To the Editor:
The recent Commentary “Untie Charters’ Bureaucratic Strings” by Jeanne Allen (Feb. 8, 2017) is another addition to the mythology about charter schools, which the author believes are “suffering from regulatory strangulation.” To the contrary, any time you have a multi-billion-dollar industry—such as charters—that is largely without transparency and accountability, you are asking for problems.
It is ironic that in the same Education Week issue as Allen’s Commentary, a news item entitled “FBI Raids L.A. Offices of Charter Network” also appeared. Multiple law-enforcement agencies are investigating allegations of fraud and fiscal mismanagement at Celerity Schools, a California charter management company.
In Michigan, a state with some of the weakest charter laws in the nation and the home state of U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, an intensive Detroit Free Press investigation uncovered widespread fraud, nepotism, fiscal mismanagement, and serious ethical concerns among many Detroit charter schools, some of the worst-performing schools in the state.
Finally, Allen’s assertion that less regulation improves education raises the question: If less regulation is good for schools, why shouldn’t traditional schools also be less regulated? At least there would be a level playing field.
William J. Price
Professor of Educational Leadership
Eastern Michigan University
A version of this article appeared in the March 08, 2017 edition of Education Week as Reader: Commentary Adds to Charter School ‘Mythology’