Sunday, September 21, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Another day, another fishy charter school

Another day, another fishy charter school

This may have happened in Pittsburgh...but if you're a Pennsylvania taxpayer, then you're paying for this:

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Tens of thousands of dollars spent at Pittsburgh’s finest restaurants, top-flight catering at every staff and school meeting, administration and board retreats to exclusive resorts and spas.

That’s just for starters.

Your tax dollars went to cell phones for board member spouses, and even to develop another school out of state.

Now the feds are investigating spending practices at the Pittsburgh Urban Pathways Charter Schools. Some of the initial reports looks pretty fishy:

Meanwhile, DePasquale blasted the school’s annual retreats by board members and administrators to resorts like Bedford Springs or two-week stays in places like Sea Isle City, N.J.

“If people want to go to a resort, they have every right to do that with their own money,” he said.

Instead, they spent yours...because they could. Am I saying that all charter schools are evil? No. It's important to understand what charter schools were supposed to be, and what they weren't. A couple of decades ago, the idea was that charter schools would be small, nimble learning labs...improved teaching techniques and work rules could be transferred to public schools (where most students would still be educated) to the benefit of all.

Then the scammers and the politically connected started to compete with the more legitimate ones. The bottom line is that charter schools are bleeding public schools into bankruptcy, and yet study after study shows they perform no better. The worst offenders are behind bars or under indictment, and yet the drum beat for corporate education reform gets louder. When the state finally freed up $45 million for Philadelphia, it turned out they owed $10 million of that to charters...and now lawmakers in Harrisburg want to free up charters to siphon away as many more students as they can.

Which can only mean we'll be creating more boondoggles like the Pittsburgh Urban Pathways Charter School on the future.

About this blog
Will Bunch, a senior writer at the Philadelphia Daily News, blogs about his obsessions, including national and local politics and world affairs, the media, pop music, the Philadelphia Phillies, soccer and other sports, not necessarily in that order.

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