Nonprofit Newswire | For-Profits Managing Charter Schools—A Problem?

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May 21, 2010; Source: New York Daily News | Unless there is a big editing error in this article, its defense of charter schools in New York that are managed by for-profit companies such as Edison Schools seems to add up to an unintentional endorsement of nonprofit charter management.
By law all charter schools in New York State must be established as 501(c)(3) “nonprofit educational corporations.” Charter schools are permitted to contract with for-profits for their management. The author of this op-ed, the head of the New York Charter Schools Association, says that only 9.4 percent of the state’s charter schools (16 out of 171) contract with a for-profit manager for the 2010-2011 school year. He also says that over the last 8 years, 11 charter schools have been shut down because of their poor educational or fiscal performance, 7 of which were managed by for-profits.

That’s two-thirds of all charter schools that have been ordered to close. In past years, the proportion of charter schools that were for-profit managed was higher, as much as 40 percent in 2002. But we can’t imagine that the for-profit managed part of the state’s charter school population in any recent year ever came close to two-thirds, much less over the multi-year history of charters in New York State.

Unless the paragraph in this article was butchered into inaccuracy, it would appear that the author has inadvertently written a testimonial to the excellence of nonprofit managers in this field in his effort to defend the for-profit part of this industry.—Rick Cohen