What are the true costs of charter schools?

Are they really free, as all their literature and supporters proudly proclaim?

Some people will point to the funding a school receives and claim that is the entire cost of a charter school to a community. They then compare the cost of maintaining the existing public system versus the cost of discarding what we’ve built and starting over from scratch. The truth is, there are many costs to communities and children that are hard to quantify precisely. That does not mean those costs don’t exist. The messaging of charter schools is very complex and amorphous, and it changes depending upon whom they are talking to. Charter schools try to be all things to all people . . . except their true natures. The truth is, charter schools are not “free” schools. They are not “free” private schools. They are private but they are not free. These schools cost taxpayers and communities quite a deal, but everyone likes to get something for nothing and oxymoronically, free sells.

However, not everyone is buying what they are giving away for free. In Baton Rouge, despite years of assaults on public schools by local businessman and construction mogul Lane Grigsby, the Baton Rouge Chamber of Commerce, New Schools for Baton Rouge and Stand for Children, parents are still choosing to bus their children clear across the parish rather than send their kids to these “free” charter schools. It has gotten so bad that some schools, like Inspire Academy run by National Heritage Academies, is literally trying to bribe parents and their neighbors with gift cards to convince kids to try out their schools.


50 dollars for a referral might not sound like a lot, but that could buy enough uniforms in used condition to get through a school year. For people living in poverty, every little bit counts. Imagine if you had 3 or 4 kids. . .those cards could really come in handy around Christmas time. From the charter’s perspective, all they need to do is get the kids to stay through October and they get 10,000 dollars in MFP funds. If the kids don’t like the school, they can always transfer to the regular public school system, but those dollars don’t transfer with them. Those dollars that supported their “free” charter school stay with the charter. But the traditional public school has to stretch their funds to support anyone, which means less dollars and resources for kids who didn’t start out in a charter school. That “choice” impacts our choices.

The “free” gift card is funded by tax payer dollars. It was not free to us. The 10 grand that the charter school gets per child also comes from our dollars that was meant to fund our public schools, public schools that don’t pay families with gift cards to attend them; public schools which are being intentionally forced into bankruptcy, by charter schools and their supporters.

Does this matter to our political leaders like BESE President Chas Roemer and his sister, Caroline Shirley Roemer executive director of the Louisiana Charter Association?

BESE approved Willow Charter Academy in Lafayette, over the objections of the local school board. Willow Charter Academy is a NHA school and another NHA is under construction in Lafayette. In Baton Rouge we have Inspire Academy and in Baker we have Advantage Charter School. BESE, under Chas Roemer and his sister like to hand out free money. I guess it makes them feel popular. Do you still think charter schools are free? I guess it doesn’t matter. By all means try out the “free” charter school and collect your “free” gift card. I’m buying.


And don’t forget to Tell Your Friends!


10 thoughts on “Charter schools are now paying kids to try them out

  1. When Paul Pastorek crammed charters into Caddo Parish, Caddo had 2 empty buildings that they had to reopen as schools because the parents would not send their kids to the charters. Yes, it’s been happening in EBR, much the same way. Take a look at the RSD school closures the past 2 years – 26 and all D’s and F’s but 1. A few were charters and some were charters that couldn’t cut it and became state run.

    There are 52 RSD schools still open. 28 of those are D. F, or T with the four T schools’ scores falling into the D (1) and F(3) range. I think that comes out to 24 “successful” charters in the RSD – and 4 of those were D or F in 2013.

    The state has admitted that they don’t know how to run schools, that they are getting out of the business … by turning them over to the charter groups that can only show the obvious success of 20 out of 78 over the past 2 years. Many of the federal grants dollars available are funneled into these RSD charters, sometimes illegally (ask Jacob Landry brewmeister, poultry specialist, and special assistant to Paul Pasterek), so it’s costing much more than MFP and locally generated funds.

    The school takeover experiment in Louisiana has failed. But the “high end” charters, like the ones you mention in this blog are still blowin’ and goin’.

    About 2 weeks ago, we were supposed to get a ruling from a district judge concerning a case where LAE had sued over MFP dollars going to charters. I haven’t seen anything on the topic. What’s up?

    Vote wisely in your local runoffs. Vote wisely in a year for all of the state offices – we need to clean out the scum from the legislature and whorehouse BESE board.

  2. and if the LDoE is getting out of the “running schools” business because they obviously don’t know how to run schools and never will, why is it schools/districts are expected to heed the advise/directives/mandates of the LDoE?

    1. Of course. None of the mandates from LDOE or the USDOE are based in sound research or data. These are ideas that line the pocketbooks of people who donate to the various uninformed politicians of the moment. (Democrats and Republicans)

  3. Charter school marketing tactics…..UGH!

    I was wondering the same thing bout the MFP lawsuit. Do you have any info that, Jason?

  4. Iberville was first, but there was a second one filed by the Louisiana Association of Educators. It was announced that the judge would make his decision known on a Friday (last week or the week before), and then The Advocate said it would be the following Monday. I, several days ago, checked with folks “close to the plaintiff” and they indicated nothing had been released.

  5. I don’t know all the legalese but WRKF said the judge announced today that he wouldn’t stop the payments to charters before heard the case – or something along those lines.

    1. It will be appealed by both sides, regardless, and if if the judge were to decide in the districts favors the consequences would be stayed until the appesls process played out. I wouldn’t expect anything significant for a year or so unless the courts agree to expedite/fast track the case.

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