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rotten apple

The Florida charter school taken over by Church of Scientology-related management that pushed teachers to use L. Ron Hubbard-designed teaching methods is in some trouble following the Tampa Bay Times expose of its practices. Initially, the fact that the charter school was in bankruptcy was protecting it from being shut down. But now educational authorities may have found a way to do so, with changes to its charter sought by the school opening up the possibility of terminating it instead.  

The school's curriculum, [Pinellas County schools superintendent John] Stewart notes, was changed "without permission" from district officials. He adds that the school also has been operating under an unauthorized new name, the SMART Academy, since last month.  
It's good to know that educational authorities aren't happy about the use of public funding to introduce school kids to Scientology, or about the teachers being paid $85 a day without benefits or contracts, or about the kids being made to scrub bathrooms, or about the tens of thousands of dollars going from a bankrupt school to the private management company introducing Scientology into the curriculum. But it's important to remember that while this is an extreme case, several of these patterns characterize charter schools more broadly—management companies raking in huge amounts of public money that's designated to educate kids, low pay and unstable jobs for teachers, questionable curriculum.

As Jake McIntyre wrote about this case, "As long as there is a mad push to privatize our public schools, there will be charlatans and frauds waiting to cash in and grab a cut of that sweet, sweet taxpayer-funded pie." And the nature of that mad push is that there is too little oversight of those charlatans and frauds. The fact that this level of abuse is what it takes to get a school shut down—and that it's still so difficult to do—demonstrates that perfectly.

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