Target: Jed Wallace, President and Chief Executive Officer of the California Charter Schools Association
Goal: Condemn the support of school administrators’ felony crimes, including misuse of public funds
Thousands of charter schools have sprung up across the United States, heralded by some as the “cure” for public education’s ills. Charter schools receive taxpayer money, in addition to donations, but are run as private entities with a business-like model. Administrators make more than their public school counterparts, while teachers typically make less. Promises of improved student performance often fail to materialize. But even more disturbing is the belief, shared by many, that charter schools are literally above the law.
When operators of one California charter school were found guilty of embezzlement and misuse of more than $200,000 in public funds, the California Charter Schools Association (CCSA) came out in support of the accused. The CCSA claims that charter schools are exempt from criminal laws governing public schools because they are run by private corporations. This ignores, and even seeks to excuse, administrators’ wasteful mismanagement: despite securing a low lease for the school property they charged the school more than double that amount, while paying themselves annual salaries of up to $160,000 a piece, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The CCSA’s support for the convicted administrators is deeply disappointing. Attempts to justify their falsely-filed tax returns and other criminal behavior calls into question the true motives and values of the charter schools they oversee. Tell the CCSA that without greater accountability and integrity, charter schools have no right to public support.
Dear Mr. Wallace,
The communities that support charter schools have the right to expect that their tax dollars will be wisely spent. After the CCSA came out in support of embezzlement, misuse of public funds, and other felony crimes, however, that faith has been badly shaken. This move has caused many families to question whether charter school administrators can be trusted to uphold any laws at all.
The CCSA has argued that criminal laws governing public schools don’t apply to their chartered counterparts, despite their dependence on tax dollars. Is it appropriate for administrators to grossly overcharge schools for facility rent, or to file fraudulent tax returns? To spend tens of thousands of dollars on meals, parties and gifts? Your association may support these practices, but thankfully California’s courts do not.
Charter schools clearly require more oversight, if this is the sort of behavior they consider acceptable. Individual administrators’ poor judgement aside, the CCSA’s support of the crimes is a reason for genuine concern. I call on you and the CCSA to cease defending criminal behavior, on any grounds, and to hold the schools in your jurisdiction to a higher moral standard in the future.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Deval Kulshrestha via Wikimedia