I made a Facebook post that seemed like it would be reasonable to turn into a blog post, so here we go. Chalkbeat has an article about Elizabeth Warren’s meeting with charter school activists. Per the article:
Warren’s education plan, which she released last month, proposes limiting charter schools in a number of ways. It promises to ban for-profit charter schools and eliminate federal funding for new charters. Warren’s plan also seeks to limit who could authorize charters — the kind of change that could threaten existing schools, though one that it’s unclear whether a president could pull off.
This prompted push back from charter activists. Warren promised to go back and look at her plan to make sure that charter schools are on an even playing field with traditional public schools. Charter schools like to claim that they are on an even playing field — maybe it’s even tougher for them. Traditional public school advocates strongly disagree. My thoughts in that Facebook post I mentioned:
1) The profit/non-profit distinction for charters favored by some candidates (not sure about Warren) doesn’t mean a lot unless we have some clarity on whether the management companies hired by the charters are themselves for-profit or not; and
2) There seems to be some evidence that charters can produce positive outcomes under the sorts of tight regulation Massachusetts has. Indiana is absolutely not going to impose that kind of close regulation and I’m guessing the charter advocates aren’t going to be supportive of that sort of regulation going nationwide.
“It appears that Massachusetts’ charter laws are responsible, at least in large part, for the superior performance of the state’s charter schools. Indeed, Massachusetts prohibits for-profit Education Management Organizations (EMOs), and its process for authorizing charter schools is particularly rigorous. According to Alison Bagg, director of charter schools and school redesign at the Massachusetts Department of Education, Massachusetts is one of the few states in which the Department of Education serves as the sole authorizer of charter schools. “You have some states that have hundreds and hundreds of charters schools, all authorized by these districts or non-profits,” Bagg explained to the HPR. In Massachusetts, by contrast, “it has been historically very difficult to get a charter,” and the state has been recognized by the National Association of Charter School Authorizers as “one of the leaders in charter school authorizing nationwide.”
The charter renewal process is also quite rigorous, according to Bagg. The state monitors charter schools closely and has the ability to close charter schools that have achieved poor results—a practice that is not universal across states.”
In Indiana, by contrast, we get a school corporation like Daleville sponsoring the Indiana Virtual School charter which then takes state money for kids who are dead or have long since moved out of state.
Five years after two students moved to Florida, they reappeared on enrollment records for Indiana Virtual School and its sister school.
And nearly every one of the more than 900 students kicked out of Indiana Virtual School and its sister school in the 2017-18 school year for being inactive were re-enrolled the next school year, included in per-pupil funding calculations that netted the two online schools more than $34 million in public dollars last year.
These were among the ways that Indiana Virtual School and Indiana Virtual Pathways Academy allegedly inflated their enrollment to at least twice its actual size, according to the findings of a state examiner’s investigation[.]
Under Indiana’s charter system, Daleville was allowed to receive 3% of the state tuition dollars directed to the charter schools it authorized. In the case of IVS and IVPA, that amounted to $1 million. It’s not clear that a whole lot of oversight was being done.