On August 16 the state released a list of 42 groups seeking to open state-sanctioned charter schools. 19 of these groups hope to open schools in Boston in either 2011 or 2012, enrolling a total of 9523 students. KIPP Academy, for example, wants to open up an 875-student K-12 school in Boston and Excel Academy (which currently operates a charter in East Boston) wishes to open up a set of three 448-student schools. There are statutory state limitations on charter growth and expansion, but the bottom line is these folks intend to take advantage–quickly and efficiently–of the new state (so-called) Ed Reform law that will give them a substantial place in the charter school marketplace. Their increased presence will come at our expense. The organizations seeking charters are both for profit, and not-for profit, but the distinction is not all that significant, as some of the non-profits (EXCEL) hope to establish a national chain of charter school franchises. KIPP already operates a for-profit chain of 99 charter schools as a chief investment of New Profit Inc., which touts that it is a “national venture philanthropy fund that seeks to harness America’s spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship to help solve our country’s biggest social problems.” Translated, it means that KIPP is a serious player in the forefront of those venture capitalists seeking to make money in the public education business. And for them, it is a business.
Each student who attends any of these new state-sanctioned charter schools receives free tuition yearly of more than $11,000 from the Boston School Department’s budget. The expected dollar payment to Boston-based charters this upcoming year is $64 million, and it is expected to rise to $110 million within two years. That’s a lot of money that could be spent in our schools on much-needed resources. Those so-called pro-public education advocates who supported the Ed Reform Law ought to held accountable for the loss of dollars our schools will suffer.