by Max Brantley
The Dallas Morning News has been doing a series of articles on charter schools, the last one here. It's a pro/con project. But today's is worth a read — about nepotism in charter schools. It happens in conventional public schools, too. I do think the watchdogging will be harder when the conventional districts are carved up — as charter backers hope — into dozens, if not hundreds, of what are essentially independent school districts. From the most recent Dallas article (it includes links to earlier articles):
Focus Learning Academy, a charter school tucked in a strip mall in Dallas' Red Bird area, takes pride in teaching students with learning disabilities. For founder and Superintendent Leroy McClure, whose brother struggled with a learning disability, it's a personal mission.
McClure earns $146,000 to run the school of about 700 students, about $50,000 more than the typical superintendent of a traditional Texas school district that size.
In addition, McClure's wife, Yvette, receives $100,000 from the school for consulting work and sits on the school board. His brother serves as Focus Academy's facilities manager, and his sister is a teacher there.
The hope is that grass-roots nonprofit groups can create niche public schools that provide new and exciting educational choices for parents and students. And many have.
The fear is that the freedoms granted to charter schools allow hefty salaries, nepotism and potential abuse of the public's money.
UPDATE: Local note. A Conway reader says Leroy McClure is a 1978 graduate of Conway High School and his brother followed him a year later. He made a stab at establishing a school in Conway some years back, reader says.