Elites Profit From “Nonprofit” Charter Schools: An Interview with Carol Burris
Interview by Meagan Day
The school privatization movement has branded itself a massive experiment in innovative approaches to education. In reality, it’s primarily been an experiment in how to funnel money from the public sector into the private sector using nonprofit organizations as intermediaries.
And yet many people, even impassioned public-education activists, struggle to understand the mechanisms by which charter schools turn a profit. Here’s a clue: the charter-school lobby is currently up in arms about a bill that blocks federal funds to any charter school that “contracts with a for-profit entity to operate, oversee or manage the activities of the school.” They claim it forces them to choose between public money and private management — and they don’t want to choose.
The House Appropriations Committee was inspired to include that provision after reading a report published by the Network for Public Education (NPE) called Chartered For Profit detailing how charter schools are operated for financial gain. Jacobin’s Meagan Day spoke with Carol Burris, NPE’s executive director, about who makes money from charter schools and how it’s done.