Why? Why Is This A Thing?

Why is the public afforded no right to follow its public monies behind the privacy hedge of unaccountable Charter Schools?

What’s it feel like to wake up one morning and discover your school has simply closed?

I’m guessing a whole jumble of feelings vie for primacy from angry, sad, betrayed, scared, anxious, small, vulnerable, unimportant … I’m guessing there’s a huge range of PTSD symptoms, none of which encompases, critically, any feelings at all that happen to be conducive to learning: supported, encouraged, bolstered, trusted, buoyed, secure, powerful, competent.

If the high schoolers of City Charter School on Olympic Blvd in West LA weren’t so busy scrambling to enroll in a new school one month after the start of the school year, we could ask them. Because over last weekend, reportedly, or perhaps as late as Monday night for some, that community was gathered together and informed it would imminently be no more.

As the mother of teenaged high schoolers, I can testify personally to their fragility, susceptible to hormones and insecurities and a pressurized academic system at the mercy of Big Testing, High-Stakes, Big Business.

But as a veteran of some 18 years of overwrought admissions-induced panicking parents, it is worth remembering that empirically, kids command remarkable stores of resilience. Subjecting kids to a churn of insecurity will affect their immediate learning achievement, but it is the crisis of vulnerability that determines their plight as political collateral.

Expendable accessories to Education is what these kids have become.

Because for all intents and purposes, Charter schools are corporate educational entities that are not accountable to anyone, and sustain no corporate responsibility for the welfare of their constituent client-students. There is no accountability for Charter School’s finances, not for their academic integrity, not for their functionality, nor for betraying their – our – kids.

We do not know why City Charter HS closed its doors, and because it is not a public entity, we cannot compel verification that low enrollment is a precipitate. Unlike in a truly public enterprise there is no means to investigate the school’s financial jeopardy. Meeting minutes from 2015 reference ongoing enrollment and extreme financial hardship but financial data is not presented and there is no surety that these vestigial minutes will not disappear anon. There is no way to monitor the institution and its public monies for efficiency, fraud or equity.

So even as “public Charter Schools” pocket public monies privately and insist on the fallacious moniker, and even as a boardmember of this de facto private corporation campaigns for a seat on the public schoolboard he has pledged to dismantle, yet as members of the public we have no mandate to scrutinize the foundational hallmarks of nominally public Charter institutions: financials, constituency and governance.

Time and again Charters unveil what is truly pernicious about them. They are designed as entities to circumvent accountability and reassert politically unacceptable advantage. It should not be a surprise when repeatedly they are felled by hubris and disregard.

The political history of mankind is a struggle between limiting malfeasance and unleashing the human spirit. There never has been an institution public or private that does not require checks and balances, for these institutions are run by people with vested and competing interests. Until we design our schools’ top priority to be the educational interests of our students individually, and not their derivative monetary value, our children will inevitably be burdened and disserved, with the cost of their betrayal shouldered by the public, borne by each and every individual child personally.

Best of luck to the flood of City Charter students dissplaced, midyear. The good news is that our public schools are still here, still excellent (if flawed), available and open to welcome them as learners.

I apologize as a voting citizen, for unleashing on them this Charter school system which is so unaccountable to you my children, its students.