Federal Funding a Gravy Train for Charter Schools


TREE has a rare ask. We are typically very focused on state-level issues around education reform; but, today we are asking you to look at legislation being pushed at the federal level. The federal government is pushing through The Success and Opportunity through Quality Charter Schools Act (H.R. 10) which will promote charter school proliferation by providing federal grant dollars, on top of current state and local tax dollars, to charter schools.  The grant money can be used for administrative costs and to garner private investments for charter schools.

Our public schools are charged with educating ALL students regardless of disability, economic status, or language proficiency. Charter schools typically serve a lower percentage of English Language Learners and those with disabilities than traditional schools. Instead of holding the charters accountable for this discrepancy, some in the federal government now want to give charter schools extra cash! The bill also requires the grant-receiving state to establish a “charter school facilities funding” program, which will have to be funded with state tax dollars after the grant money is gone. This bill, a tax-dollar funding stream for charter schools, lacks any requirements for accountability or oversight since all amendments asking for transparency and fraud abuse regulation were shot down.

This legislation, that has already passed in the US House, will also allow a parallel private-school system funded with public dollars to be built across the country. Many lawmakers seemingly have no interest in helping us improve our current public school system. H.R. 10 gives the “charter school industry” more financial help by allowing them to pad their locally funded BEP money with federal dollars, while also providing them increased access to private funding. Rather than serving our children’s needs, these lawmakers are giving up on funding the current system in favor of pouring federal dollars into a private corporate-led, taxpayer-funded education system.  These funding choices will manipulate the current system into funding chaos–like a hostile take over–that forces public school failure due to lack of resources.

With little federal regulation and no elected body to oversee them, charter schools have moved from experimental schools trying to overcome public education challenges to tax shelters for the rich and powerful. This bill exempts charters from accountability with our tax dollars, thereby cloaking the investors of the funding system. The real cost of educating a child in the public system will never be known without transparency.

We are very concerned because some supporters of this bill, like education analyst Don Soifer, feel that Title I–a federal program that provides extra money to schools with a majority of students receiving free & reduced lunch–is not working and should be removed. Soifer stated that, “other programs could use some more controversy…The effectiveness of Title I overall is widely pointed to as an expensive program with an important goal that has not produced the sorts of academic results and outcomes it was created for.” Statements like this make us wonder if the life line for our neediest students and schools–Title 1–is next in line to be cut. Like punishment though starvation, money that could help our public system is being siphoned off, leaving our neediest children to suffer with inadequate services. H.R. 10 will proudly write the checks to charters without question, even in the face of face of rampant charter school fraud.

This bill  has passed the US House and is headed for the Senate–and we need your help to stop it. Please write your US Senator in Washington as soon as possible. 

Find your U.S. Senator

and let them know your opinion. If you need a starting point, copy and paste the text below into your email.  By participating in the legislative process you can make sure our current public education system is not left behind. Thank you.

Dear Senator ___,  
Please vote no on the Success and Opportunity through Quality Charter Schools Act (HR 10). Instead of giving our tax dollars to private entities who are unaccountable to the public, please support legislation that will increase charter school oversight. Please support our children’s traditional zoned schools, rather than defunding them to the point of extinction. We need reform that strengthens our overall system of public education–not reform that destroys the system in exchange for tax shelters and corporate spending abuse. Please vote no on HR 10. 

Please include your State, zip code and if your are a parent, teacher and or public school supporter.

Learn more.
http://www.nea.org/home/19449.htm (This spells out amendments that were tried and failed.)



Image provided by Archie McPhee. Buy it here.