If you’re one of the too-many Pollyannas still singing the praises of school vouchers and charter schools, put your feet up and wend your way through this terrific article from the Miami New Times on the Mavericks chain of for-profit charter schools. (That’s right. A chain. Of schools. Called “Mavericks.”).
You’ll be riveted by the cast of characters. For starters, there’s Mavericks president Frank Biden—Vice President Joe Biden’s little brother, a recovering alcoholic and drunk driver who was once arrested in a Blockbuster store for trying to walk out with DVDs stuffed in his pants. Perfect role model for our children!
Then there’s the motley crew of Mavericks founders, who initially tried to combine the line of charter schools with a sports-bar chain, hiring Miami Heat star Dwyane Wade as celebrity shill for both. The partners later sued Wade after he declined to invest more bucks; he countersued; the restaurants are closed. The school chain, however, cruises on (without Wade), enrolling 3,700 students in eight schools filled with cubicles of computers and teachers who were recently paid less than $5,000 a year.
The tangled tale also involves multiple lawsuits over financial finagling, $250,000-per-school federal grants, former employees alleging fraud, a lack of school accreditation, “management fees” of $418,000, and graduation rates as low as—wait for it—4.5 percent. Ouch. Or rather, vouch.
It’s a long article. It’s worth taking the time to read, especially if you’re still harboring the delusional belief that lowlifes who can’t even run a restaurant chain would be a really good choice to run the schools that educate our kids.