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Friday, June 30, 2023



Privatization and corporate education reform have been touted as the saviors of our education system. However, as with any movement, there are always those who seek to exploit it for their own gain. And in the case of privatization and corporate education reform, that exploitation has taken the form of corruption, crimes, and scandals.

Let's start with corruption. It's no secret that privatization and corporate education reform have been driven by money. Private companies see education as a lucrative market, and they're not afraid to use their financial muscle to influence policy. This has led to a system where decisions about education are made not based on what's best for students, but on what's best for the bottom line.

Take, for example, the case of the charter school industry. Charter schools are publicly funded but privately run, and they've been touted as a way to improve education outcomes for students in struggling schools. However, the reality is that many charter schools are run by for-profit companies that prioritize profits over student success. These companies often engage in shady practices like inflating enrollment numbers to receive more funding or using public funds for personal gain.

And then there are the scandals. In recent years, we've seen a number of high-profile cases of fraud and embezzlement in the charter school industry. In 2016, the founder of a chain of charter schools in California was sentenced to four years in prison for embezzling $3.2 million in public funds. In 2018, a charter school in Indiana was shut down after it was revealed that school officials had used public funds to buy luxury cars and take vacations.

But it's not just the charter school industry that's been plagued by corruption and scandal. The push for corporate education reform has also led to a number of questionable practices in traditional public schools. For example, many school districts have signed contracts with private companies to provide services like testing or curriculum development. These contracts often come with hefty price tags and little oversight, leading to accusations of waste and abuse.

So what can be done about all this corruption, crime, and scandal? One solution is to increase transparency and accountability in the education system. This means requiring charter schools and private companies to disclose their finances and operations, as well as holding them accountable for any wrongdoing. It also means ensuring that decisions about education are made based on what's best for students, not what's best for private companies' bottom lines.

In the end, privatization and corporate education reform may have started with good intentions. But when profit becomes the driving force behind education policy, it's students who suffer. It's time to put an end to the corruption, crime, and scandal that have plagued this movement and refocus our efforts on providing all students with a high-quality education.

Here are some of the various crimes that charter schools have been charged with:

  • Falsifying attendance records and test scores: This is a common way for charter schools to inflate their performance and receive more public funding. In some cases, schools have even been caught creating fake students or enrolling students who never attended classes.
  • Stealing public funds: Charter schools are often given public funding based on the number of students they enroll. However, there have been cases of schools inflating their enrollment numbers or pocketing the money meant for students.
  • Improper hiring practices: Charter schools are not always subject to the same hiring regulations as public schools. This has led to cases of schools hiring unqualified teachers or staff, or discriminating against certain groups of students.
  • Abuse of students: There have been cases of charter schools physically or emotionally abusing students. In some cases, schools have even been accused of neglect or endangerment.
  • Financial fraud: Charter schools are often responsible for managing their own finances. This has led to cases of schools misusing funds, engaging in conflicts of interest, or failing to properly account for their spending.
  • Tax evasion: Charter schools are often exempt from paying certain taxes. However, there have been cases of schools failing to report their income or assets to the IRS.
  • Bribery: Charter schools may be tempted to bribe officials in order to secure favorable treatment, such as a renewal of their charter or a larger allocation of public funding.
  • Money laundering: Charter schools may be used as a front for money laundering, a process by which criminals conceal the origins of illegally obtained money.
  • Extortion: Charter schools may be threatened or intimidated by criminals in order to pay them protection money.

These are just a few of the various crimes that charter schools have been charged with. It is important to note that not all charter schools are corrupt, but the cases that have been documented raise serious concerns about the potential for abuse in this sector.

Charter Scandals - Network For Public Education 

California Charter School Scandals Shows the Movement Is a Vehicle for Fraud & Corruption 

Report: California ‘wasting’ millions of dollars funding online charter schools - The Washington Post