By the Arizona Republic Editorial Board
Twenty years ago, Arizona was on the cutting edge of school choice and the charter school movement was designed to produce specific goals for parents, students and schools. It’s time look at how it worked.
They had a record 180,000 students in the 2016-17 school year, according to the Arizona Charter Schools Association. They received more than $1 billion in public money in fiscal 2016, according to the Joint Legislative Budget Committee.
But a new report shows disturbing consequences from Arizona’s failure to demand accountability and transparency from these publicly funded operations.
The report from the Grand Canyon Institute, a centrist think tank, needs to become part of ongoing discussions about larger issue of school funding in Arizona.
Lax rules invite financial abuses
It identified practices that invite financial abuses at charter schools but are not illegal under Arizona law.
The three-year study also found that administrative salaries are higher in charter schools and teacher salaries are lower than in district public schools. In addition, classroom spending and academic performance are both lower in charters than in district schools.
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