By Valerie Strauss
Indiana was ranked 46th — of 50 states plus the District of Columbia — meaning that it is further along the privatization track than most other places in the country. For privatization advocates, that ranking would be looked upon favorably. For advocates of public education, it isn’t.
[There is a movement to privatize public education in America. Here’s how far it has gotten.]
The Journal Gazette in Indiana wrote a July 8 editorial about that report, saying in part:
Indiana’s dismal record for oversight of online charter schools is one reason it earned its own failing grade in a report evaluating the extent to which states divert money from traditional public schools to private schools and charter schools operated by for-profit management companies. The survey, by the Network for Public Education and the Schott Foundation, which might be easily dismissed as biased except that its findings are irrefutable, notes:
• Indiana has three separate programs designed to funnel tax dollars from public schools, at a conservative estimate of $171 million a year. “Indiana law has continued to morph over the years so that prior enrollment in a public school is no longer needed to receive a voucher for private school,” wrote Carol Burris, executive director of the Network for Public Education. “That means that taxpayers are now funding private school tuition previously paid for by parents.”
• Private schools receiving tax dollars are allowed to discriminate against students for whom English is not their first language by not providing services and can discriminate in enrollment on the basis of religion. “It is a system in which the school, not the parent, does the choosing.” Burris wrote in an email.
• Failing charter schools have been allowed to convert to voucher schools, so that they can “continue indefinitely,” Burris wrote.
D.C. is misspending millions of dollars intended to help the city’s poorest students
The District’s public school system has misspent millions of dollars designated to help the city’s most vulnerable students, directing the money instead to cover day-to-day costs, according to government data, D.C. Council members and education activists.
The money is intended to provide extra academic attention and social services to boost the academic performance of children who lag behind their wealthier peers. But D.C. Public Schools uses a big chunk of the money to plug holes in the budget, covering routine costs such as paying the salaries of art teachers and aides.
“There’s no way we are going to help those students rise out of poverty if we don’t give them what they need,” said Ava Millstone, a parent at Amidon-Bowen Elementary, a school near the Southwest Waterfront with a large population of low-income students.
DCPS distributes about $50 million a year to benefit disadvantaged students in the District’s traditional public schools. That amounts to about $2,000 per eligible child. But nearly half of the money in the 2016-2017 academic year was used for other purposes, according to an independent budget analysis conducted by Mary Levy, a longtime schools budget analyst who in the past has worked as a paid consultant to the school system.
View the whole story: https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/dc-is-misspending-millions-of-dollars-intended-to-help-the-citys-poorest-students/2018/04/14/6006c02a-3788-11e8-9c0a-85d477d9a226_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.e5ebaaecfb81
By the Arizona Republic Editorial Board
Twenty years ago, Arizona was on the cutting edge of school choice and the charter school movement was designed to produce specific goals for parents, students and schools. It’s time look at how it worked.
They had a record 180,000 students in the 2016-17 school year, according to the Arizona Charter Schools Association. They received more than $1 billion in public money in fiscal 2016, according to the Joint Legislative Budget Committee.
But a new report shows disturbing consequences from Arizona’s failure to demand accountability and transparency from these publicly funded operations.
The report from the Grand Canyon Institute, a centrist think tank, needs to become part of ongoing discussions about larger issue of school funding in Arizona.
Lax rules invite financial abuses
It identified practices that invite financial abuses at charter schools but are not illegal under Arizona law.
The three-year study also found that administrative salaries are higher in charter schools and teacher salaries are lower than in district public schools. In addition, classroom spending and academic performance are both lower in charters than in district schools.
View the full article here
By Scott Daugherty, The Virginian-Pilot
The co-owner of a Chesapeake barber college was sentenced Wednesday to more than five years in prison on charges he defrauded the Veterans Affairs Department out of more than $4.5 million.
His wife, the other owner, is to be sentenced Friday in U.S. District Court in Norfolk.
But what about the more than 350 veterans who collected over $10.5 million in GI Bill benefits while attending the “sham school,” where the unofficial motto was “We’re here to earn, not to learn”?
That remains unclear.
To date, no students have been charged, and a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia declined to comment. Joshua Stueve cited an “ongoing investigation.”
When they finish looking into the College of Beauty and Barber Culture in Chesapeake, prosecutors will have to review each student’s case.
But even if they wanted to pursue charges against 350-some students, they probably couldn’t. The Norfolk office secured only 172 federal indictments total in 2016.
Chesapeake Commonwealth’s Attorney Nancy Parr said this week that federal authorities had not referred any cases relating to the barber college to her office.
William Grobes IV, 45, pleaded guilty in November to two felonies: conspiracy to commit wire fraud and engaging in monetary transactions in property derived from specified unlawful activity.
By Christina Hall, Detroit Free Press
A Michigan high school teacher was trusted to coordinate student events, including homecoming and a student-parent trip. Instead, she stole thousands of dollars from the students.
Macomb County, Mich., authorities said Thursday that Lydia Johnson blew it as part of the more than $90,000 she spent last year playing penny slots at MGM Grand Detroit casino.
A search of her classroom at Dakota High School revealed several casino receipts next to the open and empty homecoming envelopes, prosecutor Eric Smith said in a news release.
“This teacher held a position of trust within the high school,” he said. “She repaid that trust by feeding student funds into a slot machine.”
View the full story: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2017/09/22/teacher-steals-homecoming-money/692200001/
By Juan Perez Jr., Tribune News Service
The misuse of gift cards was among a long list of alleged wrongdoing by teachers, principals and district families in the IG’s annual report, which was released Wednesday. Among other findings of the report, which does not identify schools or employees by name:
• An elementary school principal spent at least $22,000 in school funds for personal purchases at Costco and Apple stores.
• A district agricultural program employee used his meat processing company to sell eggs produced at the school for a profit.
• A principal used school funds to fund a “teachers’ lunch club” featuring lobster, shrimp and steaks.
• Families continued to use false addresses to get their children into highly competitive selective-enrollment programs.
The report covers investigations completed between July 2016 and the end of last June. It also summarized investigations that led to the ouster of district CEO Forrest Claypool, who resigned in December after being accused of trying to undermine an ethics investigation; found irregularities at a high school program for Cook County Jail inmates; and questioned the ability of blacklisted CPS employees to find work at independently operated district schools.
View the whole Story:
By Alisha Kirby
(Ohio) Charter schools that inflate enrollment figures will have to return the funds to the districts the students were pulled from under an Ohio House Republican bill that moved to the state Senate Monday.
Under existing law, the Auditor of State is responsible for determining if public money distributed to brick-and-mortar and online charter schools has been misused. Currently, the Ohio Department of Education collects the overpayments discovered in state audits.
HB 87, sponsored by Rep. Kristina Roegner, R-Hudson, would direct that money back to the student’s local public school district, instead of the state.
The bill is a direct response to the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow–previously the state’s largest online school and a top Republican donor–which closed in the middle of this school year after unsuccessfully suing to conceal student records and then fighting the state’s demand to be repaid $59 million for students who never received an education through the school.
In addition to that $59 million, the State Auditor’s office has cited more than $29 million in tax dollars misappropriated by other charter schools since 2001. In 2014, state audits showed that charter schools–which enroll less than 7 percent of Ohio’s 1.6 million public students–accounted for 70 percent of all misspent state funding.
In 2015, State Auditor Dave Yost sent investigators unannounced to conduct head counts at brick-and-mortar charter schools across the state and found that half of the students enrolled couldn’t be accounted for. The count did not include harder-to-track online schools like ECOT.
Last year, Yost announced that his office had discovered ECOT’s $59 million in student funds that couldn’t be tied to actual learning time. In conducting its financial audit of the online school, state auditors found ECOT was unable capture the amount of time a student is actively logged into the system during the 2015-16 school year. Such information is required by the state to show precisely how much time each student spent learning.
President Trump signed legislation Tuesday that renews a federal workforce development program, sending $1.2 billion a year to states but with fewer requirements from Washington on how to spend the money and assess the success of programs. Ivanka Trump talks about the newly signed Perkins Vocational Education Act on C-Span.
A former senior education ministry official was indicted Tuesday on suspicion he accepted a favor from a private university last year in return for helping it secure a government subsidy. Futoshi Sano, 59, former director-general of the ministry’s science and technology bureau, is accused of helping Tokyo Medical University secure the subsidy in exchange for the admission of his son into the school. Sano has denied the allegation, saying he was not in a position to influence which universities received subsidies, a source close to the matter said.
By Andrew DeMillo
The former head of a defunct Arkansas nonprofit that helped at-risk youth pleaded guilty Thursday to diverting more than $120,000 from the group to an unnamed state senator in a widening corruption probe that has already ensnared several former lawmakers. Jerry Walsh pleaded guilty in federal court to conspiring to divert more than $380,000 from South Arkansas Youth Services without the authority of the organization’s board of directors.
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