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Another Charter Management Company nightmare – edu|FOCUS
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Another Charter Management Company nightmare

The link below points to an investigation by @WFLA 8 in Florida around Newpoint Education Partners, who is accused of creating bogus loans using taxpayer dollars. The issues in Florida are an indicator of a larger issue in our country where the average charter management company puts profits first, ahead of students or even taxpayers. The issues around a lack of general accountability, transparency, and efficiency are hallmarks of charter school management organizations, which are for-profit entities determined to turn public education in a system of haves and have-nots. @WFLA’s investigation actually resulted in several school districts distancing themselves from Newpoint but only after losses to the community’s public schools.

Read the investigation and see the video by WFLA’s Mark Douglas by clicking here.

When you check out the article, the one thing I think will stand out to you, that stood out to me, was the fact that the San Jose school board paid Newpoint a staggering $500,000 per year the last 3 years as an “annual fee. An annual fee…for doing what I wonder? Why wouldn’t the school board question this fee, which was roughly 18% of the annual total cost. Wouldn’t that money be better invested in schools? When we have school boards that tell us they’re cash strapped it makes you wonder – how cash strapped can you really be when you go from paying no fee, to paying a half-million dollars for the privilege to pay someone to handle issues for you. Not necessarily handle those issues well either, just to handle them.

What we continue to see is a fast-food mentality to public education from local and state leaders. The idea that things can be made easier by just getting someone else to do the ground work seems to be the aim of education boards throughout the country lately. I find it odd that they hire a charter management company to manage charter schools that are supposed to be the fix to all our education issues. You wouldn’t hire a roof repair management company to manage the roof repair specialists you hired to actually fix the roof, would you? It’s unnecessary overhead. School funding and fiscal management should be handled like a business, in my opinion. But the business of managing schools should never be outsourced. And the idea of what makes a school “profitable” should be the outcomes of the students within. Graduation rates should be a factor. Post graduation success rates should be measured to check the effectiveness of the curriculum. Student engagement should be a factor. Parent satisfaction should be a factor. Community involvement and integration should be a factor. These should be the measures for which we hold school administrators accountable. Not standardized tests or educator performance based on test scores.

Seeing things improve would mean a realization by state and local entities that charters are like putting an expensive band-aid, that costs as much as a bar of gold, on someone to fix a headache. Not only are we overspending to “fix” the issue, but we’re applying the wrong fixes to the wrong issues entirely. Wasting billions in taxpayer dollars to do it, all so a few folks can profit off of the education reform “market”. Our investment in our children isn’t a dollars and cents investment at all; and the sooner government officials and school boards come to that realization, the sooner we’ll see schools improve for the sake of our future generations.

When will state and local government officials realize that charter schools are far from the answer to today’s public school issues? Hard to say, but I for one, hope it happens soon. The dollars wasted are really starting to add up. And take notice, accountability still isn’t happening at the government level proactively but reactively. Had @WFLA not done their investigation into Newpoint, who knows how much longer this charade would’ve continued. As a taxpayer and a parent, this is what keeps me up at a night.

Endre Walls
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