The Indiana Legislature is considering forgiving $12 million in loans to failed charter schools. This is a mistake that shows favoritism to charter schools over public schools.
Eight charter schools will not be reopening next fall. Seven had their charters removed by Ball State University because they weren’t performing up to state standards. The eighth elected not to stay open after receiving D’s and F’s from the Department of Education rankings.
Together they racked up $12.9 million in state loans when they got started and have only repaid $900,000. Sen. Luke Kenley, R-Noblesville, of the Senate Appropriations Committee, told The Associated Press that, in effect, having their charters revoked didn’t matter. “If (the charter schools were educating students) and it was a good faith effort and they were in good standing at the time, maybe it should be paid for them.”
All of the charter schools begin with good faith efforts, but these eight didn’t live up to state standards. In other words, they failed their students just like charter advocates say about public schools, which have to pay back loans from the state.
Kenley stepped further into the thicket by saying these start-up loans are just funding what the state should have provided for with its charter law. Except the state didn’t and loans have to be paid back.
Letting failed charter schools off the hook ensures a couple of things. One, the people who run them, not out any money, will be back to open another school, knowing they’ll have the state’s blessing because charter schools are so sacrosanct they can apparently do no wrong, according to some politicians.
Two, charter schools are getting a break that public schools don’t get because, again, charter schools are so sacrosanct they can apparently do no wrong, according to some politicians.
Three of the failed charters were run by Imagine Schools, which received $6.8 million in state loans and still owes $6.3 million. That’s quite a windfall they get to keep. And it’s a good bet that Imagine will continue pursuing charters in the state and receiving state aid and loans. If they know the state won’t make them pay back loans, why would they worry if the school fails? They’ll just take the money and open another to stay on the state gravy train with little accountability.
This is a dangerous precedent from those who seek to weaken public education. Since taxpayer money is being used to fund both charter and public schools, there has to be equal treatment under the law.
Failed charters shouldn’t get to keep loans from the state, which, if they do, turn into windfalls for the owners of the charters. This is money that could go back into the DOE loan fund or be used to help out public education. Letting businesses like Imagine Schools pocket tax money does nothing to help Indiana’s educational mission but does a lot to satisfy politicians’ ideology toward charter schools and against public schools.
Failed charters shouldn’t get to keep loans from the state, which, if they do, turn into windfalls for the owners of the charters.