Hundreds of new charter schools will open this year—clear evidence of the growing momentum behind the charter school movement. But it’s worth noting that today’s support for charters didn’t just happen. It was bought and paid for.
That’s the contention of “Money Talks,” a package of articles in February’s American School Board Journal by Senior Editor Del Stover details an often-overlooked political reality: Advocates for charter schools have poured millions of dollars in private funds to sell the idea of charters to state and federal policymakers, as well as the general public.
With its pages, ASBJ offers up a brief glimpse of how this money is influencing education policymaking today. For example:
- An Ohio for-profit operator of charter schools donates approximately $4 million over a decade to state politicians—and convinces legislators to introduce controversial legislation on behalf of the charter school industry.
- The Walton Foundation awards nearly $75 million in school choice and charter-related grants, providing “venture capital” that helps hundreds of charter schools open and supporting the advocacy efforts of state charter school groups.
- Advocacy groups in Wisconsin spent thousands on ads and fliers against candidates opposed to school choice and charters. These ads blame candidates for a variety of wrongdoing—but never actually talk of charter schools or education in general.
As ASBJ makes clear, it’s important for school board members to understand that this money is being spent—because, in politics, money talks.
And since up-to-date information and insight is a public servant’s best weapon, read the companion piece from respected planning consultant, Kelley Carey, on how to address charter school growth before it happens.
Read these features and more in the latest issue of ASBJ.