Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI-13) introduced a bill last week that she says will promote the “same type of accountability from charter schools nationwide that the law requires of traditional public schools.”
In introducing her “landmark” Charter Oversight, Accountability, and Transparency (COAT) Act, the freshman congresswoman said there is “currently a lack of oversight mechanisms for failing charter schools.”
Tlaib criticized Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos for pushing for charter school expansion in Michigan and turning a “blind eye to their failures.”
“For too long for-profit charters have operated without accountability under a for-profit loving Secretary of Education that has been all too happy to turn a blind eye to their failures,” she said in a statement. “Without the necessary oversight for charter schools, our children will continue to suffer while taxpayers will be caught holding the bill for charter school waste and abuse. The COAT Act will provide that oversight and ensure our students have a fighting chance at educational success, a key component of economic success.”
Her bill would require private charter management organizations, called PCMOs, to disclose the dollar amount and percentage breakdown of “money being used by the PCMO on the operations of the school and on the operations of the PCMO.”
They would also be required to disclose the dollar amount every executive is earning in salary from a PCMO, the identities of any company or organization the PCMO has financial ties to, and whether the PCMO is for-profit or non-profit.
Failure to disclose this information to the Department of Education would result in losing federal funds from the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.
Her bill is cosponsored by 34 Democratic representatives, including Reps. Debbie Dingell (D-MI-12), Haley Stevens (D-MI-11) and Elissa Slotkin (D-MI-08).
Tlaib’s office said the bill was endorsed by several national and local teachers unions, including the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association.
“Although charters are not a monolith and some meet the potential they promised, the horror stories of charter school fraud, waste and abuse have cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars,” said Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers. “The lack of accountability hurts students and siphons money from public schools. The promise we make in this country is to educate every child equitably, regardless of geography or demography. To do that, we must ensure that every school has the tools and resources it needs to actually help students succeed.”
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Anthony Gockowski is managing editor of The Minnesota Sun and The Ohio Star. Follow Anthony on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “Rashida Tlaib” by Rashida Tlaib.