How Charter Schools Buy Political Support

In Florida, the Miami Herald calls state ethics laws a “joke” for “failing to protect Floridians from legislators who profit from the charter-school industry in private life and have been actively involved in pushing — and successfully passing — legislation to fund for-profit private schools at the expense of public education.” The Herald names names. Representative Manny Diaz (Republican-Hialeah) serves on the Education Committee and the K-12 Appropriations Subcommittee and lobbies to loosen restrictions on charter schools. He is also the chief operating officer of the Doral College charter, part of the for-profit Academica charter school network, that pays him a salary of over $100,000 a year. Richard Corcoran (Republican-Land O’Lakes) is Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives. His wife is the founder of a charter school in Pasco County. Representative Michael Bileca (Republican-Miami) chairs the Florida House Education Committee. Bileca is executive director of a foundation that funds charter schools and a founder of one of its recipients. Diaz, Corcoran, and Bileca were leaders in a legislative effort to take millions of tax dollars away from public schools and reallocating money to fund the expansion of the charter-school industry.

Stephen Dyer, a former Ohio state legislator, describes Ohio’s charter schools as a “national embarrassment.” Ohio’s $1 billion-a-year publicly financed charter industry has been plagued by years of financial scandal and poor performance. But in 2015 when an oversight bill was about to be passed the state’s legislative branch, it was withdrawn from consideration by House speaker Cliff Rosenberger (Republican-Clarksville). Rosenberger is a major recipient of charter school campaign donations.

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