Let’s Wish Diane a Happy Birthday

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Today is Diane’s 81st birthday.

She is the fiercest and most formidable defender of our nation’s public school system at a time when big money interests and privatizers want to destroy it. There is one gift she wants from all of us today and that is a donation to the Network for Public Education Action, the organization she leads. 

Please join me in making a donation to NPE Action to send your birthday greetings to Diane. And don’t forget to pre-order your copy of her new book by going here.

The Questions About Charter Schools the Presidential Candidates Should be Answering

When Democratic candidates are questioned about charter schools, many typically reply, “I am against for-profit charter schools.” Everyone cheers. Politicians have created a convenient (and false) dichotomy that says nonprofit charter schools are good, and for-profit charter schools are bad.

Don’t be fooled. There are now only 3 states that allow for-profit charter schools—Arizona, Michigan and Wisconsin. 

However, 35 states allow for-profit charter management companies (CMOS) to run their nonprofit charter schools

40% of the charter schools in Florida are run by for-profit Charter Management Organizations. While the individual charter is a nonprofit, it can turn over everything from hiring, to curriculum, to financial management to a for-profit corporation. In Michigan, 80% of the charter schools are run by for-profit companies. 

To understand how this arrangement works, read this blog I wrote for the Answer Sheet on Florida’s charter schools. You will read about the Zulueta brothers who were on the board of an Academica charter school even while their for-profit real estate companies, including one in Panama, were leasing property to the schools. 

Let me shock you a bit more. The National Alliance for (so-called) Public Charter Schools is giving this controversial profiteer an award this week!

You probably know the names and reputations of the other big for-profit CMOs—BASIS, National Heritage, Academica, K12 and more.

The question candidates need to answer then is “Do you support for-profit Charter Management Organizations, and if you do not, what are you going to do about them?”

There is a reason the charter lobby never complains when a candidate says that he/she is against for-profit charter schools. It means nothing will change.

The most important question to ask, however (and don’t let them off the hook), is whether they support the NAACP moratorium on new charter schools.