Is the Charter Movement Imploding? (by Diane Ravitch)

Using Connecticut as an example and featuring a recent Hartford Courant column written by Colin McEnroe, Diane Ravitch, the nation’s leading public education advocate, has entitled her latest blog Is the Charter Movement Imploding?

Ravitch writes,

In state after state, charter schools are proving that it is downright risky to turn public money over to deregulated corporations and unqualified individuals to run schools. The Detroit Free Press series on the scams, frauds, and corruption in many Michigan charters was an eye-opener for all those who are not part of the charter movement. The exposé of similar frauds in Florida by the League of Women Voters in Florida was enlightening to anyone other than free market ideologues. The same level of corruption–actually, even worse–exists in Ohio’s charter sector, where a small number of charter founders have become multi-millionaires, run low-performing schools, and are never held accountable.

One of the most colorful charter scandals occurred when a Cleveland charter operator was tried for funneling over $1million to his church and other businesses. The charter founder was a pastor, not an educator. His attorney said ““his client had good intentions when opening the school on East 55th Street but then got greedy when he saw easy opportunities to make money….”

The leader of California’s most celebrated charter school, with outstanding test scores, stepped down when an audit revealed that nearly $4 million had been diverted to his other businesses.

In Arizona, the Arizona Republic exposed charters that were family businesses, giving contracts to family members and board members.

In Chicago, the head of the city’s largest charter chain resigned after the media reported large contracts given to family members of school leaders and other conflicts of interest and misuse of public funds.

Last week, one of Connecticut’s most celebrated charter organizations was at the center of the latest scandal. Its CEO was revealed to have a criminal past and a falsified résumé. Two top executives immediately resigned, and legislators and journalists began to ask questions. No background checks? Accountability? Transparency?

Colin McEnroe wrote in the Hartford Courant’s blog that hustlers were cashing in on the charter school craze. Not just in Connecticut, but in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, California, Ohio, Arizona, on and on.

McEnroe wrote:

“The message is always the same: The essential concept behind the charter school movement is that, freed from the three Rs — restraints, rules and regulations — these schools could innovate and get the kinds of results that calcified, logy public schools could only dream about. And they do … sometimes.

“But handing out uncountable millions to operators who would be given a free hand was also like putting a big sign out by the highway that says “Welcome Charlatans, Grifters, Credential-Fakers, Cherry-Pickers, Stat-Jukers, Cult of Personality Freaks and People Who Have No Business Running a Dairy Queen, Much Less a School.” And they’ve all showed up. This is the Promised Land: lots of cash and a mission statement that implicitly rejects the notion of oversight…..

“What else goes with those big bubbling pots of money? A new layer of lobbyists and donation-bundlers. The Free Press documented the way a lawmaker who dared to make a peep of protest against charter schools getting whatever they want suddenly found himself in a race against a challenger heavily funded by the Great Lakes Education Project, the “powerhouse lobby” of the Michigan charter movement. Jon Lender of The Courant recently showed how one family of charter school advocates had crammed $90,000 into Connecticut Democratic Party coffers.”

If there were more investigations, more charter scandals would be disclosed.

When will public officials call a halt to the scams, conflicts of interest, self-dealing, nepotism, and corruption?

There is one defensible role for charter schools and that is to do what public schools can’t do. There is no reason to create a dual school system, with one free to choose its students and to cherry pick the best students, while the other must take all students. There is no reason to give charters to non-educators. There is no reason to allow charter operators to pocket taxpayer dollars for their own enrichment while refusing to be fully accountable for how public money is spent. Where public money goes, public accountability must follow.

You can read Colin McEnroe complete commentary piece at: http://touch.courant.com/#section/-1/article/p2p-80715880/

Diane Ravtich’s blog is at: http://dianeravitch.net/2014/07/05/is-the-charter-movement-imploding/

  • buygoldandprosper

    And speaking of fraud:

    “Last month, when responding to a question from Diane Sawyer about her speaking fees, Clinton said that she and Bill Clinton were “dead broke” after his presidency ended in 2000. She has backtracked from the “dead broke” comment, saying that it was “inartful.”
    Expect Dan Malloy to that to his vocabulary.
    Drill down
    Distraction
    Inartful
    The good news is that the public speaking money went to a “foundation”…THE CLINTON FOUNDATION!

    • buygoldandprosper

      And “LET ME BE PERFECTLY CLEAR…” that is Dan at his finest.
      It is usually a prelude to more obfuscation.
      Let’s be clear about this…all you have to do is show up for four years.

      • sharewhut

        “LET ME BE PERFECTLY CLEAR…”
        He doesn’t mean in regards to anything involving words; clarifying statements, explaining positions, openness of methods, succinct policy formation….
        He means “Let me be perfectly clear” as in physically invisible; not seen as being involved in any way with anything untoward. Way beyond the “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain”- the curtain is pulled back and the levers look to be moving themselves….
        Not realizing people are already starting to see right through him…

        • Mary Gallucci

          Great one! I love this reading of “perfectly clear”–gold star!

    • buygoldandprosper

      Speaking of the CLINTON FOUNDATION, Bruce is paid almost $400K as Chairman…that’s just one and a half speeches! Who will Dan appoint to HIS foundation one day? RoyThe Maggot?

      “Bruce R. Lindsey currently serves as Chairman of the Board for the Clinton Foundation and splits his time between the Foundation’s New York and Little Rock offices. He has been a long-time advisor to former President Bill Clinton. During the eight years of the Clinton Administration, he served as an Assistant to the President, Deputy White House Counsel, and Senior Advisor. During 1993, Mr. Lindsey was also Director of the Office of Presidential Personnel where he supervised the selection and approval of political appointees in the Cabinet departments and to Presidential boards and commissions. In the White House Counsel’s Office, Mr. Lindsey handled judicial selection issues, clemency requests, and investigative matters. During the 1992 Presidential campaign, he served as the National Campaign Director. In his various positions, Mr. Lindsey has been described as the Administrations “master strategist” on a variety of high profile issues, including tobacco settlement negotiations, product liability reform, security law reform, international aviation issues and labor law issues.:

      • JMC

        One can learn all one needs to know about Bill and Hillary by revisiting their attempt to destroy innocent White House press travel agent Billy Dale through appalling misuse of the IRS and FBI.

    • Philip Stull

      Of course that did not include Bill’s retirement $$$ and Hillary’s $14,000,000 advance on her book deal but to some that must feel like being dead broke.

    • JMC

      That must be why upon their departure they stole many of the very expensive donations of furniture and gifts that were technically and legally the property of the US Government.

  • Linda174

    Yes we have reached the charter bubble. It was inevitable.

  • Linda174

    Jon Lender: How Malloy’s Aides Edited, Shaped Their Messages On Charter Schools Debacle

    http://touch.courant.com/#section/2224/article/p2p-80726429

  • Linda174

    Calling all readers. Caption contest….What’s Dan about to say:

    • Mary Gallucci

      Connecticut Schools for Sale?

      • Mary Gallucci

        We need a picture of Richard Blumenthal, too, saying, “no, I won’t sign your petition.”
        I think he meant to say, “We need more millionaires in politics–I can’t believe I’m the richest man in the US senate.”

        • JMC

          And I think it isn’t even his money! Blumenthal’s bio on WIkipedia is, BTW, the most self-serving one I’ve ever seen.

      • Linda174

        “Hold on Hold on…DOBA…get over here now..they ain’t buying it.”

      • Maria Pereira

        What do you mean I lost to Jonathan Pelto?

    • Mary Gallucci

      Do I hear a higher bid?

    • guest

      Hold on — is everyone strapped up?

  • Mary Gallucci

    Well, the Courant is slowly starting to “get it”: http://touch.courant.com/#section/2224/article/p2p-80726429/
    They can’t say we haven’t been sounding the alarm. They also can’t say they haven’t been publishing Steven Adamowski’s, Paul Vallas’s, and Stefan Pryor’s press releases as articles for the last few years. Oh, and Steve Perry’s… hmmm, kinda quiet on that front… It can’t be that the Courant is finally investigating?
    I wonder if the Courant will publish a story about how the charter advocacy group they give so much air-time to (as damage control from the Michael Sharpe fallout) was actually co-founded by Michael Sharpe and had him on their board of directors until, uhm, 5 minutes ago? How does that group become some viable source for Kathleen Megan? Hello? oh, maybe Pryor and Doba and Goldfarb and Donnelly put the Courant onto the “Northeast Charter School Network”: http://www.courant.com/news/connecticut/hc-charters-recommendation-0704-20140703,0,2599482.story
    You read it first here: Michael Sharpe co-founded this group and used it to agitate for more charters than ever in CT… and now they are pretending to be some neutral party; anything to salvage the charters.
    There’s a bunch more stuff we citizen journalists have discovered (actually, if the State Board of Ed were doing its job, they would have discovered this stuff)… so, stay tuned!

  • buygoldandprosper

    Imploding? Nah! Doba, Malloy’s lapdog has it under control.

    We pay these idiots to spend time lying to us? Amazing!

    “How Malloy’s Aides Edited, Shaped Their Messages On Charter Schools Debacle ”
    http://www.courant.com/news/politics/hc-lender-crisis-communications-0706-20140705,0,6730548,full.column

    • Linda174

      Here’s Doba….remember Squealer from Animal Farm.

      “Tactics, comrades, tactics”

    • buygoldandprosper

      Time to pick up the Global Strategies Hotline and wake up Roy the Maggot. What are we paying him for anyway?!

  • Jim Spellman

    The Charter School scam flourishes – New London is the new poster child . Nothing will change until all incumbents are voted out of office . Most were complicit by action , the others were accessories by acquiescence .

    • Mary Gallucci

      Uh, oh, what has Adamowski done in New London? do you have a charter school now? TFA?

      • anniemil

        He made New London an all magnet school district. His parting gift? Wasn’t he supposed to retire June 30th and collect CT Teachers’ retirement? Read more here: http://events.theday.com/article/20140615/NWS01/306159940/1070

        New London just hired a new supt right out of Duncan land, Chicago. Poor New London!

        • Linda174

          Connections to Duncan, Rahm and Chicago? Substitute taught for one year? Here we go again. Paul Vallas light.

        • JMC

          Quite a narrative. On “sabbatical” from a high-powered executive job, yadda, undertakes substitute teaching, “loves” the kids, yadda, so much so that he breaks contact with them to become a person who has to start at the top and tell other people how to teach, yadda. Something ain’t kosher here.

        • Linda174

          More about Duncan’s pick for New London:

          http://www.shreveporttimes.com/assets/pdf/D9212662101.PDF

        • Mary Gallucci

          Well, I don’t know how Fischer was as a super in New London, but he had a very bumpy career elsewhere and was a staunch Adamowski supporter (probably brought him to NL). The newest super may indeed be a trojan horse–but why is the board so hopeless in finding supers? has the board truly checked this guy’s background out? called his referees? It looks like he was never even a school-level administrator.

        • anniemil

          Check out Linda174’s link to the Shreveport Times. It’s his CV. Seems like he attended a Broad-esque type academy and subsequently was a principal for 5 years in Chicago. Of course w/ stellar results. Somewhere along the line he was hand-picked by Arne. That’s enough to disqualify him right there.