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Thu Oct 2, 2014, 11:37 AM

Charter schools, civil rights and the theft of education funds

By Noliwe Rooks, contributor

As one means of fixing what is broken in our nation's public school system, the Obama administration, as well as a majority of both Democrats and Republicans in Congress, supports the rapid expansion of publically financed charter schools. However, given the startlingly large sums of money some in the charter school sector are stealing from taxpayers, and the disproportionate impact the expansion of such practices has on the civil rights of black, Latino and poor schoolchildren, it may be time for the judicial branch of government to question the unchecked expansion of this largely unregulated sector of the educational system. It seems clear that neither Congress, nor the White House, currently has the political will to do so.

For example, this past May, two nonprofit groups issued a research report titled "Charter School Vulnerabilities to Waste, Fraud And Abuse." Jointly authored by Integrity in Education and the Center for Popular Democracy, the report warned that the lax system of federal oversight of the rapidly expanding charter industry has led to the theft of more than $100 million due to fraud, mismanagement and outright theft. A few months after that study was released, a subsequent wave of news reports described federal raids and arrests at the offices of charter schools and charter management organizations in Connecticut, New Mexico, Indiana, Ohio, Louisiana and Illinois. These actions were taken following investigations into activities such as theft of money and equipment, bribery, kickback and stock manipulation schemes, and the misappropriation of funds by charter school administrators who used taxpayer dollars to purchase real estate for their personal use, take luxury vacations and treat friends and associates to fancy meals. Though necessary, these complicated investigations into charter school finances are not inexpensive and, in addition to the stolen funds, constitute an added cost to taxpayers.
However, despite such abuses, both the legislative and executive branches of the federal government, as well as both major political parties, continue to support the largely unregulated expansion of charter schools. Just this past April, Congress voted 360 to 45 to pass the Success and Opportunity through Quality Charter Schools Act (H.R. 10), which, as stated in the bill, will "strengthen the Charter School Program and allow successful charter school models to be replicated nationwide to support choice, innovation, and excellence in education." Clearly, given the widespread potential for and reality of financial abuse of taxpayer funds, we need a bill strengthening regulation and oversight of this industry before we provide more opportunities for growth.

If fraud and theft are not sufficient reason for the judiciary to become involved, perhaps the possibility of civil rights abuses will pique their interest. According to the Department of Education, this year our public schools reached a tipping point and white children are now a minority population with black, Latino and Asian students making up the majority of students who attend our nation's public schools. As a result, the federally supported policy of aggressive charter school expansion now disproportionately impacts the educational futures of black, Latino and poor students much more often than it impacts students who are white. Those futures will not fully flourish if the funds to pay for their education are not safeguarded.

more

http://thehill.com/blogs/pundits-blog/education/219506-charter-schools-civil-rights-and-the-theft-of-education-funds

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Reply Charter schools, civil rights and the theft of education funds (Original post)
n2doc Oct 2014 OP
daleanime Oct 2014 #1
greatlaurel Oct 2014 #2

Response to n2doc (Original post)

Thu Oct 2, 2014, 11:50 AM

1. K&R....

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Response to n2doc (Original post)

Thu Oct 2, 2014, 10:53 PM

2. Good post.

Thanks for the link to the article.

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