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Peter Greene has just discovered the most amazing fact about the U.S. Department of Education’s award of $157 million to the charter industry. The state that won the most money for charters is OHIO! Ohio, where there have been more charter scandals in the past few years than in any other state!
He says in the title of his post: Accountability is for public schools only.
Arne Duncan today held a press chat to announce that USED would be throwing more money ($157 million) at charter schools.
Throwing money at public schools is, you may recall, anathema to reformsters, who are concerned that while money has been thrown higgledy piggledy at public schools, it appears that insufficient amounts of the money have struck students in the test-taking parts of their brains.
Throwing money at public schools is bad, because we are just certain that they are wasting it and that the taxpayers are not getting a sufficient bang-to-buckage ratio.
But throwing money at charter schools is awesome, because we have no idea where the hell it’s going.
The department’s inspector general issued a report in 2012 that Lyndsey Layton calls “scathing.” The report suggests that the feds have been throwing that money at charters with blindfolds on. The Center for Media and Democracy has a more recent, more scathing report on the vast piles of money that has been thrown into charter black holes. “Gosh,” say the feds. “That’s a state problem. It’s up to them to exercise oversight. Not our problem.” Although, just in case you think USED is providing no oversight at all, I am happy to report they did send states a strongly worded letter, exhorting them to be more oversighty.
With all that, you’ll be unsurprised to discover that the top winner in the charter change chunking festival is the state of Ohio. Yes, that Ohio. The Ohio where hundreds of charters have failed in just about every way a charter can fail, the Ohio where the husband of the governor’s campaign manager had to resign from his ed department job because he was caught cooking the books to make charters look better (including some belonging to some political money throwers, proving that throwing money at politicians can also work well). That Ohio gets another $32.5 million to throw at charters. Even the journalists listening to Duncan’s news apparently felt the urge to question that decision, but USED assistant deputy secretary Nadya Dabby responded:
“Ohio has a pretty good mechanism in place to improve overall quality and oversight,” said Dabby, although she could not provide details. “We believe Ohio has put practices in place, although there ‘s always room for them to grow.”
Room to grow? Well, that’s one way of putting it. Another way would be to mention that under the Ohio charter law, helpfully written by charter lobbyists, any equipment purchased by charter operators with taxpayer dollars belongs to the charter operator as private property. Ohio is the state where the charter monitor for the state was fired for rigging grades to help the especially low-performing online charters.
It appears that Arne will keep throwing money at the charters as long as he is in office, no matter how little supervision or oversight there is.