ensure attention to vast resource opportunity gaps. She is a featured writer for 'Public School Shakedown'," a project (with its own site) of The Progressive Magazine. " 'Public School Shakedown' is revving up the movement to save our public schools. On this site, we are pulling together education experts, activists, bloggers, and concerned citizens around the country." "Public School Shakedown is dedicated to EXPOSING the behind-the-scenes effort to privatize our public schools, and CONNECTING pro-public school activists nationwide."

Now I got it - Hope you GET IT, too: 'Public School Shakedown' is THE advocacy place for defending American public schools & finding out the truth about charter schools & the neo-liberal ideology behind them & the dismantling of the public school system!

Jan., 2015, Public School Shakedown - A FAQ on the Corporate Education Reform Industry
 

Lois Jordan (63)
Thursday April 30, 2015, 1:19 pm
Noted. Thank you, Lucy, for all the great info here. Charter schools are very destructive to our public schools here in AZ.
 

LucyKaleido ScopeEyes (82)
Thursday April 30, 2015, 1:28 pm
Center for Media and Democracy - 'ALEC EXPOSED' Privatizing Public Education, Higher Ed Policy, and Teachers -

The page linked to provides links to all the following & more:

=> "Increasing Profits for School Companies, Undermining Teachers, and Promoting "Conservatives" on Campus" : "This page reveals how ALEC bills would privatize public education, crush teacher's unions, and push American universities to the right. Among other things, these bills make education a private commodity rather than a public good, and reverse America’s modern innovation of promoting learning and civic virtue through public schools staffed with professional teachers for children from all backgrounds. Through ALEC, corporations have both a VOICE and a VOTE on specific state laws to change the American education system. Do you?"

=> BILLS - You can access these ALEC "model" privatizing schools and higher education here.

=> FACT SHEET - Download a one-page fact sheet on ALEC and education here.

=>TAKE ACTION! - Send a letter to ALEC companies asking them to cut ties with ALEC.

=> "How are corporations undermining K-12 public education in these bills?" - "Through ALEC, corporations, ideologues, and their politician allies voted to spend public tax dollars to subsidize private K-12 education and attack professional teachers and teachers' unions by: [Please see on site linked to/too long for a comment]
 

Janet B (0)
Thursday April 30, 2015, 2:59 pm
Thanks
 

Birgit W (160)
Thursday April 30, 2015, 3:48 pm
Thanks for sharing.
 

Lona Goudswaard (66)
Tuesday May 5, 2015, 11:36 am
Greed and a total lack of morality seem to be the norm nowadays. "Charter schools act like they have a 'get out of accountability free' card," and can do with money from the community as they see fit, even if that means transferring it to their personal bank accounts.

And apparently that's just one side of the coin: "The release of the report comes amid growing nation-wide concerns about the dramatic expansion of charter schools and mounting evidence that this trend leads to greater racial inequality and segregation in education."
So now what? Who is going to do something about it, the GOP?
 

LucyKaleido ScopeEyes (82)
Friday May 8, 2015, 11:57 am
Coverage on the same report in the manner of Democracy Now!, Friday, May 8, 2015 - As Obama Admin Seeks More Funding for Charter Schools, Questions Raised over Billions Already Spent

Guest: Lisa Graves, executive director of the Center for Media and Democracy. Their new report is called, "New Documents Show How Taxpayer Money Is Wasted by Charter Schools."

Intro: "As the Obama administration asks Congress to increase funding for charter schools by almost 50 percent, a new report claims charter schools are spending billions of dollars with nearly no oversight, regulation, or accountability. The Center for Media and Democracy argues the federal government has spent more than $3 billion over the past two decades on the charter school industry, but there is no comprehensive database showing how these funds are spent and what results they produce. The new report analyzes materials obtained from open records requests regarding independent audits of how states interact with charter schools and their authorizers. It concludes that the anti-regulatory environment around charter schools coupled with their lack of financial transparency warrants a moratorium rather than increased charter funding. We are joined by Lisa Graves, executive director of the Center for Media and Democracy. The group’s new report is "New Documents Show How Taxpayer Money Is Wasted by Charter Schools." "
 

Kirk Anderson (0)
Monday July 13, 2015, 5:29 pm
Fraud is a potential in all government funded programs simply because the facilitators aren't responsible for the money being spread around. I will say this however, there are some success stories attached to Charter School.New Orleans is one of them. Check out this video as it sheds a little light on the benefits: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zD4xzIBpumA
 
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