Commentary

This is why turning our children’s education over to the “genius of the market” is a lousy idea

There’s more evidence today of the dangers that come with turning our children’s education over to lightly-regulated charter schools. This is from a story by Amelia Harper of the Rocky Mount Telegram entitled “Teachers at closed school left unpaid”:

Teachers at the now defunct Global Achiever School will not be able to look to the state for recourse as they wait to see if they will be paid the money owed to them.

“Just as with district schools, the state allots the funds but the entity — the local education agency or charter school — is the employer. What recourse is available to employees would be a matter of the particulars of their employment agreement with their employer and state law,” said Drew Elliot, communications director for the state Department of Public Instruction.

Global Achievers School, the second charter school to open in Nash County, opened its doors in August, lost its state charter in November and closed on Dec. 14, as required by the state. The State Board of Education voted to withdraw the school’s charter because it did not meet the minimum attendance threshold and board members were concerned about the school’s financial condition.

Teachers and staff member have been informed by the charter school board that as of now, they will not be paid for services rendered in the month of December or for the 10 percent cut that was taken from their paychecks in November in an effort to address cash flow issues.

The story goes on to explain that while the school believes it’s still entitled to some federal dollars, the basic deal is that school employees (and, of course, children and their families) are out of luck

The school also has little in the way of assets as it was renting its space and owned no buildings. Elliot said that under state law, “all net assets of the charter school purchased with public funds would go to the LEA — in this case, Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools.”

The school is not likely to have much in the way of assets as the state of North Carolina has already notified the school board that the school owes it nearly $6,000 of the $192,235 it received from the state this year. On the plus side, the school has relatively few financial obligations related to building costs.

The board members of Global Achievers School will be left to sort out the final details of the school and conduct its financial autopsy.

“The entity that previously held the charter would be responsible for winding up its financial affairs and satisfying any outstanding obligations to creditors, vendors and the like,” Elliot said.

The bottom line: It’s clear the school should have never been approved in the first place, but that’s what you get when many of the people running our public schools hold the delusional view that it’s okay to bring the market economy reality of winners and losers into the education system.

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