California charter schools have taken millions of public dollars meant for small businesses

Here’s our pick of recent news about the effort to privatize public education in California and the families, students, and teachers fighting back.

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As small businesses suffer, charter schools are double dipping in coronavirus aid. From the New York Times: “Charter schools, which are publicly funded but privately run, are securing coronavirus relief meant for businesses even as they also benefit from public school aid.”

Last week, journalist Erica Green wrote about In the Public Interest’s new report, coauthored by Parents United for Public Schools, on charter schools double dipping by applying for loans through the federal Paycheck Protection Program. Congress intended the program to keep businesses and nonprofits from shedding jobs and closing their doors during the pandemic. However, parents, activists, and researchers have identified at least $50 million in forgivable loans flowing to the school.

The report finds that nearly $19 million has been awarded to charter schools in the Oakland Unified School District, with 70 percent of the district’s 43 charter schools accepting the funding. “We have money for small businesses, we have money for schools. And when they’re using both of these sources for the same need, it’s doing a real disservice to the community,” said In the Public Interest Senior Policy Advisor Clare CrawfordThe New York Times

More California charter schools take small business relief. NBC 7 investigated charter schools and PPP funding in Calfiornia. “Some of the recipients include large charter school companies with campuses throughout California such as Learn4Life, and Magnolia Public Schools are among those that received millions in PPP loans.” NBC 7

Bullis Charter School in Los Altos, California, has been awarded $2 million in forgivable loans through a federal relief program meant to help struggling small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. Mountain View Voice

Palisades Charter High School, in swanky Pacific Palisades, California, also took money from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). “Since the government funds its operations, Palisades Charter High School’s revenue has not been affected by Covid-19. The school is also supposed to operate as a non-profit, not a business. Still, the school’s Chief Business Officer, Greg Wood, applied for a $4.606 million dollar loan from the PPP. He did so without receiving prior approval from the school’s governing board.” Patch

“Billionaires and the Origins of California’s Charter School Movement.” OB Rag tells the story of New Schools Venture Fund (NSVF), a “Swiss army knife of public school privatization.” OB Rag

How K12 Inc. expects to profit off of the pandemic’s school closures. The Hechinger Report’s “Future of Learning” looks at K12 Inc.’s outlook as coronavirus rolls on. “Problems such as low graduation ratesdismal student achievement and high student turnover at many K12 schools are the result of a business model that prioritizes keeping down the costs of educating students, said Neil Campbell, director of innovation for K-12 Education Policy at the Center for American Progress.” The Hechinger Report

How did cops end up in U.S. schools? On her podcast Have You Heard, journalist Jennifer Berkshire digs into three cities, including Los Angeles, and goes back 60 years to another era wracked by mass social protest: the 1960’s. She talks with students in Boston and historians Matt KautzJudith Kafka, and Louis MercerHave You Heard