May 31, 2023

Ziad Munson: Why Do We Tolerate This?

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Cyber charter schools are siphoning millions of dollars from our schools, and still failing.

Ziad Munson, blogging in Pennsylvania, points out the financial damage done by the state’s exceptionally bad cyber charter laws. He offers a specific example from one district.

Local East Penn taxpayers paid $7.2 million to charter schools during the last school year. Just to put that in perspective, the district could hire more than a dozen new teachers, pay for all the proposed district priorities, AND deliver a tax CUT for the community for less than $7.2 million. In our schools– just like in our homes– if you spend money on one thing, you can’t spend that money on other things that might be important.

The situation with charter schools in Pennsylvania is much worse than most people realize. Our representatives in Harrisburg have refused to update the law in more than a quarter century, which has resulted in what is widely regarded by charter school advocates and skeptics alike as one of the worst charter school laws in the country.

Let me give just one example: If a student in East Penn attends a charter school, $12,816.33 in local taxes are paid to that school per year. Now if that student turns out to need speech and language therapy– that might cost $5,000– local taxpayers will have to pay that same charter school $29,591.53 instead. So the charter school pockets an extra $16,775.20 of East Penn taxpayer dollars to provide a service that costs them only $5,000. And this is completely legal.

So what do charter schools do with this extra money? A lot goes to executive salaries and corporate profits. Many of these schools rely on, or are even run, by for-profit companies– particularly the cyber charters. They thus spend millions of dollars annually on advertising campaigns too, so those profits keep coming in. According to testimony given last month to a PA legislative committee on charter school reform, they also spend it on things like $250 cash reimbursements for “leisure activities” of families who enroll, parties at restaurants and arcades throughout the state, and tickets to Penguins and Phillies games.

What do Pennsylvania taxpayers get for their money? Not much. Read the full post here

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