What the public isn’t told about high-performing charter schools in Arizona
President Trump’s first federal budget proposal seeks a $168 million increase for charter schools, which is a 50 percent funding increase from the current level set by the previous Obama administration. For Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, charters are one tool in the school choice tool box that they say will be front and center of their education reform agenda.
Charter schools — which are publicly funded but privately operated, sometimes by for-profit companies — have been proliferating for some 25 years and today there are thousands in the United States. While the few million students they enroll are a fraction of the number of young people who attend K-12 schools in this country, the charter movement has been a key part of the school choice movement and the education reform debate.
Supporters of charter schools say they give parents an alternative to failing traditional public schools. Critics say they take vital resources away from traditional public schools and that many charters are poorly run.
While some charter schools are well-run and high-performing, others aren’t, and some states that allow charters have little or no oversight. A 2016 audit by the Education Department’s Inspector General’s Office found that the department — which awards multi-million-dollar grants to states for the creation and expansion of charters — had failed to provide adequate oversight of some of its relationships with charter management organizations.
This post details issues with charter schools in Arizona. It was written by Carol Burris, a former New York high school principal who is executive director of the nonprofit Network for Public Education. She has been chronicling problems with corporate school reform for years on this blog, and this post is part of her occasional series about troubled charter schools in California and other states.