February 20, 2022

Shawgi Tell: Elusive Transparency in Charter Schools

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Transparency for schools has been all the rage lately, yet it remains an unrealized hope for charter schools, which continue to operate without transparency. 

Nearly 31 years after they first appeared in the U.S., privately-operated charter schools remain immune to pro-social reform and are plagued by endless problems. Ceaseless reports from the mainstream press and the alternative press on the lack of charter school transparency and accountability have not translated into meaningful and lasting reforms. Governments at all levels have failed to defend the public interest and reign in charter schools. More charter schools equal less money, fewer facilities, and diminished authority for the public schools that educate 90% of the nation’s youth. Far from solving any problems, school privatization has created new problems and exacerbated existing ones.

Chalkbeat recently reported that Some Newark charter schools fail to fully comply with transparency rules. In reality more than just “Some Newark charter schools fail to fully comply with transparency rules.” Every state with charter schools has many charter schools, not just “some,” that abdicate basic responsibilities. And if past experience is any indication, accountability and transparency will remain elusive in the charter school sector for years to come.

One of the main ways charter schools in New Jersey and elsewhere evade openness and honesty is by not informing parents or the community about certain meetings and events even though open-meeting laws require such public announcements in a timely fashion. This is one of the many ways privately-operated charter schools differ from public schools even though they are called public schools. Privately-operated charter schools are frequently not open or forthright about their activities and leave the public out of the equation. Many charter schools in Newark and elsewhere do not even post updated and recent meeting minutes on their website.

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