The yearlong investigation makes clear that many federal and state education officials have bought into the school privatization movement’s rhetoric that an intentional lack of public oversight, reporting and accountability enables school operators to efficiently and creatively bring education innovation to underserved communities. The report points out that state after state has adopted legislation transferring the oversight of charters—which are still public schools—from locally elected school boards to remote and newly created state “authorizer” offices. Even though this template was created and promoted by right-wing advocacy groups with deep anti-union sentiments, such as the American Legislative Exchange Council, it has been embraced by blue and red states, as well as top federal education officials under the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations.
“What has evolved as a result of the more than $3.7 billion… the feds have spent fueling charters—plus other sums from states—is a classic example of ‘industry capture’ of the agencies charged with oversight by the industry they are tasked with overseeing,” CMD explains. “With such capture comes agency devotion to protecting funding, insulated by a lack of transparency about funding oversight and distorted through agency relationships with charter industry cheerleaders… That flexibility has allowed an epidemic of fraud, waste and mismanagement that would not be tolerated in public schools. Charters are policed—if they are policed at all—mainly by charter proponents.”
Doing away with oversight is a classical ploy of con artists to allow then to get away with their crimes. Of course they always claim that oversight will hamper the effectiveness of their programs. What they really mean is that oversight will hamper their efforts to con you.
The CMD report shatters the myth that the private sector always knows best how to do what is difficult and challenging for government. Its recommendations are timid when considering that its report shows public school privatizers can be as abuse-prone as the privatized prison industry or military contractors serving in war zones overseas. CMD is not calling for a pause or moratorium on continued charter school growth, simply for every level of government involved to track where the money is going and to publicly disclose it.
“This investigation reveals huge and continuing gaps in information provided to the public about federal and state tax dollars received by charters and how American taxpayer money is being spent,” the report concludes, adding that to respond “to these severe gaps” federal and state officials “should publish” annually detailed financial information about every school receiving government subsidies, as well as report any school that “never opens or closes voluntarily, or for any reason.”
Here is another example of moving activities from the Democratic Socialism sector of our social system to the Rigged-market Capitalism Sector. See my previous post New Terminology for Socio-Economic-Political Systems for a definition of these terms.