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

Monday, January 14, 2008

Charter Schools: "publicly funded private entities" that are resistant to state audit

Unreserved public spending with little oversight was once called Big Government by conservatives. Now that those same tax dollars are flowing to corporations, both for profit and for nonprofit tax credits, bad Big Government has become good Big Corporate Welfare, and it comes highly recommended by the same conservatives who now see state audits and accountability as intrusions on private innovation and initiative. Government meddling, you know.

With larger and larger chunks of American capital going international, the remaining domestic capitalists have to make a living somehow--and the half-trillion that Americans spend on education each year is a prime target for the education-industrial complex that will figure significantly in the Bush legacy that Rudy (911) will carry forward in the unlikely event he becomes president.

From the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle:
(January 12, 2008) — ALBANY — The New York Charter Schools Association and more than a dozen of its members will make their case Friday against having state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli's office audit their institutions.

The association, the New York City Center for Charter School Excellence, and 13 New York City-based charter schools contend that the comptroller does not have the statutory authority to conduct "performance" audits, that is, anything that falls outside of a financial-statement audit.

That can include examining whether they are meeting the goals set forth in their charters, their efficiency and practices they use to safeguard the institution.

"These performance audits are duplicative of the extensive academic review of charter schools already undertaken by the New York State Department of Education, the New York City Education Department and the charter schools' 'charter entities,'" said John Henry, an Albany attorney representing the plaintiffs.

Another argument the groups and schools are advancing is that DiNapoli doesn't have constitutional power to do any auditing of charter schools, which are publicly funded private entities.

Last summer, the Comptroller's Office sent letters to charter schools authorized by New York City's Department of Education about its intent to conduct "performance" audits.

The move was prompted by an audit of the city Board of Education that determined annual reports that charter schools had filed lacked "critical, required performance information." The Comptroller's Office found that the department did not have a formal process to review information or develop corrective action. . . .

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