Monday, June 30, 2014

On the bright side, they are supporting the press

The Detroit Free Press has been running an exceptional series on the corruption and mismanagement of Michigan's charter schools. The coverage should be read in full and discussed at length, but for now I want to high light one darkly amusing detail.

Take a look at this list of abuses:
The Free Press found that questionable decisions, excessive spending and misuse of taxpayer dollars run the gamut:

■ A Sault Ste. Marie charter school board gave its administrator a severance package worth $520,000 in taxpayer money.

■ A Bedford Township charter school spent more than $1 million on swampland.

■ A mostly online charter school in Charlotte spent $263,000 on a Dale Carnegie confidence-building class, $100,000 more than it spent on laptops and iPads.

■ Two board members who challenged their Romulus school’s management company over finances and transparency were ousted when the length of their terms was summarily reduced by Grand Valley State University.

■ National Heritage Academies, the state’s largest for-profit school management company, charges 14 of its Michigan schools $1 million or more in rent — which many real estate experts say is excessive.

■ A charter school in Pittsfield Township gave jobs and millions of dollars in business to multiple members of the founder’s family.

■ Charter authorizers have allowed management companies to open multiple schools without a proven track record of success.
Here's how National Heritage Academies responded.

The trick here is numbingly familiar to anyone who has followed the debate closely. These corrupt schools wrap themselves with heart-warming images of school children the way scandal-ridden politicians wrap themselves in the flag. The hope, of course, is that people will form such a strong association that they won't notice that these schools are looting money that was supposed to go to these very kids.

For a closer look at National Heritage Academies, check here.

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