"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Legislatures Waking Up to Fraudulent Charter Schools

Another clear signal that Americans are waking up to the systematic and planned destruction of their public schools. HT to Media Transparency--commentary from the Star Tribune:
If there remains a "sacred cow" in public education -- an issue that can't be criticized or challenged -- it is not teacher unions, the failings of inner-city schools or the empty achievements of the No Child Left Behind Act. All those topics and more have been debated vigorously in the discussion over education.

No, the last sacred cow is the charter-school movement and the notion that charter schools will reform the schools and that no limit should be placed on their number, despite mounting evidence that they, too, are beset by problems.

That last sacred cow just got gored. And high time, too.

The Minnesota Senate's education spending package includes a long-overdue proposal to limit the number of charter schools in Minnesota to 150, a cap that could mean no more charter schools would be approved after 19 schools slated to open next fall or next year are added to the existing 131.

A cap may be gaining traction: Despite protests from charter-school supporters, an attempt to remove the cap from the education bill was defeated by voice vote in a Finance Committee subdivision Wednesday.

Logically, a cap makes sense. It wouldn't mean charter schools couldn't grow or accept more students; it would only mean that 150 charter schools are enough.

The need for a cap is clear: Charter schools, authorized by the 1991 Legislature (and limited, at first, to eight schools) have wildly outgrown their original intent, suffer from a lack of rigorous financial controls (several have gone bankrupt, others have been robbed by their managers), and have not significantly outperformed traditional public schools (according to the Minnesota Association of Charter Schools, 44 percent of the state's charter schools did not make adequate progress last year, including the school where Minneapolis City Council member and public school critic Don Samuels sends his children).

"There are too many of them that suffer from really bad management, financial improprieties or sweetheart deals" involving charter-school sponsors who contract for services to their schools, says Charles Kyte, executive director of the Minnesota Association of School Administrators. "It's time to put the brakes on, and take a hard look to figure out what's right or wrong." . . .

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