In California’s charter world, a tangled web of for-profit companies and nonprofit schools
Charter schools are in the education news these days in a bigger way than usual.
The national board of the NAACP, which has long expressed concern about charter schools, is scheduled this weekend to vote on whether to approve a resolution — passed at the group’s convention this past summer — that calls for a moratorium on their expansion. The organization has been subject to intense lobbying by charter supporters to either withdraw the resolution or defeat it, evidence of a split in the civil rights community over charters.
The charter school sector has grown over the past few decades amid a debate about its virtues and drawbacks — and even whether the publicly funded schools are actually public. Some charters do a great job, but even some advocates (though not all) are finally admitting that too many states allowed charters to open and operate without sufficient oversight.
Ohio and Utah have vied for the distinction of having the most troubled charter sector, along with Arizona, where there are no laws against conflicts of interest and for-profit charters do not have to open their books to the public. There’s also Michigan, where 80 percent of the charters are for-profit. And Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale recently issued a report and declared his state’s charter school law the “worst” in the nation. It’s a race to the bottom.
California, called the charter Wild West, deserves special attention. I have been posting a series of four reports on the state’s charter sector. This is the third.
The state has more charter schools and charter school students than any other state in the nation. One billionaire even came up with a secret plan to “charterize” half of the Los Angeles Unified School District. Among the problems: