4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

At left: Buzz Woolley

Things don't seem to be going so well for the future of charter schools in California, what with news today, reported by the Sacramento Bee, that the federal government has pulled $11.5 million of funding to set up new California charter schools and could take away more.

According to the Bee, the U.S. Department of Education warned state education officials for months that they were not in compliance with requirements of the Charter Schools Program, providing funding for two- and three-year grants for new charter schools, because they didn’t pay enough attention to keeping track of student achievement.

The Bee quoted Jed Wallace, president of the California Charter Schools Association, as disputing the federal agency's findings: "In California we have a robust accountability system and are working to make it stronger. I don't think it is a reason to deny any portion of this grant."

In the meanwhile, a few wealthy San Diegans have been anteing up big money for future political efforts in the state capital on behalf of charter schools.

They are channeling their contributions through the Alliance of California Charter Schools, which state records show has set up both a political action committee and a separate independent expenditure committee.

According to state records, the PAC raised $52,625.28 during the first six months of this year. Local contributors included $6,500 each from Point Loma resident and cross-border real estate mogul Malin Burnham; La Jolla investor, philanthropist, and Voice of San Diego founder Buzz Woolley ; and CAC Advisory Services, run by Woolley ally and fellow charter schools advocate Rod Dammeyer.

CAC and Dammeyer were major financial backers of San Diegans 4 Great Schools, a political committee which also received significant funding from Qualcomm founder Irwin Jacobs.

That effort, opposed by the teachers union, foundered last month when the group was not able to collect sufficient signatures to qualify its controversial ballot measure to expand the school board, in part with appointed members.

In addition to his April 8 PAC contribution, on June 24 Woolley gave $25,000 to the charter school alliance’s independent expenditure committee. On the same day, CAC Advisory Services gave the committee $150,000.

The biggest donor of all was Netflix founder and CEO Reed Hastings, who contributed $493,500.

In all, the independent expenditure committee raised a total of $1,287,000.

Comments
3

Finally, charter school failure to comply is being punished.

There are many ways that charter schools fail to comply. The Aug 15 & 22 2011 issue of The New Yorker has an interesting article on Michelle Bachmann, including her participation in founding a charter school in Stillwater, MN.

Bachmann and her followers feel that public schools exist only to indoctrinate children with anti-biblical dogma. Bachmann is a follower and student of Steven Wilkins (the Civil War was a "theological war" and slavery was a benevolent solution to caring for pagan Africans who couldn't care for themselves until they found god), David A. Noebel (a John Bircher homophobe who warns against America's greatest evil, the "secular humanist worldview"), and John Eidsmoe, whom Bachmann encountered when she attended law school at Oral Roberts University. Eidsmoe authored "Christianity and the Constitution," and Bachmann is proud of Eidsmoe's influence, openly advocating that American life should be "permeated with a distinctively Christian flavoring."

To set up the New Heights School charter, a publicly funded school, Bachmann and fellow boardmembers had to sign an agreement with the Stillwater School District, per Minnesota regulations for publicly funded schools, mandating that all charter school activities would be nonsectarian.

From the beginning, board minutes record evangelical, god-oriented plans for the curriculum and blatant violations of the nonsectarian agreement. Parents complained of classroom creationism teachings. Within 6 months, Bachmann and her friend, the school's CEO and evangelical activist, Dennis Meyer, resigned, under threat of charter revocation, and the school eliminated all religious elements from the curriculum.

Aug. 19, 2011

If only charter schools could deliver the education that their supporters claim to want. When the concept rolled out in California in the early- to mid-1990's, it seemed unbeatable. Schools, freed from the crushing mandates and bureaucracies of the state Education Code could concentrate on teaching, innovating, and reaching kids the regular schools miss.

The reality has been quite different. For every charter school that excels, there are dozens that achieve only mediocrity, and many end up mired in scandal. The governing boards, with their limited resources cannot find competent administrators and fall for charlatans who make lavish promises that cannot be kept. Or, worse yet, they hire some for-profit business to take over the day-to-day management of the school for a fat fee. Then the fee ends up in the pocket of some unqualified administrator who mismanages the school into failure. (Yes, this has happened many times, and in San Diego County.)

The motives of these wealthy backers of the charter school movement are suspect. Many just don't like the idea of public schools that must take all comers. But they also don't like the idea of having to pay the full cost of private or parochial schools. So a charter school that caters to them, yet is largely or fully paid for with public funds, is the goal.

In the near future we will see and hear more scandals involving this recent proliferation of charter schools. As those schools take enrollment away from the regular public schools, the job facing those schools becomes more demanding. As it now stands, the chartering school districts are ill-equipped to properly oversee the charters, and they generally operate with little control or public scrutiny of how public funds are spent.

But who suffers when a charter school fails to deliver? The kids who were supposed to be getting an education is who.

Aug. 19, 2011

Arne Duncan actually cracking down on charters? A welcome development and long overdue.

Please note that CA Charters Schools chief Jeb Wallace was a just a trainee in the front office at San Diego Unified under Superintendent Alan Bersin, paid with Gates Foundation money.

Aug. 19, 2011

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Art Reviews — W.S. Di Piero's eye on exhibits Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Best Buys — San Diego shopping Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits City Lights — News and politics Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Famous Former Neighbors — Next-door celebs Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Here's the Deal — Chad Deal's watering holes Just Announced — The scoop on shows Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Of Note — Concert picks Out & About — What's Happening Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Pour Over — Grab a cup Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Set 'em Up Joe — Bartenders' drink recipes Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Sports — Athletics without gush Street Style — San Diego streets have style Suit Up — Fashion tips for dudes Theater Reviews — Local productions Theater antireviews — Narrow your search Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Waterfront — All things ocean Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close