Parents of students at St. Petersburg, Florida's Windsor Prep and two related charter schools have been scrambling in recent days to find new options for their children, frantically trading notes on what their contingency plans are should their schools close. The Tampa Bay Times's story highlights the precarity of unregulated public charter schools across the country.

Public schools of all types regularly direct funds toward private businesses—like software companies, food-service distributors and textbook publishers—for specific services. But charter schools in Utah like Ascent Academy take it a step further, abdicating administrative and academic functions to private companies. Though Ascent Academy and other private charter-management companies receive millions in public education funds, they do not have to disclose how they spend their money. And any surplus funds are collected as profit rather than returned to the schools the company serves. #CashinginonKids">'>#CashinginonKids

More students drop out or fail to finish high school within four years at Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow, an online charter school based in Ohio, than at any other school in the country. But while many students may not have found success at the for-profit school, the Electronic Classroom has richly rewarded private companies affiliated with its founder, William Lager, a software executive. #CashinginonKids">'>#CashinginonKids