Monday, August 18, 2014

Another Charter Scandal -- The Lack of Accountability Is Like the Wild West

Emma Brown revealed in the Washington Post in December that Jeremy Williams, the former DC Public Charter School Board CFO, helped Options Public Charter School and other charters funnel millions to privately owned contracting companies they owned and avoid oversight. Williams received $150,000 from the Options Board for his favors. The Washington Post only obtained the information by filing a FOIA request to obtain private emails. The private emails showed the CFO was in on what was going on and violated even the charter board's rules. This is not the first scandal resulting from the privatizing of public education in Washington DC. No other school system in the country has as lucrative payments to charters from public coffers. Public officials were asleep at the switch when the rules were made and now that 45% of students attend charters it will be hard to change the rules to impose accountability and transparency on the charter sector, but that is what must be done.

We could just keep updating this article with the scandal of the month. This piece appeard February 11, 2015 in the Washington Post.  The Dorothy I. Height Community Academy Public Charter Schools may be closed becasue its director seems to have used a private management organization to pay himself over $1 Million per year out of taxpayer dollars meant for the "public" school he ran. Amos insisted he was worth it. The charter Board met last week to consider closing the school but failed to make a decision.

Stepping Back to Consider What's Wrong With Existing Reform Emphasis

The NY Times published an interesting op-ed yesterday by University of California Professor David Kirp. This is just one of many critiques that have started to emerge now that the 8 years of reform in DC have proven not to move the needle for the students who need improvement most. It is time to consider whether the wrong reforms have been chosen in Washington DC and to consider what the research shows works. In that respect, Mayoral Candidate David Catania is exactly wrong when he acknowledges the track record of failure in DC and then concludes that we need to double down on the existing reform agenda. Rather, its time to hold the reformers, and the politicians who have rubber stamped their ill conceived direction, accountable.