California aims to close legal loopholes after rash of online charter school scandals

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California wants to close legal loopholes for online charter schools. A bill has been introduced in the California legislature to prevent the abuses and close legal loopholes that were exposed by a recent online charter school scandal.

In February, the two creators of the now-defunct A3 charter school network plead guilty to conspiracy to commit theft of public funds and agreed to return more than $210 million in cash, 13 houses and shares in third-party companies.

“The days of handing out buckets of public money without accountability are ending.” The San Diego Union-Tribune

How the federal government’s charter school program went wrong. “Yet somewhere along the way, the [Charter School Program] forgot its duty to create and oversee a charter sector that benefited the public system and instead has chosen to reward schools that give narrow slices of children and families a publicly funded alternative to their local schools. NPE has called on members of Congress to ‘defund’ the [Charter School Program], saying it’s ‘a program that has lost its mission.’” AlterNet

How test publishers are poised to profit from pandemic “learning loss.” Akil Bello, senior director of advocacy and advancement at FairTest, writes: “This is not a time to allow the financial motivations and marketing by the testing industry to cause repetition of the last 50 years of ineffective policy and expenditure.” Forbes

Communities hardest hit by COVID are also harmed most by standardized testing. Jitu Brown and Beth Glenn of Journey for Justice write: “Test scores have been used to justify taking away learning opportunities in art, music and enrichment, replacing experienced teachers with untrained temporary ones, expanding charters to compete and drain already underfunded schools, and to disinvest in and close those underfunded schools altogether.” Truthout

How we’re fighting back

Community schools are a way to “build back better.” Doug Racine, a former lieutenant governor and former secretary of the Agency of Human Services of Vermont, writes: “The vision guiding community schools is that the supports our families and educators need to help kids learn should be found in our school buildings. Dental and health services, mental health counselors, pre-K programs, after-school and summer programs, family social services—all could be provided in our schools. These are not new services. They are all out there now but access is often difficult, especially in our rural areas.” VTDigger

Biden must address the public school mental health crisis. Author Sharlee DiMenichi argues that “Congress, state governors and legislators, and the Biden Administration should commit to dramatically increasing funding for hiring school counselors.” The Progressive

Take action

Join the Schott Foundation for an online discussion about the racist history of standardized testing Thursday April 29 at 5:00 PM ET. Speakers include Awo Okaikor Aryee-Price, Wayne Au, Denisha Jones, and Jesse Hagopian. Schott Foundation

Photo by Allison Shelley for EDUimages