April 25, 2022

Gloria Nolan: Don’t trust a charter school network whose objective boils down to profits

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Gloria Nolan spent time working inside the charter school industry. Now she’s explaining why the Biden administration’s new rules for charter grants are a good idea.

For about three years I worked for an organization that was invested in growing the charter school movement locally and around the country. Thankfully, I moved on, and now I fully support charter school reform, such as the reforms included in the new regulations for the federal charter school program proposed by Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona. Here is why.

I fully began to realize what I was a part of during lunch when I had a chance to talk to the chief executive of The Opportunity Trust, Eric Scroggins. I rattled off a list of ideas I had for turning the public schools in the St. Louis district around.

That wouldn’t work, he responded. He said the objective was to burn the system down.

For Opportunity Trust and so-called reform movements like it, the key to school improvement is to replace public schools with charter schools, or public schools that act like charter schools. That is when I lost all faith in what charter proponents were selling.

And where do these charter schools go to get start-up and expansion funds? The federal Charter School Program.

Since the program began, hundreds of millions of dollars have been wasted on schools that never opened, and schools that opened and then closed. Millions have gone into the pockets of grifters and fraudsters looking to profit from that free government money. It is time for change and reform.

The same special interest groups that promote organizations like The Opportunity Trust are fighting the very reasonable rules that Cardona has proposed to help clean up the mess. With a campaign of misinformation, the charter lobby led by the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools promotes the extreme right’s support for stopping the proposed regulations.
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