Just the Facts, Ma’am

I sit down with Massachusetts State Auditor Suzanne Bump (which is a lot more exciting than it sounds…)

Bump

State Auditor Suzanne Bump performs an audit of her audit.

EduShyster: First of all, allow me to congratulate you. You took the top spot in a category that I like to call *most read audit by people who have never read an audit before.* I’m talking, of course, about your audit of the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), specifically, their oversight of the state’s charter schools. What did you find?

Suzanne BumpWhat we found was that DESE was using subjective standards, that there wasn’t an even application of standards when they were, say, renewing the charters of schools. We looked to try and determine whether the data they were putting out relative to student demographics was accurate, whether waitlists were accurate. This is information that guides DESE’s policy making and we found it to be unreliable because the state never verifies it. Data reliability testing is the first thing you do in auditing. You can’t reach proper conclusions if we can’t rely upon the data and we found that we couldn’t rely upon the data. That’s a warning to DESE that they shouldn’t be either.  Continue reading →

The Liftin’ O’ the Cap

The storied halls of Beacon Hill will soon be filled with little lobbyists, demanding the lifting o’ the charter school cap.

That nip o’ green in the air can only mean one thing lasses and lassies. It’s that time of year again, in which the masses rise up to demand an end to the artificial constraints on excellence and innovation, other wise known as the charter school cap. Perhaps in your state this annual celebration of obfuscation wears a different label—the Texan tip’ o’ the 10 gallon? The NYC fedora lift? Here in Massachusetts we call it simply ‘The Liftin’ O’ the Cap.’  So reader, pour yourself a glass of the strong stuff and settle in as I share with ye a fanciful tale indeed. Continue reading →