Cashing in on Kids: Charter schools are more likely to ignore special education students

Cashing in on Kids is In the Public Interest’s pick of recent news about the privatization of public education. Not a subscriber? Sign up. Make sure to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

The charter school lobby’s influence is eye-popping. Education consultant and writer Wendy Leckersums up the difference between grassroots community organizing for public education and the charter school lobby. “Teachers, many of whom were forced to hold down several jobs, took to the streets to protest deplorable conditions they and their students endured as a result of political leaders underfunding public schools. They were joined by parents, children and community members. The charter effort, by contrast, is powered by wealthy, out-of-state individuals with little or no connection to public schools spending huge sums of money to buy elections. At the same time, the popularity of charter schools is waning across the country.” CT Post

When neighborhood schools are forced to share with charter schools, many students suffer. California’s Prop 39, the bizarre law forcing neighborhood public schools to give space to privately operated charter schools, strikes again. As Leonardo Castañeda reports, a proposed charter school is suing the San Jose school district for space—for the second time. The Mercury News

Betsy DeVos, Mark Zuckerberg, and Bill Gates want your kid’s school to close. Students at charter schools, which are publicly funded but privately operated, are two and a half times more likely to have their school close than those at traditional, neighborhood schools. But charter school closures aren’t just shockingly routine. They’re also a selling point for the deep-pocketed voices aiming to privatize public education. In the Public Interest

Charter schools are more likely to ignore special education students, study finds. According to education researchers Peter Bergman and Isaac McFarlin, charter schools are less likely to respond to application inquiries from parents of students with severe disabilities. Arianna Protheroreports that the researchers sent emails from fictitious parents to nearly 6,500 charter and traditional public schools in 29 states and the District of Columbia, about half of all charter schools in the country. These charter schools were 5.8 percentage points less likely to respond to a query claiming to be from a parent of a student with severe disabilities. Education Week

LA charter leader found guilty. The founder of Los Angeles charter school network Celerity Educational Group has agreed to plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to misappropriate and embezzle public funds. As Anna Phillipsreports, Vielka McFarlane used the network’s credit card to purchase expensive meals, high-end salon visits, limousine trips, and luxury hotel stays with no evidence of paying the money back. Meanwhile, some Celerity teachers reported feeling forced to lean on students to fundraise for basic school supplies. As we found last year, total alleged and confirmed fraud and waste in California’s charter schools has reached over $149 million—and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Los Angeles Times