One of the less-noticed elements of the new Every Student Succeeds Act is the authorization of hundreds of millions of federal tax dollars annually to support the increased growth of charter schools. Charter schools are educational providers, but they are also businesses. A large portion of them are run by private corporations, and receive taxpayer dollars to provide their services. Yet there is very little public understanding of the often-convoluted ways these companies use those dollars and take advantage of laws in ways that enrich owners, officers, and investors.
A new research brief by Bruce Baker and Gary Miron details some of the ways that individuals, companies, and organizations secure financial gain and generate profit by running charter schools, leading them to operate in ways that are sometimes at odds with the public interest. In The Business of Charter Schooling: Understanding the Policies that Charter Operators Use for Financial Benefit, they explore the differences between charters and traditional public schools, and they illustrate how charter school policies sometimes function to promote profiteering and privatization of public assets.