June 17, 2021

Shawgi Tell: Public Money Used to Increase Segregated Charter Schools

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In this recent post, Dr. Shawgi Tell takes a look at a recent piece of research from the Network for Public Education, revealing the ways that charters exacerbate segregation–using public tax dollars.

The latest report on federally-funded segregation in the charter school sector comes from the award-winning veteran educator Carol Burris of the Network for Public Education (NPE). Carol has produced several well-researched reports in the past couple of years on extensive fraud, waste, and abuse in the crisis-prone charter school sector. She has focused mainly on the federal Charter Schools Program (CSP) which annually funnels hundreds of millions of public dollars to charter schools operated by unelected individuals. The program is authorized by the Every Student Succeeds Act.

Despite many attempts, the federal government has largely ignored multiple public demands to end this state-organized corruption to pay the rich. This is despite the fact that president Joe Biden promised to ban for-profit charter schools and support efforts to bring more accountability to charters. Instead, the Biden administration has stuck to spending $440 million on the Charter Schools Program this year, which is a default win for privately-operated charter schools. Since 1994 the federal government has funneled about $4 billion in public funds to these segregated contract schools through the Charter School Program. Through her previous work, Carol showed that millions of dollars were sent to many charter schools that either never opened or operated only for a few years and then closed, leaving many families high and dry.

In her latest investigation, Carol shows how public money from the federal Charter Schools Program is being used in North Carolina to strengthen segregation through the mechanism of charter schools. These are alternatively known as “white-flight academies.” Among other things, Carol notes that the justification for the use of many grant monies from the federal Charter Schools Program is often weak and makes no sense. Many disturbing details and cases can be found here. For example, 11 charter schools in North Carolina that received CSP funds “have significant overrepresentation of White students or a significant underrepresentation of Black students compared with the population of the public school district in which they are located.” So much for the worn-out assertion by charter school advocates that charter schools are about the civil rights of minority students.

Read the full piece here.

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