May 13, 2023

Sue Kingery Woltanski: Stories About How Charters Profit and Suspect Statistics from a Charter School Lobbyist

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A lot of baloney is served up in the Florida legislature, but Sue Kingery Woltanski is here to correct it, including the baloney served up by Charter Schools USA lobbyist Chris Moya.

At one point, Moya reminded the committee that Florida’s “charter school population is 70% minority and 50% plus Free and reduced lunch.” Moya told the committee that he was born to Cuban refugees and think it’s “really important to think about the kids in the system and people dont know these stats.” He went on to say that since charter schools didn’t receive capital outlay at parity, “it just fundamentally offends me that my people, cuban people, mostly in urban areas, those parents surrender a portion of their kids funding simply for choosing a school that better suits their kid.”

When asked, by Senator Powell, whether those minority and free and reduced lunch students in charter schools had better graduation rates than those on the traditional school path, Moya didn’t have the data but claimed that the Florida Department of Education releases an annual report demonstrating charter schools tend to outperform the districts schools, in many categories including graduation rates.

Lets look closer at those claims (data from the Florida Department of Education):

In Florida, charter schools serve lower percentages of low income children than their district managed counterparts. In 2022-23, 53% of Florida’s district managed public school population was economically disadvantaged, compared to 47% in Florida’s charter schools.

The racial breakdown of Florida’s traditional and charter schools are nearly identical with the exception that charters serve a higher percentage of Hispanic students.

When it comes to graduation rates, Florida’s district managed public schools SIGNIFICANTLY outperform charter schools.

The differences are even more striking when you compare the schools in Mr. Moya’s Charter Schools USA to district schools within the same neighborhood.

There’s plenty more. Like the question of money-making.

Senator Polsky asked a simple and straightforward question: If charters only get the money from per student allocation, “Can you explain how some charter schools actually make a profit?”

Moya chuckled (he did) and replied “Very, very small margins.” He reminded the committee that, by law (f.s.1002.33), “every single charter school is a not-for-profit.” He notes that, like public school districts, they can, and do, contract out to for-profit entities for things like construction, employee leasing or technology.

Senator Polsky reminded Moya that large charter corporation wouldn’t be in the business if they weren’t making money and asked him to explain how they make their money. Moya responded:

“I’ll let the cat out of the bag, we don’t have collective bargaining… I said the quiet part out loud, we don’t have unions.”

Having non-unionized staff and being thrifty is actually NOT how corporate charter chains make their vast profits – lucrative management fees, self dealing and rent extraction are the key to profits in the charter sector.

There’s so much more, complete with sources. Read the full post here. 

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