Online charter schools are getting hundreds of millions of dollars in COVID relief

Welcome to Cashing in on Kids, a weekly email newsletter for people fed up with the privatization of America’s public schools—produced by In the Public Interest.

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Online charter schools are getting hundreds of millions of dollars in COVID relief. Journalist Sarah Hofius Hall reports that Pennsylvania’s 12 online charter schools will receive an additional $141 million in federal COVID-19 relief funds through the American Rescue Plan. That brings the total relief for the schools, which have no buildings, to $201 million. The Citizens’ Voice

Mississippi charter school claimed to treat hospitalized kids. A charter school allegedly fleeced the Mississippi Department of Education out of more than $2 million from 2017 to 2020 using a program that serves hospitalized children. Mississippi Today

Charter school authorization contributes to systemic racism. A professor at the University of Arizona has published “The Price of Disaster: The Charter School Authorization Process in Post-Katrina New Orleans,” finding that “the charter school authorization process is embedded within and constitutive of on-going processes of racial formation and racialized power solidification.” University of Arizona

How we’re fighting back

No more outsized fees. Some small California school districts have been collecting millions of dollars in fees from online charter schools. But a new ruling in California’s A3 charter school case—in which two ringleaders recently pleaded guilty to pocketing tens of millions of dollars in public funds—has helped to clarify that the state’s school districts should only be taking as much money as it costs for them to oversee the charter schools they authorize. Voice of San Diego

Opposition mounts to charter school funding equalization. Oklahoma’s public school districts are banding together to fight a resolution recently passed by the state’s board of education to equalize funding for charter and traditional public schools. KGOU

What is “public” about public education? Education historian Jack Schneider (who coauthored the book “A Wolf at the Schoolhouse Door” with Jennifer Berkshire):  “We don’t have public schools in this country so that young people can win advantage in an unequal society (and we especially don’t have public schools so that racially and economically advantaged families can launder their privilege). Nor do we publicly fund education so that the private sector can reduce the costs of training labor. Instead, we tax ourselves to pay for universal K-12 education because public schools are the bulwark of a diverse, democratic society. Diane Ravitch’s Blog

Pittsburgh-area charter school educators are voting to unionize. Some 430 educators at the Propel Schools charter school network in Pennsylvania’s Allegheny County have begun voting in a unionization drive. Jacobin

Take action

Join Good Jobs First today (April 13) at 1:30 ET for an online discussion on how corporate tax breaks steal our children’s futures. Good Jobs First

Tell Congress to stop funding the federal Charter Schools Program, which is rife with waste and abuse. Network for Public Education Action

Join the National Public Education Support Fund on April 29 at 2:00pm ET for an online discussion about leveraging American Recovery Plan funds to advance community school strategies. National Public Education Support Fund

Photo by Nenad Stojkovic.