They’ll accuse them of corruption and the fix will destroy them. Easy.
In an appropriations bill released last month, House Democrats proposed a $40 million cut in federal funding for charter schools. Another provision in the bill could prove even worse for these schools. Under the bill, no federal funds can go to “any charter school that contracts with a for-profit entity to operate, oversee or manage the activities of the school.”
Charter school advocates find the regulation wrongheaded. Nina Rees, president and CEO of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, calls the language “pretty sloppy.” Others note that such a restriction could prevent charters from providing critical services—including educational technology, transportation, and food service—for which district schools also need contractors. State education departments and districts routinely contract with private firms and often enter lease arrangements for their own schools’ real estate (particularly when enrollment is growing).
The restrictions would limit the services these schools could provide. They would be prohibited, for example, from hiring contractors with specific expertise in serving special-needs students. And according to Anne Williams-Isom, the former CEO of the Harlem Children’s Zone and Promise Academy charter schools, charter schools often gain resources from private fundraising to hire college-preparatory, after-school sports, and other contractors that “give children access to things we could never have expertise in.” If the proposed provisions became law, the Department of Education could withhold critical federal support for schools that provide students with such opportunities—even if they aren’t funded by public money.
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