Monday, June 30, 2014

Am I Just Cherry Picking Charter School Disasters?

Jeff Bryant has done a pretty impressive job of documenting many instances of corruption in the charter school sector. And I have not been able to control my outrage here about the misdeeds of several charter schools companies, especially the highly questionable cyber-charter industry.

But wait. Are traditional public schools the land of the righteous? Isn't there corruption and plenty of miscreants running traditional public schools? Well, their malfeasances are not showing up in my mailbox; but perhaps that is just the result of selective attention. Am I purposely overlooking all the corruption in traditional public schools which could be occurring at the same rate as corruption in the charter realm?

I may be cherry picking, but it's hard to believe if true. Just look at the question of compensation of these principals or "directors" of charter school systems. Eva Moskovitz, who runs a dozen or so charter schools in NYC, pays herself about a half million dollars a year. Now that doesn't sound like a job much more taxing than being the superintendent of a modest sized school district in most urban centers in the country. But my friends tell me that superintendents in comparable circumstances might make $200,000 if they are lucky and a $500,000 salary would be unheard of.

There are about 5,000 - 6,000 charter schools in the country. There are about 95,000 traditional public schools. Now if corruption is as prevalent in the traditional sector, we should see about 20 times more reports of it as we do in the charter sector. Is it out there and I just don't see it? Or is corruption much more prevalent among those who operate charter schools?

Tell me. Write me (gvglass @, or post comments here. Are traditional public school administrators 20 times more likely to be ripping off the public?

Gene V Glass
Arizona State University
National Education Policy Center
University of Colorado Boulder

The opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not represent the official position of NEPC, Arizona State University, nor the University of Colorado Boulder.

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