Elsewhere, the conversation revolves more around questions of profit and corruption.
The Progressive yesterday reported a litany of corruption allegations against charters elsewhere in the country, like Michael Sharpe, "the disgraced CEO of the FUSE charter school in Hartford [who] admitted in court to faking his academic credentials and hiding the fact that he was a two-time felon who had been convicted of embezzlement and served five years in prison as a result," or Scott Glasrud, "the CEO of Southwest Learning Centers in Albuquerque, a group of four schools including an elementary school and a flight academy, was earning $210,000 a year, as well as additional compensation for a contract he made with his own aviation company to lease planes to the flight school he administered."
"But these are small-time operators compared with Ronald Packard, the CEO of K12, Inc., the scandal-plagued online charter school company," the Progressive wrote. "Packard's salary was $4.1 million in 2013. K12 has been charged with attempting to falsify records, using unqualified teachers, and booking classes of more than 100 students by state investigators in Florida."
Meanwhile, In These Times reported yesterday that a PAC associated by a local chamber of commerce and flush with cash has fueled a take-over by for-profit charter cheerleaders of the local school board in Dallas, and now is pushing to give those leaders a free hand:
For-profit charters have been expanding in Dallas over the past 15 years, especially in the wake of the closure of 11 public schools in early 2012. And the Chamber boasts a number of charter-school operators among its members, including longtime affiliates Uplift Education and Texans CAN Academies, two of the city’s largest charter chains. ... In Texas, open-enrollment charter schools can only be approved by the state, not the district or the school board. However, a new initiative to change district governance could open the door for Dallas to greenlight charter schools without going through the state. On February 28, a 501(c)4 group called Support Our Public Schools, backed by Dallas’ business community, announced its intention to push the district to adopt a "Home Rule Charter," a ballot-initiative proposal that would move the question of charter school conversion out of the hands of parents and into a district-wide election.
New York City's charters and charter applicants have certainly raised eyebrows now and then. The lucrative pay deals of some charter-school leaders may run counter to popular notions of what "nonprofit" means, CityLimits.org has written about a school where directors' family members got hired, and about a proposed charter with links to a for-profit company (after our story, that application was withdrawn).
And The Progressive also alludes to the FBI examination of a chain of charter schools linked to a Turkish cleric. We wrote earlier this year about a bid by that chain to open a school in the Bronx, but that charter application was later withdrawn.
But New York has avoided the outright milking (whether legal or, in the Hartford and Albuquerque cases, allegedly illegal) of public schools for private profits seen in other states—something to be grateful for and perhaps vigilant about as the number of charter schools grows in the city.