May 9, 2014

Release: House Passes $300M Giveaway to Charter Industry With Few Accountability or Transparency Measures to Prevent Fraud

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
May 9, 2014

Contact:
TJ Helmstetter, Center for Popular Democracy
(973) 464-9224; [email protected]

Sabrina Stevens, Integrity in Education
(720) 295-0238; [email protected]

NO STRINGS ATTACHED: HOUSE PASSES $300M GIVEAWAY TO CHARTER INDUSTRY WITH FEW ACCOUNTABILITY OR TRANSPARENCY MEASURES TO PREVENT FRAUD

Bill Passes Days After Release of Report Detailing Over $100M in Waste, Fraud, and Abuse by Charter Operators

(WASHINGTON) — Following the passage of H.R. 10, the charter school bill heard in Congress this week, leaders from two groups, the Center for Popular Democracy and Integrity in Education reacted with disappointment.

Both groups released a report this week finding that poor oversight of the charter sector has resulted in charter school leaders in 14 states and the District of Columbia stealing or losing over $100 million in taxpayer dollars. The report only examined those 15 geographies, representing one-third of the states where charter schools operate nationwide.

“Given the sheer volume of waste, fraud and abuse we found even in our look at just 15 of the 42 states that have charter schools, it’s very disappointing that the House would vote to pass a bill that includes so little in the way of oversight,” said Kyle Serrette, Director of Education Justice Campaigns at the Center for Popular Democracy. “But we are all very heartened by the 45 congressional representatives who voted no on the bill. We are especially grateful to Representative Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) and Representative Gwen Moore (D-WI), among others, for their leadership in attempting to add common sense protections to this bill.”

“Charter schools were supposed to empower educators to explore new ways of educating some of our neediest students, thus helping students and the public school system as a whole,” said Sabrina Joy Stevens, Executive Director of Integrity in Education. “They were never meant to be the profitable industry they have become. It’s indeed disappointing to see the House pass a bill that would leave children and taxpayers vulnerable to fraud and abuse, but it’s very encouraging that some representatives had the courage to do the right thing. We look forward to seeing which members of the Senate exhibit that same courage.”

More information about the “Charter School Vulnerabilities to Waste, Fraud, and Abuse” report from the Center for Popular Democracy and Integrity in Education is available here.

The report was cited by Reps. Grijalva and Moore in their statements opposing H.R. 10. The bill was opposed by 45 members, including 11 Republicans and 34 Democrats, despite heavy lobbying from the charter industry. A companion version of H.R. 10 was recently introduced in the Senate, but has not yet been acted upon.

The “Charter School Vulnerabilities to Waste, Fraud, and Abuse” report has been highlighted by the Washington Post, Salon, the website of education leader Diane Ravitch, Education Week, and other publications.

The Center for Popular Democracy (CPD) promotes equity, opportunity, and a dynamic democracy in partnership with innovative base-building organizations, organizing networks and alliances, and progressive unions across the country. CPD builds the strength and capacity of democratic organizations to envision and advance a pro-worker, pro-immigrant, racial and economic justice agenda.

Integrity in Education is a nonprofit organization dedicated to restoring integrity to the conversation about education. Integrity in Education exists to shine a light on the people making a positive difference for children, and to expose and oppose the corporate interest groups standing in their way.

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