Articles are available for reprint as long as the author is acknowledged: Domenick J. Maglio Ph.D.

Wednesday, February 04, 2015


By Domenick J. Maglio Ph.D. Traditional Realist

Many charter schools advertise themselves as “Private, Public Schools.”  This branding is at best misleading or an outright deception. All of the money they use to finance these charter schools comes from public school tax money.  The amount of funding they receive differs from state to state.  They are publicly funded but privately run.

“School privatization is another confusing term that refers to establishing public charter schools through state legislation in the United States. The use of public money to hire private companies is the language of outsourcing government responsibilities. Again these often-large speculative companies are not using their own money to operate rather the tax money of the people.

Charter schools were founded in 1992 in Minneapolis and have expanded throughout the USA. Most of these schools are smaller than current public schools.
They can be brick and mortar schools or virtual schools. There are great variations in effectiveness. Some are high performing and others are mired in horror stories of providing inflated grades but producing poor standardized test results, college admission and retention.

The public school establishment argues that charter schools are siphoning off school funds that negatively affect the quality of public schools. They fail to state the charter schools are given approximately 80% of what an average public school student receives, which means 20% of the funds remain with the district. They say the unsavory relationship between state legislators and private companies has led to waste, corruption and fraud.  The public school proponents note that thousands of dollars are donated to state representative’s campaigns from these private companies seeking favorable laws for charter schools. They point to a lack of oversight and regulations leading to millions of dollars being embezzled from taxpayers.

The CEOs of some of these private companies refuse to release their exorbitant salaries.  Dollars are taken for services that are not provided by the charter school. These companies often transfer public money that was given in one state to use in another state to start a different enterprise. The disbursement of public funds for personal use has been another recurring issue. Government has a poor record of monitoring and regulating its public services and charter schools seem to be more readily falling through the cracks.

These private companies use public money as their cash cow.  They can purchase  privately owned buildings, and charge the state an outrageous price.  Some pay family members huge salaries for questionable services, which is forcing many charter schools to run at a loss. These financially questionable practices are causing some to even close their doors leaving the students and parents in disarray. 

The academic inadequacies or the fiscally mismanaged charter school’s demise does not usually devastate the private company. They use public school money, not their own.  Unless they are prosecuted for breaking a law they can walk away without losing a dime of their own money.  Often they can reapply and obtain another charter school in the same community or move to another state to start this process over again.

For profit private school owners are totally different from charter school CEOs since their investment in their private school business belongs only to them. Their money is generated by tuition paid by parents, not taken from the public coffers. They are self-sufficient business people that pay taxes to the local community. These schools have the autonomy and flexibility to provide unique educational opportunities for many students.

The students and their parents are the customers. Parents and thus their children are invested in the school as they have “skin in the game.” When a significant number of dissatisfied families leave, the school makes necessary changes or goes out of business.  When their constituents love the school, it thrives. 

Private schools do not cost but instead save the public money.  They provide educational services that are free to the state and require no public money. According to studies, most provide quality education.

The state and federal government tax any revenue and financial transactions of the private school. Any loss incurred by the business directly affects the owner’s assets not anyone else’s. These entrepreneurs are willing to compete with “free” public education, which indicates a mission of caring rather than one of money.

Private schools are a win-win for the state and its citizens because they take students off the public school roll plus provide taxes for the state without draining any public funds. 

Domenick Maglio, PhD. is a columnist carried by various newspapers, an author of several books and owner/director of Wider Horizons School, a college prep program. You can visit Dr. Maglio at

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