Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Public schools failure to plan in DC: #1 -- Charter school leaders using control of schools to create related companies to siphon off monies

I don't see why anyone is surprised that an increasing number of DC charter school operators are being charged with theft of services, for creating "un"related for profit corporations owned by the leaders of "non"profit charter schools, separate from the school governance and business structure, to sell-provide services to the school at a profit. See "D.C. officials seek stronger oversight of charter schools after recent fraud allegations," Washington Post.

(Unrelatedly... I was talking to the president of the Maryland Institute of Contemporary Arts in Baltimore about colleges and revitalization and the difference between SCAD in Savannah and his institution.  He pointed out that the managers-founders of the college in Savannah personally own all the property that the college uses, and lease it to the college, but benefit personally from the appreciation in property value.)

That's been going on as long as DC charter schools have existed, which is almost 20 years. The problems with Options School and now CAPCS ("DC officials allege improper diversion of charter funds," Post) are merely public.

The way that charter schools "are set up" is to foster and encourage abuse, not unlike how lack of networked systems and services for DC's Advisory Neighborhood Commissions fosters a climate where it is possible to embezzle (see the past blog entry "Networked solutions for some problems with ANCs in DC").

ClearanceJobs | EventStudents at Community Academy Public Charter School in Washington, DC.  Flickr photo.

To get economies of scale, "services" to the various independent charter schools should have been provided on a centralized basis, so that the school leadership team could have focused on "adding value" as it relates to curriculum and instruction.

Instead, many have seen the opportunity to profit personally and they have taken advantage.

Note that this is a problem with government organization at the local government level more generally.  For centuries, there have been bosses and political machines that used the levers of government to hire people, let contracts, etc., in ways that they were able to benefit personally.

Today's feeders at the trough are just the latest iteration of the problem.

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