Charter Schools and The Profit Motive

SchoolClassroomSubmitted by Elaine Magliaro, Guest Blogger

In a 2010 New York Times article titled Charter Schools’ New Cheerleaders: Financiers, reporters Tripp Gabriel and Jennifer Medina wrote the following about what was going on in the state of New York:

Wall Street has always put its money where its interests and beliefs lie. But it is far less common that so many financial heavyweights would adopt a social cause like charter schools and advance it with a laserlike focus in the political realm…

Although the April 9 breakfast with Mr. Cuomo was not a formal fund-raiser, the hedge fund managers have been wielding their money to influence educational policy in Albany, particularly among Democrats, who control both the Senate and the Assembly but have historically been aligned with the teachers unions.

They[hedge fund managers] have been contributing generously to lawmakers in hopes of creating a friendlier climate for charter schools. More immediately, they have raised a multimillion-dollar war chest to lobby this month for a bill to raise the maximum number of charter schools statewide to 460 from 200.

That same year—2010—Juan Gonzalez believed that he had uncovered one of the reasons why hedge fund managers, some wealthy Americans, and the executives of some Wall Street banks had become such big proponents of charter schools and had gotten involved in their development. Gonzalez said the banks and other wealthy investors had been making “windfall profits” by taking advantage of “a little-known federal tax break to finance new charter-school construction.” That little know tax break, the New Markets Tax Credit, can be so lucrative, Gonzalez said, “that a lender who uses it can almost double his money in seven years.” He added that the tax break “gives an enormous federal tax credit to banks and equity funds that invest in community projects in underserved communities, and it’s been used heavily now for the last several years for charter schools.”

Gonzalez focused his research on the city of Albany—which, he wrote, “boasts the state’s highest percentage of charter school enrollments.” He provided an explanation of how lucrative investments in building new charter schools can be:

What happens is the investors who put up the money to build charter schools get to basically or virtually double their money in seven years through a thirty-nine percent tax credit from the federal government. In addition, this is a tax credit on money that they’re lending, so they’re also collecting interest on the loans as well as getting the thirty-nine percent tax credit. They piggy-back the tax credit on other kinds of federal tax credits like historic preservation or job creation or brownfields credits.

The result is, you can put in ten million dollars and in seven years double your money. The problem is, that the charter schools end up paying in rents, the debt service on these loans and so now, a lot of the charter schools in Albany are straining paying their debt service–their rent has gone up from $170,000 to $500,000 in a year or–huge increases in their rents as they strain to pay off these loans, these construction loans. The rents are eating-up huge portions of their total cost. And, of course, the money is coming from the state.

Brighter Choice Foundation

According to Gonzalez, “a nonprofit called the Brighter Choice Foundation had employed the New Markets Tax Credit to arrange private financing for five of the city’s nine charter schools.” By 2010, many of those charter schools were struggling to pay escalating rents, which were “going toward the debt service that Brighter Choice incurred during construction.”

Gonzalez gave examples of the escalating rents:

The Henry Johnson Charter School saw the rent for its 31,000-square-foot building skyrocket from $170,000 in 2008 to $560,000 in 2009.

The Albany Community School‘s went from from $195,000 to $350,000.

Green Tech High Charter School rent rose from $443,000 to $487,000.

Gonzalez reported that a number of Albany’s charter schools have fallen into debt to the Brighter Choice Foundation. He wondered why the schools’ financial problems hadn’t raised eyebrows with state regulators or caused concern for the charters’ school boards. He noted that the powerful charter school lobby had “so far successfully battled to prevent independent government audits of how its schools spend their state aid.” He added that “key officers of Albany’s charter school boards are themselves board members, employees or former employees of the Brighter Choice Foundation or its affiliates.”

Gonzalez said that the city of Albany is “exhibit A in the web of potential conflicts that keep popping up in the charter school movement.” It appears Gonzalez is correct about Albany being just one example of what’s going on in the movement. Brighter Horizons isn’t the only “foundation” or company making profits off of charter schools.

Imagine Schools Inc.

There is a national charter school company called Imagine Schools Inc., one of the biggest for-profit charter school management companies in the country. Matthew Haag of the Dallas Morning News wrote about Imagine Schools in 2008:

A national charter school company that plans to open new schools in Texas, including one in McKinney, has run afoul of an education official in Nevada and two of its former principals, and they all pose the same question.

Does Imagine Schools Inc. force its charter schools to spend too much money on complex real estate deals and not enough money on teachers and academic programs?

Virginia-based Imagine Schools has emerged as one of the largest for-profit charter school management companies, running several dozen schools in 12 states. It plans to open Imagine International Academy of North Texas in McKinney next year.

Charter schools house their students in Texas in a variety of ways, according to the former Charter Resource Center of Texas, from renting space in a shopping center to doing complex property transactions such as Imagine’s.

Typically, after an Imagine-managed charter school gets approval to open, Schoolhouse Finance, Imagine’s real estate arm, purchases a campus and charges the school rent. After the school begins to pay that rent, Schoolhouse sells the campus to a real estate investment trust, which then leases it back to Schoolhouse.

The charter school eventually sends rent payments – in one case upward of 40 percent of the school’s entire publicly funded budget – to two for-profit companies.

“The arrangement is very lucrative because it’s a direct conduit to public funds. The school [property] is paid off with public funds,” said Gary Horton, who oversees charter school funding for the Nevada Department of Education. Nevada’s charter schools include Imagine’s 100 Academy of Excellence in North Las Vegas.

Haag added that charter schools in Texas are generally exempt from the kind of financial oversight that “state education officials give school districts. The agency annually grades how school districts spend their money, but not yet for charters.”

Haag explained what happened with 100 Academy of Excellence in Nevada:

In Nevada, the state awarded 100 Academy of Excellence in North Las Vegas a charter, and the school hired Imagine to run its educational services. Schoolhouse Finance, the Imagine subsidiary, paid for the school’s property and building construction. Schoolhouse Finance then leased the property to the charter school for $1.4 million a year.

Next, Schoolhouse Finance sold the $8 million property to a real estate investment trust, Kansas City, Mo.,-based Entertainment Properties Trust. The trust then leased the property back to Schoolhouse Finance at a lower rate than the charter school pays.

Money remaining after Schoolhouse Finance pays its lease to the trust goes to Imagine Schools Inc. This tiered lease system has led to 10 percent returns on investment for owners and investors in the two companies, Sharp said.

But 100 Academy of Excellence’s annual rent, which represents 40 percent of its annual state-funded budget, leaves the school struggling to pay for textbooks, according to Nevada Department of Education records.

“My concern is that I have to make payments [to the charter school], and I know the payments aren’t going to the kids,” said Horton, a persistent critic of Imagine’s operations.

Stephanie Strom reported in the New York Times in 2010 that soon after 100 Academy of Excellence opened in 2006, the school board began documenting problems. Its bookkeeping practices were lax and it lacked a sufficient number of licensed teachers. The school had also violated regulations requiring competitive bidding when it paid Imagine “for necessities like furniture and computers.”

Strom added that the school had had three principals in four years. She said that two of the principals had been “pressured to resign after complaining that there was not enough money for essentials like textbooks and a school nurse.”

In addition, Strom reported that regulators in a number of states had found that Imagine Schools had “elbowed the charter holders out of virtually all school decision making — hiring and firing principals and staff members, controlling and profiting from school real estate, and retaining fees under contracts that often guarantee Imagine’s management in perpetuity.”

The regulators claimed that Imagine’s arrangements allowed it to use “public money with little oversight.” Marc Dean Millot, a former president of the National Charter Schools Alliance, said, “Under either charter law or traditional nonprofit law, there really is no way an entity should end up on both sides of business transactions.” He added, “Imagine works to dominate the board of the charter holder, and then it does a deal with the board it dominates — and that cannot be an arm’s length transaction.”

White Hat Management

In a 2011 Pro-Publica article titled Charter Schools Outsource Education to Management Firms, With Mixed Results, Sharona Coutts wrote about charter schools run by White Hat Management in Ohio:

Since 2008, an Ohio-based company, White Hat Management, has collected around $230 million to run charter schools in that state. The company has grown into a national chain and reports that it has about 20,000 students across the country. But now 10 of its own schools and the state of Ohio are suing, complaining that many White Hat students are failing, and that the company has refused to account for how it has spent the money.

The dispute between White Hat and Ohio, which is unfolding in state court in Franklin County, provides a glimpse at a larger trend: the growing role of private management companies in publicly funded charter schools.

Coutt reported that about one third of the charter schools in this country are now run by management companies, which can be either for-profit or non-profit, and not run locally. These companies not only have the right to hire and fire staff—they can also develop curricula and discipline students. She added that while the “shortcomings of traditional public schools” have been under scrutiny in recent years—“a look at the private sector’s efforts to run schools in Ohio, Florida and New York shows that turning things over to a company has created its own set of problems for public schools.” She said that government data on charter schools suggest that those with “for-profit managers have somewhat worse academic results than charters without management companies, and a number of boards have clashed with managers over a lack of transparency in how they are using public funds.”

The Ohio Department of Education joined the lawsuit in the fall of 2010. It asked the court to help the “group of public schools break free from dominance by private interests.” The department argued in a court motion that things had not gone well under White Hat’s management. It said, “Most of the schools have received the equivalent of D’s and F’s on their State report cards and their performance has declined during the term of the agreements.”

James D. Colner, an attorney representing the schools, said, “A big part of the argument here is being able to follow the money. We have no idea whether they’re earning a reasonable profit or not. We have no idea whether the money is being efficiently or effectively spent for our students.” That should be of great concern to citizens of Ohio. Coutt contends that oversight of the industry has lagged. She added that it has resulted “in a patchwork of state and district regulation, which experts say is failing to safeguard the interests of children and taxpayers.”


Laura Clawson (Daily Kos):

In short, education reform is a good cause. Experimentation is good — and some of the best charter schools today have experimented in what could be valuable ways. But the push, coming from Wall Street and the extremely wealthy, for this specific form of charter schools, for this specific way of funding them, is part of both short-term and long-term drives for profit that will accrue to the wealthiest while weakening the middle class. The question is not whether we should back away from the cause of education, or the cause of education reform. The question is in whose interests it should be done and who should most strongly influence the outcomes.


Juan Gonzalez: Big Banks Making a Bundle on New Construction as Schools Bear the Cost (Democracy Now!)

Albany charter cash cow: Big banks making a bundle on new construction as schools bear the cost (New York Daily News)

Show us the money: “Master Class” for private equity investors in public education (Parents across America)

“New market tax credits” and charter schools (Parents across America)

Cashing in on the charters: Petrino DiLeo exposes a new attempt by Wall Street to make money off our schools (Socialist Worker)

Charter school company with plans for McKinney is criticized (Susan Ohanian)

The big business of charter schools (Washington Post)

Evil Ed, inc: the Wall Street-charter school connection (Open Left)

Corporations Advise School Closings, While Private Charters Suck Public Schools Away: As charter proponents aim to cash in on major investment returns, Philly braces for a massive schools shakeup.  (AlterNet)

Charter Schools’ New Cheerleaders: Financiers (New York Times)

For School Company, Issues of Money and Control (New York Times)

Charter Schools Outsource Education to Management Firms, With Mixed Results (Pro Publica)

Education: follow the money (Daily Kos)

Wall Street Hearts Charter Schools, Gets Rich Off Them (FireDogLake)

Wall Street Behind Charter School Push (Huffington Post)

123 thoughts on “Charter Schools and The Profit Motive

  1. Great research Elaine. I am in principle supportive of charter schools but this information you have revealed is quite distressing to the cause. It shouldn’t be so much about the money, it should be about improving the education.

  2. Nicely done, Elaine. A lil’ digging in the dirt and you showed some really filthy worms in profit, er, education reform.

  3. Darren,

    I find it distressing too. I agree that school reform should be about improving education and not about making money for investors. This is an important part of the charter school movement story that we rarely hear discussed in the MSM.

  4. Elaine,

    No, I didn’t. I don’t think I’ve watched Maher since he had Harlan Ellison on “Politically Incorrect” and then I was only watching to see Harlan.😉

  5. Disaster Capitalists… See a problem and their solution is about how THEY can profit from THEIR solutions. If people suffer or, as is the case with charter schools, the children suffer, so be it… They have their money and THATS what matters to them.

  6. That same year—2010—Juan Gonzalez believed that he had uncovered one of the reasons why hedge fund managers, some wealthy Americans, and the executives of some Wall Street banks had become such big proponents of charter schools and had gotten involved in their development. Gonzalez said the banks and other wealthy investors had been making “windfall profits” by taking advantage of “a little-known federal tax break to finance new charter-school construction.” That little know tax break, the New Markets Tax Credit, can be so lucrative, Gonzalez said, “that a lender who uses it can almost double his money in seven years.” He added that the tax break “gives an enormous federal tax credit to banks and equity funds that invest in community projects in underserved communities, and it’s been used heavily now for the last several years for charter schools.”

    Sounds like a related party transaction. If you figure it out, they fire you.

  7. The new U.S. visa rush: Build a charter school, get a green card
    By Stephanie Simon
    Fri Oct 12, 2012

    (Reuters) – It’s been a turbulent period for charter schools in the United States, with financial analysts raising concerns about their stability and regulators in several states shutting down schools for poor performance.

    The volatility has made it tough for startup schools to get financing.

    But an unlikely source of new capital has emerged to fill the gap: foreign investors.

    Wealthy individuals from as far away as China, Nigeria, Russia and Australia are spending tens of millions of dollars to build classrooms, libraries, basketball courts and science labs for American charter schools.

    In Buffalo, New York, foreign funds paid for the Health Sciences Charter School to renovate a 19th-century orphanage into modern classrooms and computer labs. In Florence, Arizona, overseas investment is expected to finance a sixth campus for the booming chain of American Leadership Academy charter schools.

    And in Florida, state business development officials say foreign investment in charter schools is poised to triple next year, to $90 million.

    The reason? Under a federal program known as EB-5, wealthy foreigners can in effect buy U.S. immigration visas for themselves and their families by investing at least $500,000 in certain development projects. In the past two decades, much of the investment has gone into commercial real-estate projects, like luxury hotels, ski resorts and even gas stations.

    Lately, however, enterprising brokers have seen a golden opportunity to match cash-starved charter schools with cash-flush foreigners in investment deals that benefit both.

    “The demand is massive – massive – on the school side,” said Greg Wing, an investment advisor. “On the investor side, it’s massive, too.”

    Two years ago, Wing set up a venture called the Education Fund of America specifically to connect international investors with charter schools. He is currently arranging EB-5 funding for 11 schools across North Carolina, Utah and Arizona and says he has four more deals in the works.

    And that’s just the start, Wing says: “It’s going to be explosive.”

  8. Academica: Florida’s richest charter school management firm
    Academica has become Florida’s largest and richest charter-school management company, running more than 60 schools just in Miami-Dade and Broward counties.

    PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas On a sun-drenched weekend in September, a group of South Florida charter school principals jetted off to a leadership retreat at The Cove, an exclusive enclave of the Atlantis resort. A Friday morning meeting gave way to champagne flutes, a dip in the pool and a trip down a waterslide. The evening ended at the casino.

    Leading the toast by the pool: Fernando Zulueta, the CEO of Academica Corp., which manages the principals’ schools.

    Zulueta had reason to cheer. During the past 15 years, Zulueta and his brother, Ignacio, have built Academica into Florida’s largest and richest for-profit charter school management company, and one of the largest in the country. In Miami-Dade and Broward counties, Academica runs more than 60 schools with $158 million in total annual revenue and more than 20,000 students — more pupils than 38 Florida school districts, records show.

    Academica’s schools consistently get high marks for academic achievement, with some schools earning national recognition. Mater Academy Charter High in Hialeah Gardens is considered among the nation’s best high schools by U.S. News & World Report, and recently won the College Board Inspiration Award.

    And despite recent cuts in state funding for public and charter schools, Academica’s schools have prospered financially: One of its chains of nonprofit schools has assets of more than $36 million, the company says.

    Academica’s achievements have been profitable. The South Miami company receives more than $9 million a year in management fees just from its South Florida charter schools — fees that ultimately come from public tax dollars.

  9. Yarbrough: Charter schools may be boondoggles
    March 13, 2012
    Athens Banner-Herald

    One more time, let me go over my concerns about the charter school constitutional amendment bill in the state Senate. I don’t have a problem with charter schools. My problem is that nobody seems to be talking about for-profit charter schools.

    Call me cynical, but you have to wonder at the enthusiasm of legislators for charter schools, even as they continue to cut public school budgets and furlough teachers.

    And, there’s the Georgia Department of Education report saying that charter schools don’t perform as well as traditional public schools and their graduation rates are no better.

    Legislators have gotten downright threatening with reluctant colleagues about charter schools. But if charter school performance isn’t better than their public-school cousins, why the urgency?

    A sharp-eyed reader suggested I might want to see what’s happening in Florida with their charter schools, and I think I’ve broken the code. It’s not about the kids. It’s about money and politics and influence-peddling. Now, things are beginning to make sense.

    The Miami Herald did an in-depth study on charter school operations in Florida in December. There, charter schools are a $400 million business that has turned into one of the region’s fastest-growing industries, “backed by real-estate developers and promoted by politicians” and “rife with insider deals and potential conflicts of interest.”

    The Herald says Florida lawmakers have chipped away at local school districts’ ability to monitor the activities of charter school managers until they are virtually without any government oversight, even though the state donates $6,000 in taxpayer dollars for every student enrolled.

  10. Herald investigation into charter school: cozy connections = taxpayer paid profits
    The Miami Herald

    Cozy political connections, favorable tax treatment and little public oversight has allowed Miami charter school chain Academica to exploit Florida’s laws, build a successful chain of schools, and profit off taxpayer dollars, a Miami Herald investigation has found.

    Charter schools have grown into a $400-million-a-year business in South Florida, receiving about $6,000 in taxpayer dollars for every student enrolled but even when charter schools have been caught violating state laws, school districts have few tools to demand compliance…


    * The South Miami company receives more than $9 million a year in management fees just from its South Florida charter schools — fees that ultimately come from public tax dollars.

    * More than two dozen other companies are controlled Fernando and Ignacio Zulueta, including more than $115 million in South Florida real estate — all exempt from property taxes as public schools — and act as landlords for many of Academica’s signature schools, records show.

    * These companies collected about $19 million in lease payments last year from charter schools — with nine schools paying rents exceeding 20 percent of their revenue, records show.

    * When the board of Doral Academy selected state Sen. Anitere Flores to run a new college proposed by the charter school network, she was sponsoring a bill in the Legislature to create online virtual charter schools, a new school model expected to dramatically expand the charter school industry. Since the proposal passed, Academica has applied for 19 virtual charters — including two with Doral Academy, state records show. More here.

    * Rep. Erik Fresen, a Miami Republican, is the brother-in-law of Fernando Zulueta, Academica’s CEO and is a former Academica lobbyist. He now earns $150,000 a year as a land-use consultant for Civica, a Doral architectural firm that has built several schools run by Academica — including schools on land controlled by the Zulueta brothers.

  11. Cashing In On Kids: Investigations Raise Questions About Florida Charter Schools
    DECEMBER 15, 2011

    New investigations by the Miami Herald and StateImpact Florida raise serious concerns about Florida’s charter schools – including who’s profiting from them, and whether they are serving kids with severe disabilities.

    That’s the topic of a one-hour radio special, “Cashing in on Kids,” by WLRN/Miami Herald News in conjunction with StateImpact Florida and WUSF Public Media.

    Both stations aired the program at 2 p.m. Thursday (a first time this has happened in recent memory) and there was a great response from callers and followers on Twitter.

    Two callers said they were parents of kids with disabilities who had seen charter schools rejecting students with special needs themselves.

    StateImpact Florida reporters Sarah Gonzalez and John O’Connor talked about the main finding of their three-month investigation: that 86 percent of Florida’s charter schools do not serve a single child with a severe disability.

    And Miami Herald reporters Kathleen McGrory and Scott Hiaasen recapped some of their major findings, including:

    – State lawmakers who profit from the charter school industry and then vote on these issues

    – A former state lawmaker who was secretly paid $5,000 a month as he voted on charter schools

    – Conflicts of interest where charter school management companies are profiting by leasing property and equipment back to themselves

  12. Florida’s shameful situation on charter schools
    Published: October 30, 2012

    Plaudits are raining down on Gov. Rick Scott over his new education agenda, unveiled just last week. One of his top priorities is the expansion of charter schools in the name of parental choice.

    In light of the outrage over a scandalous payment to one Orange County principal of a failed charter school, Scott should order an investigation into the compensation packages awarded by for-profit companies to charter school employees to ensure taxpayer money is not enriching a few while public schools suffer. And the Legislature should take another look at the laws governing charters and the expenditure of public money.

    The principal in question not only received a $519,000 severance check, but she took home her $305,000 annual salary for a grand total of $824,000 during the 2010-2011 school year. The Orlando Sentinel also reported last week the school only spent $366,000 on teacher salaries and instruction during that school year. Nothing can justify that imbalance, especially for the leader of a charter that failed.

    Public school district superintendents don’t even make that kind of unconcionalble salary. School boards would face public rage for even proposing such pay.

    In mid-October, the governor ordered a review of the compensation awarded to the 28 presidents in the state college system after trustees at one agreed to a $1.2 million severance package with the school’s departing chief. Charter schools deserve even sharper scrutiny.

    But this is just one example of a twisted system that fails taxpayers miserably.

    Charters are operated independently of school districts by public or private entities, including out-of-state corporations and for-profit companies. Education companies are gaining power in Tallahassee with a governor and Republican-dominated Legislature friendly to their cause.

  13. Parents Say S. Fla. Charter School Doubles As Nightclub
    September 2, 2011

    MIAMI (CBS4) – The attorney for a Miami-Dade charter school is promising a thorough investigation after complaints that the school has turned into a nightclub on weekends with wild, alcohol-involved parties.

    One such party from Saturday, August 6th titled “Lexus Dave Video Bash” is featured on YouTube and shows young men and women at the festive event. The address of that party is listed as the same location as the Balere Language Academy at 10875 Quail Roost Drive, a school for children from kindergarten through 8th grade.

    Neighbors complained to the Miami-Dade school district that this was one of two such parties at the school last month.

    Two flyers promote another party that is scheduled for Saturday, September 3rd.

    One flyer shows a woman in a bikini with champagne bottles. Another shows a bikini-clad woman in a suggestive pose by a smiling man wearing expensive jewelry and sitting by a pile of cash.

    “Actually everything bothers me about it, “ said neighbor Albert Figueroa. ”It’s completely wrong. The situation here in this neighborhood is getting worse by the day. I am very concerned about it. I would like to see the police investigate.”

    “I’d pretty much like to see it not happening at all,” said neighbor Felix Guzman. “My concern is that they’re having a party in a language arts center that is trying to educate kids. There are two different churches that lease the school on weekends. And when people come in on weekends, they smell smoke and see empty beer and other alcohol bottles. It’s not right.”

    Parents complained to the school district about empty beer bottles and lingering smoke from the parties.

  14. Charter Hype and Spin from Florida DOE
    By Diane Ravitch
    March 13, 2013

    One of the saddest consequences of the merger of education with partisan politics is that we now no longer can trust pronouncements from many of our state and local departments of education. Instead of accurate data, we are apt to get spin, hype, distortion, and outright lies, all in the service of someone’s political agenda.

    One of the worst offenders is the Florida Department of Education. For years, under Jeb Bush and now Rick Scott, the department has been incapable of impartial analysis or self-criticism. Instead, its goal is to parrot the party line of testing, accountability, charters, vouchers, and online learning.

    The latest embarrassing public relations stunt from the state DOE is a “study” claiming that charter schools in Florida outperform public schools. This is intended to help the privatization movement–for-profit and nonprofit–get a bigger market share.

    The latest “study” was not conducted by independent reputable scholars but by the Department itself. That explains a lot.

    Consider that only four months earlier, an independent study concluded the opposite: that public schools perform the same or better than charter schools.

    The key finding in that study was:

    “The average charter school is doing about the same as the non-charter school when no adjustments are made for poverty and minority statuses. When the adjusted scores are considered, the average charter school performs significantly worse than the average non-charter school.”

  15. Long broken-up posting to a couple of links and a vaguely creepy feeling that there is a plot afoot that is more unified that it initially appears.

    Great article Elaine and coupled with your last article on the matter and reading many of your links It’s been a real education for me. I’ve been generally opposed to Charter schools and home schooling since St. Louis started their Charter program a couple of decades ago.

    I would watch the news coverage of the day’s before ‘sign-up’ day in St. Louis wherein people would stand in line overnight and longer just to be able to get their kids names in the hopper for a drawing to attend a charter school and I would incense me. I did that for the Stones but c’mon, this wasn’t an opportunity for a drug-fueled evening of social abandon- this was enrollment in a SCHOOL! WTF? If this was such a good idea then every child should have access.

    The obviously disparit nature of our school system among the kids in well off districts, poor districts and now ‘lucky’ kids was appalling to me and surely a sign of a culture in serious decline.

    Over time, the money angle became more apparent to me but also and firstly, the damage to unions popped up on my radar. It was not as pronounced then as now though and the Charter programs were not as hostile to unions (it seemed to me) as they have become. Maybe there just wasn’t as much publicity for it though.

    Today, it seems to me that the Charter movement and the emergency manager movement EM for school systems, as well as now cities, seems to be designed to quash unions as an integral part of their equation. Hand in glove. A fundamental realignment of power away from workers and to owners.

    Maddow has followed Michigan’s infatuation with emergency managers appointed for cities, which includes their school systems, for over a year. Below is her latest report on the matter and the take-away is pretty direct: in 8 of the nine cities it has been done it did not work, it just disenfranchised the voters and the cities didn’t get ‘better’. The only place it worked was a little city that had a strong tax base and was not impoverished to begin with. It’s a good segment:

  16. So after reading this last article of yours I started looking for who and which organizations are funding the push for Charter schools and the schools themselves and found an interesting link. I’ve been playing with it for, like four hours. The same people/business interests that benefit from crushing labor as well as looting the countries economy seem to me to be the same interests that benefit from and advocate Charter schools including funding those school management business’. All done through foundations and charities.

    Suffice it to say that when I ended up on a page (deeply embedded, requiring an external search and link following for one of the grantee’s) of the Institute for a Competitive Workforce which is a program of the Chamber of Congress Foundation (which has embarked on a nationwide tour to empower parents to become ‘catalysts for change’ including seminars and how-to’s for aspiring school board positions) I just had to stop and eat something, assuming that the queasy feeling in my stomach was hunger.

    It’s like a photo of a tumor with it’s venous system burrowing surrounding tissue and going who knows where to pop up and connect with other tumors both near and far.

    Curse you Elaine, stop writing provocative articles! I’m going to end up with ulcers.

  17. I eventually ended up here:

    Erin Project:

    Click on “Charter Schools” and it takes you here:

    If you click on ‘Funders’ you go to a page that lists the largest donors to charter school advocates and funders as well as a discrete list of 446 organizations that do (all?) of the funding.

    All of these links are hot links and give you a thumbnail sketch of the organization as well as links regarding their funding info (what interests they fund), their officers, contact info and their subset of grants (how much they give to each organization funded). Now the list of grants is time consuming because those links are not hotlinks, you have to do external searches but, boy-o-boy Howdy, they are interesting. Much of the language in those links is opaque too but certain patterns of language emerge across the donor sites and inferences can be readily drawn. It is fascinating reading.

    All of the major links (tabs really) on the initial page of “Charter Schools”: Funders, Policy, Research, Organizations and Technology are interesting to say the least.

    Also, all of the “TOPICS” links in the left-hand column can be opened and each page contains a list of relevant pages all organized around the same format as above and so on through 13 topics.

    But wait! There’s MORE! as the late night TV product-shills say. That’s just under “TOPICS” there are other major breakdowns using even more fine filters for the particular information therein! WooHoo!

    So, yea. I’m a tad to the OCD side and just can’t resist spending an entire evening on a website like this.:-)

  18. Lotta,

    Thanks for the links. I’m more than a tad OCD when it comes to certain subjects that I post about.


    “It’s like a photo of a tumor with it’s venous system burrowing surrounding tissue and going who knows where to pop up and connect with other tumors both near and far.”


  19. Charter schools: cozy relationships, little oversight, taxpayer-paid profits
    By Mary Ellen Klas
    December 14, 2011

    Cozy political connections, favorable tax treatment and little public oversight has allowed Miami charter school chain Academica to exploit Florida’s laws, build a successful chain of schools, and profit off taxpayer dollars, a Miami Herald investigation has found.

    Charter schools have grown into a $400-million-a-year business in South Florida, receiving about $6,000 in taxpayer dollars for every student enrolled but even when charter schools have been caught violating state laws, school districts have few tools to demand compliance.

    With some of the least restrictive laws in the nation, charter schools in Florida have become a parallel school system unto themselves, a system controlled largely by for-profit management companies and private landlords — one and the same, in many cases — and rife with insider deals and potential conflicts of interest.

    In many instances, the educational mission of the school clashes with the profit-making mission of the management company, the Miami Herald found. The schools also take a disproportionately lower share of black, poor and disabled children, records show…

    * Rep. Erik Fresen, a Miami Republican, is the brother-in-law of Fernando Zulueta, Academica’s CEO and is a former Academica lobbyist. He now earns $150,000 a year as a land-use consultant for Civica, a Doral architectural firm that has built several schools run by Academica — including schools on land controlled by the Zulueta brothers.

    Earlier this year, Fresen drafted language in an education bill barring cities from imposing stricter zoning or building regulations on charter schools. At the time, the city of South Miami was considering zoning regulations that could have inhibited expansion of the Somerset Academy at SoMi, an Academica school.

    * From 2002 to 2006, Academica also paid $230,000 to then-Rep. Ralph Arza of Hialeah under an undisclosed consulting contract, records show. At the time, Arza also sat on an education committee in the House. Miami-Dade prosecutors investigated Arza’s ties to Academica in 2007 and 2008, records show. While being paid by Academica, Arza authored or backed at least five bills that could have benefited the charter school industry, according to records compiled by prosecutors. However, they could find no evidence that the Academica contract improperly influenced Arza’s votes. More here.

    *The different Academica chains all rely on the same company to perform the property appraisals. And many schools have used the same attorney to negotiate the leases with the Zulueta land companies. That attorney, Charles Gibson, also has ties to Academica and is on the board of the Theodore R. and Thelma A. Gibson Charter School in Overtown — an Academica-run school founded by Gibson’s grandparents. The school has received $415,000 in grants and loans from Academica, records show.

  20. lotta,

    Warning: This report will not be good for your ulcers!


    Charter Schools: Missing the Grade, Part 2
    Deals and debts: Nearly half of Florida’s charters had operating deficits
    By Mary Shanklin and Vicki McClure | Sentinel Staff Writers,0,5980407.htmlpage

    Joseph Littles-Nguzo Saba Charter School has been short on cash since it opened in 1999. One look around the place, and it’s obvious.

    One hundred thirty students share seven computers. The science-lab equipment consists of two microscopes and a set of scales. Children cannot take home books. The D-rated school spends less than half the money it gets from taxpayers on instruction.

    Yet it’s paying a $2,000-a-month pension and providing several life-insurance policies for the school’s founder, who no longer works at the school. Though traditional schools could never legally borrow money from individuals, the struggling school is in $120,000 debt to its founder.

    “You talk about a shoestring budget,” said the new principal, the Rev. Richard Scott. “We don’t even have shoes.”

    A decade after Florida launched charter schools to give students more choice in where they attend public school, nearly half of the 300-plus charters have operating deficits.

    At the same time, more than $200 million of the $492 million Florida spent on these privately operated schools in 2005 went to charters that had business relationships with school officials: renting buildings to the charters, selling services to them, hiring relatives as employees.

    Then there are the odd expenditures.

    Palm Beach County’s Survivors Charter Schools had a 10-year, $100,000 contract for eight season tickets to Miami Dolphins games, which it distributed to the principal and others.

    One of the two Survivors campuses also gave the principal $600 a month to lease a BMW car and paid him $163,412 a year, according to 2006-07 audits by the Palm Beach County School District.

    The Orlando Sentinel found these and other financial details in property records, federal tax reports and hundreds of state-required financial audits filed by charters, which lawmakers exempted from many restrictions on conventional schools. More information turned up in records of school districts that dole out the public money.

    Among the findings:

    Nearly half of the audited charters had operating deficits in 2005, the latest year of audits released by the state. Total operating losses for these schools exceeded $37 million. Nearly 100 met one of the criteria for being declared in a state of financial emergency under a law passed last year.

    More than 140 schools had intertwined business relationships that would raise questions at traditional schools or at charters in several other states. Most were disclosed by charter auditors, who reviewed each school’s finances and reported them as “related-party transactions.”

    Nearly one in 10 charters spent more on administration than on the classroom.

  21. 80% of Michigan Charter Schools are For-Profits

    The charter school movement began as a grassroots attempt to improve public education. It’s quickly becoming a backdoor for corporate profit. In Michigan, four out of five charter schools are run by for-profit EMO’s…

    Four out of five charter schools in Michigan are run by for-profit corporations. Let that sink in a minute. This should be deeply, deeply troubling for anyone thinking about their child’s future education, or the future of this country.

    We’ve had years to examine for-profit education results at the higher education level. Companies like University of Phoenix and others cost taxpayers money, provide subpar education, serve as diploma mills, and prey on students who may never be able to pay back the tens of thousands of dollars in student loans they take on. They even prey on military veterans and active-duty service members.

    We should be terrified of this happening to our public schools. Yet here it is happening nonetheless, all across the country. The corporate takeover of public education is underway, though its origins may be in the good intentions of people like Dr. Miron and the well-meaning efforts of school reformers to improve the education prospects of our children.

  22. Profits and Questions at Online Charter Schools
    Published: December 12, 2011

    By almost every educational measure, the Agora Cyber Charter School is failing.

    Nearly 60 percent of its students are behind grade level in math. Nearly 50 percent trail in reading. A third do not graduate on time. And hundreds of children, from kindergartners to seniors, withdraw within months after they enroll.

    By Wall Street standards, though, Agora is a remarkable success that has helped enrich K12 Inc., the publicly traded company that manages the school. And the entire enterprise is paid for by taxpayers.

    Agora is one of the largest in a portfolio of similar public schools across the country run by K12. Eight other for-profit companies also run online public elementary and high schools, enrolling a large chunk of the more than 200,000 full-time cyberpupils in the United States.

    The pupils work from their homes, in some cases hundreds of miles from their teachers. There is no cafeteria, no gym and no playground. Teachers communicate with students by phone or in simulated classrooms on the Web. But while the notion of an online school evokes cutting-edge methods, much of the work is completed the old-fashioned way, with a pencil and paper while seated at a desk.

    Kids mean money. Agora is expecting income of $72 million this school year, accounting for more than 10 percent of the total anticipated revenues of K12, the biggest player in the online-school business. The second-largest, Connections Education, with revenues estimated at $190 million, was bought this year by the education and publishing giant Pearson for $400 million.

    The business taps into a formidable coalition of private groups and officials promoting nontraditional forms of public education. The growth of for-profit online schools, one of the more overtly commercial segments of the school choice movement, is rooted in the theory that corporate efficiencies combined with the Internet can revolutionize public education, offering high quality at reduced cost.

    The New York Times has spent several months examining this idea, focusing on K12 Inc. A look at the company’s operations, based on interviews and a review of school finances and performance records, raises serious questions about whether K12 schools — and full-time online schools in general — benefit children or taxpayers, particularly as state education budgets are being slashed.

    Instead, a portrait emerges of a company that tries to squeeze profits from public school dollars by raising enrollment, increasing teacher workload and lowering standards.

    Current and former staff members of K12 Inc. schools say problems begin with intense recruitment efforts that fail to filter out students who are not suited for the program, which requires strong parental commitment and self-motivated students. Online schools typically are characterized by high rates of withdrawal.

  23. How Charter Schools Fleece Taxpayers

    In government, if I help myself to taxpayer dollars, we call that embezzlement and I go to jail. In the private sector, if I help myself to taxpayer dollars, we call that innovation and I get hailed as a visionary exponent of public-private partnership. That’s the lesson of a Nov. 17 investigation by Anne Ryman of the Arizona Republic into the state’s charter schools.

    In her examination of Arizona’s 50 largest nonprofit charter schools and all of Arizona’s nonprofit charter schools with assets exceeding $10 million, Ryman found “at least 17 contracts or arrangements, totaling more than $70 million over five years and involving about 40 school sites, in which money from the non-profit charter school went to for-profit or non-profit companies run by board members, executives or their relatives.” That says to me that in Arizona, at least, charter-school corruption isn’t the exception. It’s the rule. And that’s just in the nonprofit charter schools. Documentation for the for-profit schools is not publicly available. What are the odds that charter-school proprietors operating in the dark are less inclined to enrich themselves at public expense?

    The self-dealing is entirely legal. All you have to do is get yourself an exemption from state laws requiring that goods and services be bid competitively. Clearly these exemptions aren’t difficult to acquire, because 90 percent of Arizona’s charter holders—not 90 percent of the charter schools surveyed by the Arizona Republic, but 90 percent of all the state’s charter schools—have acquired permanent exemptions from state competitive bidding requirements. No exemption has ever been withdrawn by the state. If you are a charter-school officer and you stand to benefit personally from some financial transaction with the school, you may not vote on whether to make the purchase. But that’s about the only rule.

    The result? “The schools’ purchases from their own officials,” Ryman writes, “range from curriculum and business consulting to land leases and transportation services. A handful of non-profit schools outsource most of their operations to a board member’s for-profit company.” A nonprofit called Great Hearts Academies runs 15 Arizona charter schools. Since 2009, according to Ryman, the schools have purchased $987,995 in books from Educational Sales Co., whose chairman, Daniel Sauer, is a Great Hearts officer. And that doesn’t count additional book purchases made directly by parents. Six of the Great Hearts schools have links on their Web sites for parents who wish to make such purchases. The links are, of course, to Educational Sales Co. Since 2007 Sauer has donated $50,400 to Great Hearts. You can call that philanthropy, or you can call that an investment on which Sauer’s company received a return of more than 1800 percent. I’m not sure even Russian oligarchs typically get that much on the back end.

  24. [music] Celebrate, Celebrate, dance to the music…
    Recall that commercial?

    How about this one. Compliments of George Wallace et al.
    [music] same tune as Celebrate:

    Segregate, Segregate, dance to the music…
    Charter Schools, Charter Schools,…
    Same place different strokes for same folks….

    JoeBob can go to the Charter School over in Vanceboro and avoid New Bern and all those Mexicans and blackfolk. Yessir. Why do they need to Mix? Jeso. Next thing ya know they will be in the church on Sunday.
    [overheard at the Hess Station in Vanceboro.]

  25. I am not sure I agree with his conclusion but this is what some people are thinking:

    “I begin with my conclusion: The “public” school system is the most immoral and corrupt institution in the United States of America today, and it should be abolished. It should be abolished for the same reason that chattel slavery was ended in the 19th century: Although different in purpose and in magnitude of harm to its victims, public education, like slavery, is a form of involuntary servitude. The primary difference is that public schools force children to serve the interests of the state rather than those of an individual master.

    These are—to be sure—radical claims, but they are true, and the abolition of public schools is an idea whose time has come. It is time for Americans to reexamine—radically and comprehensively—the nature and purpose of their disastrously failing public school system, and to launch a new abolitionist movement, a movement to liberate tens of millions of children and their parents from this form of bondage.”

    C. Bradley Thompson

  26. Education Profiteering; Wall Street’s Next Big Thing?
    By Jeff Faux, Founder and now Distinguished Fellow at the Economic Policy Institute
    Posted: 09/28/2012

    The end of the Chicago teachers’ strike was but a temporary regional truce in the civil war that plagues the nation’s public schools. There is no end in sight, in part because — as often happens in wartime — the conflict is increasingly being driven by profiteers.

    The familiar media narrative tells us that this is a fight over how to improve our schools. On the one side are the self-styled reformers, who argue that the central problem with American K-12 education is low-quality teachers protected by their unions. Their solution is privatization, with its most common form being the privately run but publicly financed charter school. Because charter schools are mostly unregulated, nonunion and compete for students, their promoters claim they will, ipso facto, perform better than public schools.

    On the other side are teachers and their unions who are cast as villains. The conventional plot line is that they resist change, blame poverty for their schools’ failings and protect their jobs and turf.

    It is well known, although rarely acknowledged in the press, that the reform movement has been financed and led by the corporate class. For over twenty years large business oriented foundations, such as Gates (Microsoft), Walton (Wal-Mart) and Broad (Sun Life) have poured billions into charter school start-ups, sympathetic academics and pundits, media campaigns (including Hollywood movies) and sophisticated nurturing of the careers of privatization promoters who now dominate the education policy debate from local school boards to the US Department of Education.

    In recent years, hedge fund operators, leverage-buy-out artists and investment bankers have joined the crusade. They finance schools, sit on the boards of their associations and the management companies that run them, and — most important — have made support of charter schools one of the criteria for campaign giving in the post-Citizens United era. Since most Republicans are already on board for privatization, the political pressure has been mostly directed at Democrats.

    Thus, for example, when Andrew Cuomo wanted to get the support of hedge fund managers for his run for governor of New York, he was told to talk to Joe Williams, director of Democrats for Education Reform, a group set up to lobby liberals on privatization. Cuomo is now a champion of charter schools. As Joanne Barkan noted in a Dissent Magazine report, privatizers are even targeting school board elections, in one case spending over $630,000 to elect two members in a local school board race last year in Colorado.

    Wall Street’s involvement in the charter school movement — when the media acknowledges it — is presented as an act of philanthropy. Perhaps, as critics claim, hedge funders are meddling in an area they know nothing about. But their motives are worthy. Indeed, since they send their own children to the best private schools, their concern for other people’s children seems remarkably altruistic. “Wall Street has always put its money where its interests of beliefs lie,” observed this New York Times article, “But it is far less common that so many financial heavyweights would adopt a social cause like charter schools and advance it with a laser like focus in the political realm.”

    Yet, with the wide variety of social causes and charitable needs — poverty, health, housing, global warming, the arts, etc. — why would so many Wall Streeters focus laser-like on this particular issue? The Times suggest two answers. One is that the money managers are hard-nosed, data-driven investors “drawn to the business-like way in which many charter schools are run; their focus on results primarily measured by test scores.”

    Twenty years ago, one might have reasonably believed that the private charter schools, which are managed to produce the numbers, would produce better outcomes — as measured by the numbers. But the overwhelming evidence is that they do not. The single most comprehensive study, by researchers at Stanford University, found that 17 percent of charter school students performed better than their public school counterparts, 46 percent no better and 37 percent worse. Stanford’s conclusions have been reinforced by virtually all of the serious research, including those at the University of California, the Economic Policy Institute and the policy research firm Mathematica.

    Nor do charter schools seem more efficient. Those promoted as the most successful examples have been heavily subsidized by foundations and Wall Street donors. The film, Waiting for Superman that portrays a heroic charter school organizer fighting a selfish teachers union was widely hyped in the media — including popular TV shows like Oprah Winfrey’s. Yet, as Diane Ravitch, an assistant secretary of education under George H.W. Bush and a former charter school supporter turned critic, noted, the film neglected to report that the hero educator kicked out the entire first class of the school because their test scores were too low, that the school was heavily subsidized by the pro-reform foundations and that the hero took an annual salary of four hundred thousand dollars.

  27. The Outrage of the Week
    By Diane Ravitch on
    May 3, 2011

    Dear Deborah,

    It is way past time to get mad. Each week, it is hard to know which of the latest outrages against American public education is the worst.

    Perhaps it was the agreement between the Gates Foundation and the Pearson Foundation to write the nation’s curriculum. When did we vote to hand over American education to them? Why would we outsource the nation’s curriculum to a for-profit publishing and test-making corporation based in London? Does Bill Gates get to write the national curriculum because he is the richest man in America? We know that his foundation is investing heavily in promoting the Common Core standards. Now his foundation will write a K-12 curriculum that will promote online learning and video gaming. That’s good for the tech sector, but is it good for our nation’s schools? Oh, and one more outrage: The Gates Foundation and the Eli Broad Foundation, both of which maintain the pretense of being Democrats and/or liberals, have given millions to former Florida governor Jeb Bush’s foundation, which is promoting vouchers, charters, online learning, test-based accountability, and the whole panoply of corporate reform strategies intended to weaken public education and remove teachers’ job protections.

    Yes, indeed, the education reform business is booming. A recent article in Idaho details the campaign contributions of online learning companies to the state superintendent of instruction, who recently decided—surprise!—to mandate online learning and laptops for every student. This is the new face of corporate reform. It offers entree to the vast riches of the nation’s education industry, a sector that spends about $800 billion of public money at the local, state, and federal levels. Some refer to the No Child Left Behind Act as “no consultant left behind.” It has been and continues to be a bonanza for the testing, test preparation, and tutoring industries. Race to the Top has opened the door to many more consultants, charter operators, and turn-around strategists. The gold rush is on!

    The scariest thought is that the Obama administration welcomes the corporatization of public education. Not only welcomes the rise of educational entrepreneurialism, but encourages it. U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan’s chief of staff Joanne Weiss, who has experience as an education entrepreneur, wrote the following in a blog for the Harvard Business Review:

    “The development of common standards and shared assessments radically alters the market for innovation in curriculum development, professional development, and formative assessments. Previously, these markets operated on a state-by-state basis, and often on a district-by-district basis. But the adoption of common standards and shared assessments means that education entrepreneurs will enjoy national markets where the best products can be taken to scale.”

    Yes, indeed, lots of opportunities for new businesses, smart investors, and a national marketplace for entrepreneurs. I would expect to read this sort of thing from the public relations department of Pearson or McGraw-Hill or one of the other industry leaders. But the chief of staff to the U.S. secretary of education?

    This is what I don’t understand. The free market nearly collapsed our economy in September 2008. Why would anyone now think that our public schools should be turned over to the privatizers, entrepreneurs, and go-getters who have figured out how to market their wares, brand their products, and turn education into a lucrative business? I don’t mean to cast aspersion on American business. I like free markets, I like the range of goods and services they provide. I have no objection to people making a profit on their goods and services, but I also think that a decent society needs a vibrant public sector. Frankly, the handing over of public education to the free market makes me profoundly uneasy.

  28. eLAINE:

    He has written for them but I dont think he is paid by them [I could be wrong], he is a college prof.

    I cant link to the entire article because it is by subscription only, the part I posted is what can be seen publically.

    What would be interesting is to have a debate on this blog between you and Dr. Thompson. You know the problems with the public school system and probably have many ideas on how to fix the system and make it more efficient.

  29. Bron,

    There are many thousands of schools in this country–some are excellent…some are not. Yet, what we continually hear is that American education is failing our youth. What one has to do first is to take a good look at the failing schools and at the successful schools. We need to discover the reasons why the bad schools are failing and the good schools are successful. (I think many of us already know what some of those reasons are.)

    Much of my objection to the current school reform movement is that it is destroying education in the best public schools. Too much reliance has been put on test scores to assess the progress of students and the effectiveness of classroom teachers.

  30. In theory it’s about better education…. But in reality… Busting unions, benefit dollars, return on investment,…. I’m not a proponent of charter schools for that reason…. They have no accountability except to investors….

  31. Got Dough? How Billionaires Rule Our Schools
    By Joanne Barkan – Winter 2011

    The cost of K–12 public schooling in the United States comes to well over $500 billion per year. So, how much influence could anyone in the private sector exert by controlling just a few billion dollars of that immense sum? Decisive influence, it turns out. A few billion dollars in private foundation money, strategically invested every year for a decade, has sufficed to define the national debate on education; sustain a crusade for a set of mostly ill-conceived reforms; and determine public policy at the local, state, and national levels. In the domain of venture philanthropy—where donors decide what social transformation they want to engineer and then design and fund projects to implement their vision—investing in education yields great bang for the buck.

    Hundreds of private philanthropies together spend almost $4 billion annually to support or transform K–12 education, most of it directed to schools that serve low-income children (only religious organizations receive more money). But three funders—the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Eli and Edythe Broad (rhymes with road) Foundation, and the Walton Family Foundation—working in sync, command the field. Whatever nuances differentiate the motivations of the Big Three, their market-based goals for overhauling public education coincide: choice, competition, deregulation, accountability, and data-based decision-making. And they fund the same vehicles to achieve their goals: charter schools, high-stakes standardized testing for students, merit pay for teachers whose students improve their test scores, firing teachers and closing schools when scores don’t rise adequately, and longitudinal data collection on the performance of every student and teacher. Other foundations—Ford, Hewlett, Annenberg, Milken, to name just a few—often join in funding one project or another, but the education reform movement’s success so far has depended on the size and clout of the Gates-Broad-Walton triumvirate.

    Every day, dozens of reporters and bloggers cover the Big Three’s reform campaign, but critical in-depth investigations have been scarce (for reasons I’ll explain further on). Meanwhile, evidence is mounting that the reforms are not working. Stanford University’s 2009 study of charter schools—the most comprehensive ever done—concluded that 83 percent of them perform either worse or no better than traditional public schools; a 2010 Vanderbilt University study showed definitively that merit pay for teachers does not produce higher test scores for students; a National Research Council report confirmed multiple studies that show standardized test scores do not measure student learning adequately. Gates and Broad helped to shape and fund two of the nation’s most extensive and aggressive school reform programs—in Chicago and New York City—but neither has produced credible improvement in student performance after years of experimentation.

    To justify their campaign, ed reformers repeat, mantra-like, that U.S. students are trailing far behind their peers in other nations, that U.S. public schools are failing. The claims are specious. Two of the three major international tests—the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study and the Trends in International Math and Science Study—break down student scores according to the poverty rate in each school. The tests are given every five years. The most recent results (2006) showed the following: students in U.S. schools where the poverty rate was less than 10 percent ranked first in reading, first in science, and third in math. When the poverty rate was 10 percent to 25 percent, U.S. students still ranked first in reading and science. But as the poverty rate rose still higher, students ranked lower and lower. Twenty percent of all U.S. schools have poverty rates over 75 percent. The average ranking of American students reflects this. The problem is not public schools; it is poverty. And as dozens of studies have shown, the gap in cognitive, physical, and social development between children in poverty and middle-class children is set by age three.

    Drilling students on sample questions for weeks before a state test will not improve their education. The truly excellent charter schools depend on foundation money and their prerogative to send low-performing students back to traditional public schools. They cannot be replicated to serve millions of low-income children. Yet the reform movement, led by Gates, Broad, and Walton, has convinced most Americans who have an opinion about education (including most liberals) that their agenda deserves support.

    Given all this, I want to explore three questions: How do these foundations operate on the ground? How do they leverage their money into control over public policy? And how do they construct consensus? We know the array of tools used by the foundations for education reform: they fund programs to close down schools, set up charters, and experiment with data-collection software, testing regimes, and teacher evaluation plans; they give grants to research groups and think tanks to study all the programs, to evaluate all the studies, and to conduct surveys; they give grants to TV networks for programming and to news organizations for reporting; they spend hundreds of millions on advocacy outreach to the media, to government at every level, and to voters. Yet we don’t know much at all until we get down to specifics…

    No Silver Bullet

    The sorry tale of the Gates Foundation’s first major project in education reform has been told often, but it’s key to understanding how Gates functions. I’ll run through it briefly. In 2000 the foundation began pouring money into breaking up large public high schools where test scores and graduation rates were low. The foundation insisted that more individual attention in closer “learning communities” would—presto!—boost achievement. The foundation didn’t base its decision on scientific studies showing school size mattered; such studies didn’t exist. As reported in Bloomberg Businessweek (July 15, 2010), Wharton School statistician Howard Wainer believes Gates probably “misread the numbers” and simply “seized on data showing small schools are overrepresented among the country’s highest achievers….” Gates spent $2 billion between 2000 and 2008 to set up 2,602 schools in 45 states and the District of Columbia, “directly reaching at least 781,000 students,” according to a foundation brochure. Michael Klonsky, professor at DePaul University and national director of the Small Schools Workshop, describes the Gates effect this way:

    Gates funding was so large and so widespread, it seemed for a time as if every initiative in the small-schools and charter world was being underwritten by the foundation. If you wanted to start a school, hold a meeting, organize a conference, or write an article in an education journal, you first had to consider Gates (“Power Philanthropy” in The Gates Foundation and the Future of Public Schools, 2010).

    In November 2008, Bill and Melinda gathered about one hundred prominent figures in education at their home outside Seattle to announce that the small schools project hadn’t produced strong results. They didn’t mention that, instead, it had produced many gut-wrenching sagas of school disruption, conflict, students and teachers jumping ship en masse, and plummeting attendance, test scores, and graduation rates. No matter, the power couple had a new plan: performance-based teacher pay, data collection, national standards and tests, and school “turnaround” (the term of art for firing the staff of a low-performing school and hiring a new one, replacing the school with a charter, or shutting down the school and sending the kids elsewhere).

    To support the new initiatives, the Gates Foundation had already invested almost $2.2 million to create The Turnaround Challenge, the authoritative how-to guide on turnaround. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has called it “the bible” for school restructuring. He’s incorporated it into federal policy, and reformers around the country use it. Mass Insight Education, the consulting company that produced it, claims the document has been downloaded 200,000 times since 2007. Meanwhile, Gates also invested $90 million in one of the largest implementations of the turnaround strategy—Chicago’s Renaissance 2010. Ren10 gave Chicago public schools CEO Arne Duncan a national name and ticket to Washington; he took along the reform strategy. Shortly after he arrived, studies showing weak results for Ren10 began circulating, but the Chicago Tribune still caused a stir on January 17, 2010, with an article entitled “Daley School Plan Fails to Make Grade.”

    Six years after Mayor Richard Daley launched a bold initiative to close down and remake failing schools, Renaissance 2010 has done little to improve the educational performance of the city’s school system, according to a Tribune analysis of 2009 state test data.

    …The moribund test scores follow other less than enthusiastic findings about Renaissance 2010—that displaced students ended up mostly in other low performing schools and that mass closings led to youth violence as rival gang members ended up in the same classrooms. Together, they suggest the initiative hasn’t lived up to its promise by this, its target year.

    Last fall, Daley announced that he wouldn’t run again for mayor; Ron Huberman, who replaced Duncan as schools CEO, announced that he would leave before Daley; and Rahm Emanuel, preparing to run for Daley’s job, announced that he would promote another privately funded reform campaign for Chicago’s schools. “Let’s raise a ton of money,” he told the Chicago Tribune (October 18, 2010). Eminently doable.

  32. Elaine:

    “Too much reliance has been put on test scores to assess the progress of students and the effectiveness of classroom teachers.”


    The teachers are forced by the state to teach to the Standards of Learning tests. It is a big problem. Students dont come prepared to learn and parents do not support the teachers in many cases. I am all for standards but I am not sure how you grade a teacher when the raw material refuses to yield to the process.

    My wife is a teacher and I have seen you make the same observations she does. So I know it isnt a left right split but the truth. Not being a teacher, I dont think I have the knowledge to have an opinion. So I really dont know if private schools would be better.

    One thing they [private schools] could do though is to kick out students who disrupted class or who were not there to learn. If public schools could posture a little more and tell parents it is not a right to send your child to school, maybe people would appreciate public education.

  33. Bron,

    Many Democrats–including President Obama and Arne Duncan–support the type of corporate-driven school reform that relies too much on high stakes testing–a simplistic way to assess education and educators. Education should be about meeting the needs of students. Not all students are the same. They learn in different ways. We should not be spending billions of dollars and so much valuable class time each year on high stakes testing–while cutting money for the arts, school libraries, physical education. I’m glad I retired from teaching before I was put in an educational straightjacket.

  34. Elaine:

    One thing to be said for private education is choice, religious, secular, science, tech, the arts, special needs, etc.

  35. Bron,

    There are also public magnet schools that focus on different disciplines/areas of study–fine arts, performing arts, math, the sciences. There are public technical schools.

  36. “Kids mean money.”

    I have spent all morning reading the various links provided by Elaine and the tabs provided by lotta and although I have come across a few instances of genuine concern for improving the system, most of the info leads to one end … moneymaking.

    The greed disease has reached such epidemic proportions that “taking candy from a baby” is now considered an acceptable and praiseworthy means to achieving or increasing individual adult wealth.

    As I give thought to my own community and those immediately on its borders, I see public school systems that are strong and healthy. They all have high ratings within the state and the teachers’ unions work closely with their administrations in keeping the standards high. Rather than being content with this information, I am frightened. There’s lots of unprotected babies with candy in these systems and god only knows what the greed-infected charter school monsters are plotting as they salivate over this unplucked money fruit.

  37. Getting rich off of schoolchildren
    Stop pretending wealthy CEOs pushing for charter schools are altruistic “reformers.” They’re raking in billions
    By David Sirota

    National Public Radio was one of the few media outlets to even mention this profit motive as driving education politics. Setting an example for how education journalism should be conducted (but largely isn’t), it reported that Murdoch’s education technology push is about delivering “future revenues from his educational branch to help shore up the finances of his newspaper and publishing division.”

    Of course, if the tech industry’s attempts to make money by technologizing the classroom was also a proven way to improve education, then the education “reform” movement’s for-profit scheme might seem a bit less odious. It might seem like an example of a laudable public-private partnership whereby an industry does well for itself by doing right for the greater good.

    But that’s not the case in education so far. As the New York Times exhaustively documented, “reformers” have convinced schools to spend “billions on technology, even as they cut budgets and lay off teachers, with little proof that this approach is improving basic learning.” As just one glaring example of that lack of proof, the Times points out that “a division of the Education Department that rates classroom curriculums has found that much educational software is not an improvement over textbooks” (this why Idahoans recently voted overwhelmingly to reject a plan in the Legislature that would have diverted money for teachers into classroom computers).

    Education results, however, don’t matter to the moneyed interests behind the “reform” movement. Profits do — and the potential profits are enormous.

    Citing a fact sheet from the for-profit education industry itself, the Washington Post recently reported that “the education sector now represents nearly 9 percent of the country’s gross domestic product” while the “for-profit education is valued at $1.3 trillion, and is one of the largest U.S. investment markets.” Likewise, NPR reports that as he’s launched an education technology division, Rupert Murdoch “has described education as a market worth hundreds of billions of dollars.” This is why the tech site Geekwire predicts another full-scale tech industry bubble, thanks to “K-12 and other education segments now being chased by a mob of investment capitalists.”

    Give “reformers” credit; they have successfully hidden a venal investment strategy in the veneer of idealistic political activism. Appropriating the poll-tested argot of change and mass movement, the Wall Streeters and tech moguls who finance the “reform” efforts have somehow convinced the political press to ignore one of the most powerful motivators of human action: the almighty dollar.

  38. The impact of charter schools on our tax bills and the Albany community has been immense. It is such an industry, if you raise any objection you are publically vilified. After the president of the district’s school board criticized the charter school movement of siphoning off educational funds his personal phone number was distributed to charter schools with instructions to call him personally to complain. And the taxpayers have no recourse at all. Catholic schools, typically the alternative to the publics are closed pretty much all their neighborhood schools with the buildings now renovated and operated by charters.The charter schools are all new, have longer hours, routinely return disruptive or failing students to the district, get reimbursed for uniforms and advertise heavily using my tax dollars. the district has to accept and plan for any student who might return on a day’s notice.They don’t have to report enrollment information or actual attendance numbers so the schools are overbuilt and can stay that way. Walmart also gives them grants and I still see Brighter Choice students outside of the local Walmart begging for money for their schools. The schools get an average reimbursement of all education even thought they operate less expensive school levels. The charters are virtually 100% minority students with a non-minority staff which has a huge turnover rate. And the schools have not improved and Albany still has a reputation for lousy public schools regardless of the charters. The same home in Albany is priced $100,000 less than neighboring suburbs of Guilderland or Colonie simply because of the schools. The people who are making these decisions for Albany do not live in Albany and have no investment in our community.

  39. rosienalbany,

    Thanks for your input.


    A New Vision of School Reform
    Pedro Noguera May 27, 2010

    However, change in education cannot be implemented on a piecemeal basis. The administration needs a new vision, one rooted in the recognition that schools must provide equal opportunity for all children to learn if the schools are to fulfill their vital role as the cornerstone of our democracy. For this to happen, the administration must understand what was wrong with NCLB and the policies pursued by the Bush administration, and it must direct funds where change and innovation are most needed.

    To begin with, Obama and Duncan would do well to exercise better judgment in the language they choose and the approach they take in addressing the politics of education. Duncan’s assertion that Hurricane Katrina was “the best thing that happened to the education system in New Orleans” because it gave the city a chance to rebuild and improve its failing public schools was particularly callous and misguided, given that the educational needs of many children in that devastated city still have not been addressed. It also wasn’t wise for Duncan to describe the mass firing of teachers in Central Falls, Rhode Island, as “courageous,” especially given that there is no reserve supply of highly qualified teachers waiting for their chance to replace those who have been dismissed. Furthermore, Obama and Duncan’s emphasis on narrowly framed pay-for-performance schemes that punish and reward teachers is insensitive to the needs of schools plagued by high failure rates. Educators were an important part of Obama’s base in the 2008 election; although this does not mean the administration should avoid shaking things up or refrain from adopting reforms that may anger some union locals, it makes no sense to inflame them with careless and accusatory rhetoric.

    Second, while there is ample evidence that major changes and a new direction are needed, this will require more than a rebranding of No Child Left Behind. Rather than launch another set of Bush-type reforms (e.g., academic standards for preschools) or distributing funds through a competitive process that leaves out most states at a time when funding is scarce (e.g., Race to the Top), the administration must comprehend why the policies of the Bush years did not produce greater success. From the exceedingly high dropout rates in many urban school districts (more than 50 percent in cities such as Los Angeles, Detroit, Cleveland and St. Louis) to the hundreds of chronically underperforming schools that Duncan claims need to be shut down, signs of failure abound. Figuring out why NCLB failed to do more to improve schools in high-poverty communities requires rejecting simplistic approaches like those being taken by New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg and his schools chancellor, Joel Klein, who have shut down ninety-one failing schools in the past eight years. It is important to note that these schools failed on Bloomberg and Klein’s watch and did not respond to their reforms. Closing troubled schools may sound like decisive action, but it does not amount to a reform strategy. When policy-makers are unclear about why their policies do not result in improvement, and are even less clear about what must be done differently to prevent failure in the future, closing schools is little more than a punitive shell game.

    Third, the need for change is clear, but history has shown that change in public education does not come easily or quickly. The Obama administration deserves credit for its willingness to provide funds to promote reform, but it is far too impressed with quick fixes like mayoral control of urban districts and charter schools. Over the past forty years studies have shown that education policy must be devised in concert with health reform, poverty alleviation initiatives and economic development in order to address the roots of failure in the most depressed areas. From crime and unemployment to teen pregnancy and even racism, education—or the lack thereof—is implicated in many of our nation’s social and economic problems. Education can be part of the solution to these and many other problems if reforms are designed and implemented in concert with key constituents—parents, teachers, local leaders and students—and with an understanding of how they must be coordinated with other aspects of social policy.

  40. Phil,

    I know Eli…. He has bern very generous to higher Ed…. I was unaware that he is doing this….

  41. Philaken, Exellant link, thanks for shining the light on the current, high level revolving door for me.

  42. philaken,

    Thanks for the link.



    Gates, Broad, and the Walton family are the “big three” names in the school refom movement.


    Got Dough? Public School Reform in the Age of Venture Philanthropy
    Thursday 06 January 2011
    by: Joanne Barkan | Dissent Magazine | Op-Ed

    Hundreds of private philanthropies together spend almost $4 billion annually to support or transform K–12 education, most of it directed to schools that serve low-income children (only religious organizations receive more money). But three funders—the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Eli and Edythe Broad (rhymes with road) Foundation, and the Walton Family Foundation—working in sync, command the field. Whatever nuances differentiate the motivations of the Big Three, their market-based goals for overhauling public education coincide: choice, competition, deregulation, accountability, and data-based decision-making. And they fund the same vehicles to achieve their goals: charter schools, high-stakes standardized testing for students, merit pay for teachers whose students improve their test scores, firing teachers and closing schools when scores don’t rise adequately, and longitudinal data collection on the performance of every student and teacher. Other foundations—Ford, Hewlett, Annenberg, Milken, to name just a few—often join in funding one project or another, but the education reform movement’s success so far has depended on the size and clout of the Gates-Broad-Walton triumvirate.

  43. Elaine,

    Eli Broad has been extremely to MSU…. For that I think we’ll of him…. But, with all the other malarkey I am aghast….you brought up another name I’m gonna have to check on…. Thanks…

  44. Elaine, your link and excerpt above:

    “Got Dough? How Billionaires Rule Our Schools
    By Joanne Barkan – Winter 2011

    is eye opening and a must read on the subject.
    You know that OCD I mentioned? Well, I was up ’til dawn following trails on the site I found. Then got up today and got back to it. I started with the school mentioned in one of your links and just let it take me away, which ended up being very far afield of where I started.

    One thing that quickly became apparent is that the whole private funding situation is so incestuous that it would be illegal in Arkansas and certainly be regulated or illegal if it was not hiding within charitable giving. At the lowest iteration a school is funded in part by various foundations (some of their names come up often) but when you start looking at who is funding those foundations and trusts and institutes, and who is funding them, the same names keep popping up. Some are limited by regional focus (a handful of ‘givers’ are majorly funding in a state or limited region) but many of them have nationwide reach. Hundreds of millions of dollars are being poured into various states and regions by a wide but shallow donor base.

    Names that are ubiquitous are Walton and Gates as funders of the funders and then their funders. There are some pretty interesting funders on regional levels too like the Kern Family Foundation, here’s their mission statement:

    “The foundation is committed to preserving the traditions of free enterprise, technical leadership, ordered liberty and good character that have enabled the American nation to thrive intellectually, economically and culturally. Guided by this vision, the foundation supports two education programs that promote intellectual excellence and virtuous citizenship: 1) American History, Economics, and Religion: the mission is to build the moral and intellectual foundations of a free and prosperous society; 2) Education Reform: the mission is to broaden the national education reform conversation to incorporate a strong focus on the international achievement gap and character development. ….”

    Concepts like “ordered liberty” (my emphasis above) scare the shite out of me. They seem to be local/regional donors.

    The report you published has it right on who the principal players are but the B&M Gates foundation is the elephant in the room, a 34 billion in assets for s charitable trust with giving for charter schools in 2010 of (I added it up rounding down to the 10thousand of 681 million. $681,492,xxx.xx. The Walton Family Foundation was at 149 million and the E&E Broad Foundation gave 145 million. This illustrates to me why, as was asked of one of your other links/quotes ‘how come Bill Gates gets to write school curricula’? You fund something, anything, to the tune of almost 3/4ths of a billion dollars in one year (later figures weren’t available) and you can write whatever you want, make any demand you like.

    I think the deal has gone down. It is ongoing but the privatization of the school system has taken place. Putting that genie back in the bottle is not a task to be undertaken in our political or economic climate. Education is now a profit center (the number of givers, ‘buyers’ actually, that are obviously corporate, banking and education management oriented is kind of amazing to me) and a means of controlling local governments. That doesn’t even begin to touch on how the future can be controlled by what and how children are taught.

    Jake Gittes: “Why are you doing it? How much better can you eat? What could you buy that you can’t already afford?”
    Noah Cross: ” The future, Mr. Gittes! The future.”

  45. Lotta,

    I thought you’d find this article interesting:

    The Symbiotic Relationship of Bill Gates, Arne Duncan and Pearson…and the Takeover of American Education
    December 6, 2011
    Missouri Education Watchdog

    Arne Duncan has embraced Bill Gates’ vision of education. Bill Gates has had a hand in crafting the common core standards and has provided grant money to advance the implementation in schools around the country. It doesn’t apparently matter to Arne Duncan these standards are unproven, untested and unconstitutional. It also apparently doesn’t matter that Mr. Gates’ previous dalliances into the education arena proved unsuccessful.

    Bill Gates has his vision and billions of dollars to start the wheels turning for common core and the data that accompanies the assessments critical to the common core plan. If he can get this implemented, his companies will make even more billions of dollars once the system is operational. He faces some hurdles such as changes in the law regarding student privacy, but Secretary Duncan is doing his best to relax privacy information the Department of Education can share with outside agencies and private companies.

    If Bill Gates has the vision and the money for his educational plans, and the Department of Education is acquiescing its unconstitutional authority to set educational mandates for the states, then who or what is developing the standards and assessments to be used in the Common Core standards? One company’s name keeps popping up and there is a direct involvement with Bill Gates: Pearson.

    What is Pearson? From its website:

    Pearson is the global leader in integrated education and technology publishing, offering educational products for children, schools, universities, adults, and corporations. To purchase any of these products online, please visit one of our e-commerce sites below.

    Like Bill Gates , Pearson operates a business (Pearson Textbooks) and a foundation (Pearson Foundation). With the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Pearson Foundation has had significant input into crafting the Common Core standards for public educated students. From May 2011:

    Two education foundations said Wednesday they are working to develop 24 new online reading and math courses that will be aligned with the common core national standards. The courses will be developed by the Pearson Foundation — associated with the major textbook company — and will include video, social media, games and other digital materials. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will provide $3 million for four of the courses to be offered free to schools. The initiative appears to be the most ambitious effort so far to align textbooks — online or otherwise — with the new standards and may position Pearson as a leader in the market.

    That last sentence says it all and folks who have been following this trail of Gates and Pearson taking over education have been joking that buying Pearson stock would be a wise bet and make you quite wealthy. The Gates and Pearson Foundations “donate” courses to schools, hook them into using them since they are aligned with the new assessments, and then the schools will have to pay for them in the future. It’s similar to unfunded mandates set forth by the Department of Education. The states and schools have to pay for the mandates from the Department of Education crafted by Bill Gates and Pearson.

  46. Common Core Corruption: Pearson Publishing Investigated for Payoffs
    By Bill Korach

    We recently did an article about a petition authored by Paul Horton, State Liaison Illinois Council for History Education, and History Instructor at the University High School The University of Chicago Laboratory Schools demanding an end to curriculum decisions made among Common Core, and Race to the Top power brokers in back rooms and out of public view. Mr. Horton is clearly committed to excellent educational standards and prefers to teach history from history books not textbooks.

    Mr. Horton stated:

    “The president of the College Board’s recent announcement that a new SAT will be created to measure Common Core Standards skills proficiency also alarms us. In addition, the Secretary of Education’s former press secretary has recently used the “revolving door” of public office to acquire a job with a company that is related to Pearson LLC.

    We demand transparency and public accountability for decisions that are being made on the above issues without open hearings or public debate on the influence of corporate lobbying and marketing at local, state, and federal levels. We strongly suspect the existence of quid pro quo understandings between the current Secretary of Education and Bill Gates, The Bill and Melina Gates Foundation, The College Board and David Coleman, The Educational Testing Service (ETS), and Pearson Education LLC that amount to collusion between a Federal Public servant(s) and corporate interests that appear to be working together to limit competition in an open marketplace.”

    A recent Pearson fully paid junket to Australia for school officials suggests that Mr. Hortons suspicion has supporting facts according to this January New York Times story:

    In the summer of 2010, Lu Young, the superintendent of schools in Jessamine County, a Lexington, Ky., suburb, took a trip to Australia paid for by the Pearson Foundation, a nonprofit arm of Pearson, the nation’s largest educational publisher. Ten school superintendents went on the trip, which cost Pearson $60,000. While the foundation described the visit as a way “to exchange ideas on creating schools for the 21st century,” there was ample time for play. “Everybody’s highlight of Canberra was to get to see the kangaroos,” Ms. Young said on a video produced by the foundation.

    Six months later, in Frankfort, Ky., Ms. Young sat on a committee interviewing executives from three companies bidding to run the state’s testing program. While CTB/McGraw-Hill submitted the lowest bid, by $2.5 million, Ms. Young and the other committee members recommended Pearson.

    In April, Kentucky’s Education Department approved a $57 million contract with Pearson. And then, over the next six months, the commissioner who oversees that department, Terry Holliday, traveled to both China and Brazil on trips underwritten by — that’s right — the Pearson Foundation.

    Last month, the attorney general, Eric T. Schneiderman, issued subpoenas to the Manhattan offices of the Pearson Foundation and Pearson Education. Mr. Schneiderman is looking into whether the nonprofit, tax-exempt foundation, which is prohibited by state law from undisclosed lobbying, was used to benefit Pearson Education, a profit-making company that publishes standardized tests, curriculums and textbooks, according to people familiar with the inquiry.

    Mark Nieker, president of the Pearson Foundation, wrote in an e-mail, “Our practice is not to comment about the existence of government investigations.” He added, “It just is not true that the Foundation’s support of conferences attended by education officials has the purpose of helping Pearson corporate to win contracts.”

  47. If There Remains Any Question
    MAY 01, 2011

    Let’s do some truly basic math.

    First, consider that Bill Gates, a billionaire whose wealth and success have been built on computer innovation and entrepreneurship, has been an education reformer for many years now–stretching back to a small schools focus:

    Bill Gates used to believe that one of the solutions to failing schools was to create smaller ones with 500 students or fewer. His foundation spent $1 billion toward this; seeing the opportunity to bring in private dollars, districts started shifting to smaller schools. Small schools became the big new trend. But then the foundation conducted a study that found that, by itself, school size had little if any effect on achievement. The foundation dropped the project and moved on to teacher reform, but by then some urban districts throughout the nation had changed to small–and more expensive to operate–schools.
    So the first formula is:

    Gates’ initiative + Gates funding = abandoned schools in the wake of failure (with no consequences for Gates)

    As the Los Angeles Times reports above, Gates is now focusing on teacher quality–including calls for teacher evaluations tied to test scores measuring student achievement against the common core standards.

    This suggests a new formula:

    Gates money + common core standards + testing industry = profit for Gates and testing industry at the expense of students, learning, and public education.

    If there remains any question if Gates should be driving education reform, if there remains any question why Gates is focusing on education, let me suggest there shouldn’t be.

    This formula is obvious, as reported by Education Week:

    The announcement today by the Pearson Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation marks yet another entry into the increasingly crowded marketplace of curriculum creation sparked by the common standards. All but six states have adopted those learning guidelines.
    In a conference call with reporters, officials from the Gates and the Pearson foundations said the project will create 24 courses: 11 in math, for grades K-10; and 13 in English/language arts, for grades K-12. Four of those courses will be available for free online through the Gates Foundation. The full 24-course system, with accompanying tools including assessments and professional development for teachers, would be available for purchase, likely through Pearson, the for-profit company that operates the Pearson Foundation, in New York City.

    Each course will serve as a 150-day curriculum and will harness technological advances such as social networking, animation, and gaming to better engage and motivate students, Judy B. Codding, the managing director of the Pearson Foundation, told reporters.

    The current and historical claims that public education is failing are more often than not political and corporate hyperbole that serves not to address education reform or to fulfill the promise of universal public education, but instead masks the political and corporate failures that allow swelling poverty among children and an ever-widening equity gap among the American public.

    If there remains any question about Gates, testing corporations, and politicians driving education reform, then whoever continues to wonder is simply ignoring why the wealthy and powerful invest their money and time. . .

  48. Rupert Murdoch Wins Contract to Develop Common Core Tests
    By Diane Ravitch
    March 17, 2013

    Amplify, the company owned by Rupert Murdoch, won a $12.5 million contract to develop formative assessments for Common Core tests. The award was made by the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, one of two groups funded by the Obama administration to create national tests, administered online. Joel Klein runs Murdoch’s Amplify division.

    When Murdoch purchased Wireless Generation in the fall of 2010, he said:

    “When it comes to K through 12 education, we see a $500 billion sector in the U.S. alone that is waiting desperately to be transformed by big breakthroughs that extend the reach of great teaching,” said News Corporation Chairman and CEO, Rupert Murdoch. “Wireless Generation is at the forefront of individualized, technology-based learning that is poised to revolutionize public education for a new generation of students.”

  49. Cuomo, Common Core and Pearson-for-Profit
    By Alan Singer, Social studies educator, Hofstra University
    Posted: 02/28/2012

    It will probably take more than a billion dollars in the bank to run for President of the United States in 2016. It looks like New York State Governor is already lining up corporate support. My concern is that he will sell out the education of New York State’s children to for-profit companies, particularly Pearson, to position himself for the run.

    Pearson is one of the most aggressive companies seeking to profit from what they and others euphemistically call educational reform, but which teachers from groups like Rethinking Schools and FairTest see as an effort to sell, sell, sell substandard remedial education programs seamlessly aligned with the high stakes standardized tests for students and teacher assessments they are also selling. Pearson reported revenues of approximately $9 billion in 2010 and generated approximately $3 billion on just digital revenues in 2011.

    If it has its way, Pearson will soon be determining what gets taught in schools across the United States with little or no parental or educational oversight. Pearson standardized exams will assess how well teachers implement Pearson instruction modules and Pearson’s common core standards, but not what students really learn or whether students are actually learning things that are important to know. Pearson is already creating teacher certification exams for eighteen states including New York, organizing staff development workshops to promote Pearson products, and providing school district Pearson assessment tools. In New York, Pearson Education currently has a five-year, $32 million contract to administer state test and provides other “testing services” to the State Education Department. It also recently received a share of a federal Race to the Top grant to create what the company calls the “next-generation” of online assessments.

    Pearson, which claims to be the “world’s leading learning company,” is in the process of designing mind-numbing “multimedia textbooks… designed for pre-schoolers, school students and learners of all ages” for use on Apple’s iPad so school systems will have more products to purchase instead of investing in quality teaching and instruction. In case you are not already worried about children seating dazed in front of computer screens for hours on end, Pearson promises its “respected learning content” will be “brought to life with video, audio, assessment, interactive images and 3D animations.”

    According to the New York Times, New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is “investigating whether the Pearson Foundation, the nonprofit arm of one of the nation’s largest educational publishers, acted improperly to influence state education officials by paying for overseas trips and other perks.” Since 2008, state education officials have been treated to trips to London, Helsinki, Finland, Singapore, and Rio de Janeiro.

  50. My View of the Common Core Standards
    By Diane Ravitch
    July 9, 2012

    I have neither endorsed nor rejected the Common Core national standards, for one simple reason: They are being rolled out in 45 states without a field trial anywhere. How can I say that I love them or like them or hate them when I don’t know how they will work when they reach the nation’s classrooms?

    In 2009, I went to an event sponsored by the Aspen Institute where Dane Linn, one of the project directors for developing the standards, described the process. I asked if they intended to pilot test them, and I did not get a “yes” answer. The standards were released early in 2010. By happenstance, I was invited to the White House to meet with the head of the President’s Domestic Policy Council, the President’s education advisor, and Rahm Emanuel. When asked what I thought of the standards, I suggested that they should be tried out in three or four or five states first, to work out the bugs. They were not interested.

    I have worked on state standards in various states. When the standards are written, no one knows how they will work until teachers take them and teach them. When you get feedback from teachers, you find out what works and what doesn’t work. You find out that some content or expectations are in the wrong grade level; some are too hard for that grade, and some are too easy. And some stuff just doesn’t work at all, and you take it out.

    The Common Core will be implemented in 45 states without that kind of trial. No one knows if they will raise expectations and achievement, whether they will have no effect, whether they will depress achievement, or whether they will be so rigorous that they increase the achievement gaps.

    Tom Loveless of the Brookings Institution thinks they won’t matter.

    The conservative Thomas B. Fordham Institute, which received large grants from the Gates Foundation to evaluate the standards and has supported them vigorously, estimates that the cost of implementing them will be between $1 billion and $8.3 billion. The conservative Pioneer Institute estimates that the cost of implementation would be about $16 billion, and suggests this figure is a “mid-range” estimate.

    The Gates Foundation, lest we forget, paid to develop the standards, paid to evaluate the standards, and is underwriting Pearson’s program to create online courses and resources for the standards, which will be sold by Pearson, for a profit, to schools across the nation.

    Of course, every textbook publisher now says that its products are aligned with the Common Core standards, and a bevy of consultants have come out of the woodwork to teach everyone how to teach them.

    In these times of austerity, I wonder how much money districts and states have available to implement the standards faithfully. I wonder how much money they will put into professional development. I wonder about the quality of the two new assessments that the U.S. Department of Education laid out $350 million for.

    These are things I wonder. But how can I possibly pass judgment until I find out how the standards work in real classrooms with real children and real teachers?

  51. Bill Gates’ Big Play: How Much Can Money Buy in Education?
    By Anthony Cody
    November 5, 2011

    What would happen if one of the wealthiest men in the world decided to remake the institution of public education in America? What if that man believed he understood the secrets to success, and sought to align the nation’s schools to his vision and methods? What if he decided to devote all his time and considerable money to this objective? Could he succeed? We are in the process of finding out just how far money and a sharply defined agenda can take you.

    Bill Gates’ first challenge was to define a vision. After experimenting with small schools, he discovered that this approach did not lead to consistently higher student performance. So he stepped back and said, OK, let’s figure out just what IS going to increase those test scores? This was the crucial decision that has determined all other steps that have followed. The purpose of schooling has been determined by the measurement that tells us if we have succeeded. Although Bill Gates would perceive this as a neutral objective, in fact it has created a driving agenda for school change. The agenda is this: To recraft the system so that it is just as relentlessly focused on test score improvement as any business is focused on making money.

    How does one go about making your own agenda everyone else’s?

    Bill Gates had a huge head start, in that No Child Left Behind had already set the wheels in motion. The idea that test scores are all that matter was already encoded into federal law and funding policies. The trouble is that law is punitive, cumbersome, illogical and bound to fail, by its own set of indicators. So we had to move beyond NCLB, and create a sustainable trajectory for test-driven reforms. This has been done in several ways.

    First, acknowledge that current tests are of limited value. We cannot abandon them because they are all we have, and we cannot ignore the data they give us, even though it is not all we might wish for. Develop a plan for a new generation of tests that will be clearly superior to existing tests. These new tests will be richer, and incorporate technology, and based on new quasi-national standards that are likewise superior. The Gates Foundation has been a huge supporter of the Common Core Standards, and is partnering with the Pearson Foundation to develop online reading and math courses aligned with the standards.

    It can’t hurt to have your high-level staff transfer over to working for the US Department of Education. And if lobbying rules would block this due to ethical considerations, simply get waivers.

    Bill Gates recently asserted:
    It may surprise you–it was certainly surprising to us–but the field of education doesn’t know very much at all about effective teaching.
    It does surprise me, because I am familiar with the amazing work done over the past two decades by educators who created the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. The National Board defined the highest level of teaching in line with all the things we value in a classroom. The standards include creating a strong classroom community that nurtures and supports all students. They include how well we meet the diverse needs of students from different cultures and linguistic backgrounds. The portfolios teachers assemble need to provide strong evidence that students are learning, including work samples that show how the teacher has challenged and guided the student. Now we see that the National Board faces tremendous pressure to include test score data as an important indicator of teacher quality.

    Research can lead the way. The Gates Foundation is going after its goals by investing in research that implicitly defines “effectiveness” as the ability to increase test scores. The studies have been in the works for years, and are now being released one after another. The way the research questions are posed, and the data is interpreted, allows you to control a great deal of the debate. For example, a recent study of charter schools came out, funded by the Gates Foundation, in which the key question posed focused on the “impact…on student outcomes,” as measured by test scores. Similarly, a huge project called Measures of Effective Teaching appears to define effectiveness primarily by looking at test score gains.

  52. Gates, In Alliance with Murdoch’s News Corp, Builds a New App for Corporate Education Reform?
    By Leonie Haimson

    On Aug. 3, Vicki Phillips of the the Gates Foundation announced the creation of an “amazing” new software program that will be like a “huge app store — just for teachers — with the Netflix and Facebook capabilities we love the most.”

    “There are few times in life when we are fortunate enough to be part of something amazing,” she wrote. “I believe this is one of those times, and I am especially excited because the ‘something amazing’ is being led by states.”

    Really? This was led by states, and not by the Gates Foundation? Hmm… we’ve heard that one before.

    The announcement continues:

    “As part of our contribution, the foundation took an important first step a few weeks ago and selected a vendor to build the open software that will allow states to access a shared, performance-driven marketplace of free and premium tools and content. That vendor, Wireless Generation, will create the software, but it will be owned by an independent nonprofit, so that any school, school district, curriculum developer, or tool builder can contribute to the collaborative.”

    Did it really have to be Wireless Generation?

    Already, Wireless Generation, owned by Rupert Murdoch and run by Joel Klein, has encountered much controversy, because of privacy concerns, among other issues, arising from the phone-hacking scandal in Great Britain. On Aug. 5 it was revealed that the teacher unions wrote a letter to the New York State Education Department, asking that the proposed no-bid contract with Wireless be withdrawn.

    Earlier I posted a column and a petition to state officials, expressing many of the same concerns — as well as the fact that ARIS, the $80-million data system that is the model for this new, statewide system, is widely considered to have been a huge waste of money.

    And now Gates is going to fund a nationwide data system with the same defects and potential risks?

    Dr. Ed Fuller urges us to note the words “free” and “content” above. So Wireless Generation and Murdoch are poised to make a buck off of this project — and the content they receive from teachers, who are expected to share their ideas free of charge?

  53. Fox in the Schoolhouse: Rupert Murdoch Wants to Teach Your Kids!
    News Corp.’s major move into the education business.
    —By Stephanie Mencimer
    Fri Sep. 23, 2011

    Rupert Murdoch’s reputation precedes him—but one thing he’s not well known for is his education reform advocacy. But that could soon change. Next month, Murdoch will make an unusual public appearance in San Francisco, delivering the keynote address at an education summit hosted by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who has lately been crisscrossing the country promoting his own version of education reform.

    The high-profile speech to a collection of conservative ed reformers, state legislators, and educators is just the latest step in Murdoch’s quiet march into the business of education, which has been somewhat eclipsed by the phone-hacking scandal besieging his media empire. (On Tuesday, word of Murdoch’s appearance at Bush’s conference came just hours after reports that News Corp. had agreed to pay more than $4 million to the family of a 13-year-old British murder victim, Milly Dowler, whose voicemail was hacked by reporters for Murdoch’s News of the World. ) But Murdoch has made it very clear that he views America’s public schools as a potential gold mine.

    “In every other part of life, someone who woke up after a 50-year nap would not recognize the world around him…But not in education,” he remarked in May during a speech at the “e-G8 forum” that preceded the G8 summit in France. “Our schools remain the last holdout from the digital revolution.”

    Last November, News Corp. dropped $360 million to buy Wireless Generation, a Brooklyn-based education technology company that provides software, assessment tools, and data services. “When it comes to K through 12 education, we see a $500 billion sector in the US alone that is waiting desperately to be transformed by big breakthroughs that extend the reach of great teaching,” Murdoch said at the time.

    A few weeks before the deal, News Corp. had hired one of the nation’s most prominent education figures, Joel Klein, away from his job as New York City schools chancellor. As it happens, Klein was already familiar with Wireless Generation, which began working with the New York City school system during his tenure.

    While Murdoch’s arrival to the education business is being cheered by Jeb Bush and other conservatives, the idea of the parent company of News of the World and Fox getting into the school biz hasn’t gone over well with the education establishment. Murdoch’s new venture has stirred controversy in New York, where this summer the state sought to enter into a $27 million contract with Wireless Generation to track student performance. Given Klein’s hiring, the deal prompted an outcry by teachers’ unions and other critics who saw the public school system becoming just another example of revolving-door politics and crony capitalism. (“They chose us because we’re good,” and not due to any connection to Klein, says Wireless Generation’s spokeswoman, Joan Lebow.)

    In early August, New York teachers’ unions demanded the state rescind its plans to contract with Wireless Generation. “It is especially troubling that Wireless Generation will be tasked with creating a centralized database for personal student information even as its parent company, News Corporation, stands accused of engaging in illegal news-gathering tactics,” representatives from the state and New York City teachers’ unions wrote.

    Wireless Generation had caused controversy even before Murdoch purchased the company. Last year, when New Jersey lost out on millions of federal education funding due to a screw-up on its grant application, the company landed at the center of the debacle. The state, after all, had reportedly paid the firm $500,000 to ensure the accuracy of its application, among other things.

  54. Looks like Rupert Murdoch will profit from “reform” of Chicago school system.

    It seems so odd that things like this can happen in our education system now. It just doesn’t seem to matter about that alleged illegal phone hacking his News Corp has been doing. I guess the rich and powerful often don’t have to be accountable to the rest of us.

    Rupert Murdoch is now profiting from the testing craziness hitting Chicago’s public schools.

    In case Chicago missed it, Rupert Murdoch is now profiting from the testing craziness hitting Chicago’s public schools. He owns an outfit called “Wireless Generation” that is now a contractor with CPS. Anyone who doesn’t already know that the administration of Chicago Public Schools, the nation’s third largest school system, is in the hands of amateurs (or worse, outsiders who want to destroy public education and turn it over to the private sector at all costs), should be contacting any of the 241 principals of the so-called “Track E” schools which begin receiving their students on August 13, 2012.

    Things have gotten so crazy in the 2012 world of edits, memos, Power Points, orders, reforms, re-reforms, and re-re-re-reforms from the administration of former Rochester school supt. Jean-Claude Brizard and former “Relationship Banker” Rahm Emanuel that it would take a team of a dozen investigative reporters on the ground school-by-school (with a backup team of another dozen researchers) to separate out the greed, mendacity, incompetence, and silliness that is being foisted on Chicago behind the smokescreen of the latest iteration of “School Reform.” Meanwhile, the city’s communities, teachers, principals, and children will be facing centrally planned chaos as the first full year of Rahm’s version of “School Reform” kicks in non Monday August 13, 2012. The 241 Chicago “Track E” schools would make this sub-system one of the 20 largest school districts in the USA were it a separate system. But it would be one of only three (the other two are Detroit and New Orleans) currently ruled by a group of outside mercenaries dedicated to destroying public education.

    Last year New York City to its credit stopped a contract that would have given Rupert Murdoch and his Wireless Generation 27 million dollars of Race to the Top money.
    NYC stopped a contract that would give Rupert Murdoch $27 million of Race to the Top funding.

    New York City ditched a $27 million education contract with News Corp subsidiary Wireless Generation, citing the ongoing investigations into the phone hacking allegations related to News Corp’s now-defunct News Of The World tabloid.

    State Controller Thomas DiNapoli rejected the Education Department’s contract with the company, the New York Daily News reports, which would have paid $27 million to create software to track test scores. The funding would have come out of the state’s $700 million “Race to the Top” education funds, but DiNapoli’s office said that there were concerns about News Corp’s “incomplete record” and about the ongoing scandal

    “In light of the significant ongoing investigations and continuing revelations with respect to News Corp., we are returning the contract with Wireless Generation unapproved,” wrote DiNapoli’s office of the decision.

    Wireless Generation will still be employed as a subcontractor by one of the companies that did get the bid for the NYC schools.

  55. The For-Profit Loophole with Nonprofit Charter Schools
    Written by Ruth McCambridge
    Friday, 18 January 2013
    Nonprofit Quarterly

    In Mississippi, the State Senate has passed a charter school bill but it has provided that charter schools may be run only by a nonprofit. The bill will now be taken up in the Mississippi House. The nonprofit restriction came about, in part, due to concerns from Parents for Public Schools, who noted that a 2013 study from the National Education Policy Center found that only 48.2 percent of for-profit charter schools met federal Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) benchmarks, whereas 56.4 percent of nonprofit charter schools met the benchmarks.

    In an editorial in the Clarion Ledger, Sam R. Hall argues, “While those numbers aren’t that far apart in my mind, the greater concern comes from whether or not for-profit corporations are more interested in a student’s education or shareholders’ bottom lines.” Where such restrictions exist in other states, however, they have often been circumvented when nonprofits have contracted out such core functions as management and curriculum development to for-profits.

    Writes Hall, “At the end of the day, if the intent of the law is to prevent for-profit corporations from running charter schools, then Mississippi should close the loophole like other states have done. Otherwise, lawmakers should not try to pull a fast one and say, ‘Look what we’re doing,’ when they know the loophole exists.” If Hall’s concerns about for-profit contractors play out in Mississippi as has occurred in some other states, the inclusion of the nonprofit mandate in the bill now before the Mississippi House may not amount to the protection against an overriding profit motive in education that advocates have expressed concern about.

    The NPQ Newswire has been following a diffuse but compelling thread of conversation regarding the quantifiably negative effects of a profit motive in healthcare cost and quality. Now we note that this same issue is active in conversations about charter schools, which we have also been following closely, particularly as a new ruling by the National Labor Relations Board adds questions to the debate as to whether charter schools are really “public” schools or not.

  56. Privatizing Public Schools: Big Firms Eyeing Profits From U.S. K-12 Market
    By Stephanie Simon
    Posted: 08/02/2012

    NEW YORK, Aug 1 (Reuters) – The investors gathered in a tony private club in Manhattan were eager to hear about the next big thing, and education consultant Rob Lytle was happy to oblige.

    Think about the upcoming rollout of new national academic standards for public schools, he urged the crowd. If they’re as rigorous as advertised, a huge number of schools will suddenly look really bad, their students testing way behind in reading and math. They’ll want help, quick. And private, for-profit vendors selling lesson plans, educational software and student assessments will be right there to provide it.

    “You start to see entire ecosystems of investment opportunity lining up,” said Lytle, a partner at The Parthenon Group, a Boston consulting firm. “It could get really, really big.”

    Indeed, investors of all stripes are beginning to sense big profit potential in public education.

    The K-12 market is tantalizingly huge: The U.S. spends more than $500 billion a year to educate kids from ages five through 18. The entire education sector, including college and mid-career training, represents nearly 9 percent of U.S. gross domestic product, more than the energy or technology sectors.

    Traditionally, public education has been a tough market for private firms to break into — fraught with politics, tangled in bureaucracy and fragmented into tens of thousands of individual schools and school districts from coast to coast.

    Now investors are signaling optimism that a golden moment has arrived. They’re pouring private equity and venture capital into scores of companies that aim to profit by taking over broad swaths of public education.

    TN: Tennessee Is Abandoning Public Education
    Diane Ravich’s Blog
    “Within 5 years TEA and all the locals will be relegated to cursory “remember whens” as the major population centers of the state no longer are in the business of educating their own children. Charters, vouchers and non-profits will have no union affiliates. This will bankrupt the state level organization and open the floodgates for private equity and hedge funds to capitalize off of public tax dollars.”

  58. Elaine: Thanks for the follow up on this profit driven mania. These profit-maximizing tactics point to a troubling conflict of interest that goes beyond the private delivery of education and the welfare of our children.. They raise a broader, more important question about the
    “CAPTURE” of the upcoming generation.: How much should we rely on the private sector to satisfy broad social needs when the very process of maximizing profits and balancing books are at ends with itself, not to mention with the fact that public and private (“partnerships”) are total contradictions. The confusion for the public is over tax bases more than over the educational process of public responsibility. The idea of “Vouchers” (ironically) is intrinsically socialism yet the so-called private sector chooses not to recognize that rationing and charters are pretty much the same thing…only it serves exclusive committee interests not the public at large. Charters are appearing for small town governments and democracy itself is insidiously being concentrated as the OWNERship class structure runs the business of harnessing society to its monetary measures of self sustaining interests. We may need to expand the debate and unite people with communication and truthful information that will finally convince them that the public interest is actually being sabotaged and subverted by a profit motive. A profit motive that consolidates power and influence in fewer and fewer hands, all rationalized as “economic” necessity. Economics are a measure not an end; and society must realize that it must measure economy not the other way around. Adding a profit motive (even as falsely presented as a tax reduction) will not put education in the hands of parents as they believe; nor will it sustain any reduction in actual costs. It is mere cost shifting, and “coupons” will eventually fail as middle class and lower class substitutes for real choices and real accessibility to competitive educational options. Costs and social services must be managed, but the charter agenda has never really been about costs from the beginning…its been about private control over privilege..

    From health to pensions to education, the United States can not afford to turn society itself over to private interests and call this a democratic process. Look at the “retribution” in Chicago:; where [excerpt]:
    “Citing budget concerns and falling enrollment, Chicago Public Schools officials announced Thursday they plan to close 54 schools next year and shut down 61 school buildings — the largest single wave of school closures in U.S. history.

    For months, looming closures seemed inevitable. After a teachers union strike last fall concluded with an expensive contract, observers were left without a doubt that the only way the cash-strapped district could afford it was to shut down schools and fire the teachers who worked there.

    Since the September strike, Chicago hired a new CEO for its schools, Barbara Byrd-Bennett, a veteran of closures in cities like Detroit. The district held hearings with parents about the fates of their children. Rumors flew about how many and which schools would be axed, with some predicting as many as 129 could close.

    On Thursday, news of the final closure list began to trickle out. The day had come, a week before the district’s April 1 deadline. Byrd-Bennett announced on local television that CPS would close 54 elementary schools, name six for “turnarounds” and send 11 schools to share buildings with others.

    As the news dribbled in through aldermen and school officials themselves earlier Thursday, many angry Chicagoans were searching for Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Barack Obama’s former chief of staff, who waged his mayoral campaign on promises of education reform. DNAInfo Chicago reported Emanuel was on vacation with his family.”

    Meanwhile: The privatization watch noted:(link @ the previous entry)

    “IN: Common Core will hurt students, teachers – Opinion. As out-of-state investors and pro- privatization education interest groups pour into our state with their deep pockets to advocate through media advertisements in favor of Common Core State standards, it would seem the practitioners commissioned to implement them should be consulted as well. As a teacher of 22 years in our public schools, concerns exist with the newest “fad” to sweep the nation.
    Indianapolis Star
    Julian Smith (author) rightly states that “…Common Core is a shift away from educating children toward training them for the workforce. Big business thinks it would be cheaper, and more beneficial to them, to apply a factory-style approach to our schools. They do not understand that children are not widgets.

    One doesn’t have to dig too deep to realize that Common Core is one more colossal bad idea with personal individual as well as national implications and unintended adverse consequences.”

  59. Proper crediting for above: (full article)
    Chicago School Closings: District Plans To Shutter 54 Schools
    Posted: 03/21/2013 7:27 pm EDT | Updated: 03/21/2013 7:36 pm EDT
    by Kim Bellware

    Chicago District To Shutter 54 Schools, Largest Number In U.S. History..
    Communities On Edge Awaited Long-Delayed Announcement

    Comments (609)
    | Education

    A Citizens Guide to Adopting Commercial-Free School Board Policies In Your Community

    The Goal: Making Every Public School District A Commercial-Free Zone
    The Center for Commercial Free Public Education is a nonprofit public education advocacy organization that addresses the issue of commercialism in our public schools. The Center provides support to students, parents, teachers, school board members and other concerned citizens organizing across the U.S. to keep their schools commercial-free and community-controlled. By providing our constituents with the information and the skills that they need to have a voice in the running of their schools, we facilitate leadership development and democratic participation at the local level.” (more):

    ” For more detailed information, contact the Center for Commercial Free Public Education at 510-268-1100, or log on to our website:”

    (Worth reading in full: perhaps with a degree of skepticism?)
    Henry Levin heads the self titled “National Center for the Study of Privatization in Education”. at Columbia University (Teachers college). His interview is insightful with his introduction to his own background excerpted here::

    “I have been interested in the issues of privatization since 1963 when I took a course in public finance (my Ph.D. is in Economics) and I read Milton Friedman’s famous article on “The Role of the State in Education”. I wrote my first article on the subject in 1968 in The Urban Review, “The Failure of the Public Schools and the Free Market Remedy.” This was not a promotional article, but one which raised a set of questions that needed to be considered including a call for an experiment in an inner city. In 1971 the Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO) responded with its plans for a voucher experiment and the formulation of the Jencks plan, a plan that was never implemented with vouchers, but led to the school choice plan in San Jose, California called Alum Rock. Fast forwarding, when I took early retirement from Stanford University to go to Teachers College, Columbia University, I decided to start a center that would be balanced on the issues of privatization in neither advocating for or against, but simply studying the phenomenon.”

    While foundation (Ford Foundation and others) supports finance the “Center” Levin’s “objectives” are purported to be non-promotional but a good deal of the work produced by the Center appears supportive and “objectively” constructive (subjectively cautious but certainly not critical at any depth).

    In other “News” from Education, meanwhile, Published:October 5, 2004
    Privatization of Public Education

    certain reviews have noted his presence within the arena of for profit educational transitions:

    “Opponents, however, see the pressure for profit replacing student achievement as the driving force within schools. They see individual needs—particularly those of children with special, costly requirements—being sacrificed to the needs of corporate shareholders. They fear that school districts won’t be nearly vigilant enough in monitoring companies’ performance. And, foes note, private managers can be as inefficient and incompetent as public ones.

    In what some call the “second wave” of the charter school movement, for-profit management companies have taken over the operation of charter schools. According to EduVentures, a Boston consulting firm that has tracked the rise of the education industry, roughly 10 percent of the estimated 1,200 charter schools in 1999 were managed by for-profit companies. One successful private manager of charter schools is the Tesseract Group Inc., formerly Education Alternatives Inc. Private companies’ entry into the charter school arena raises tough questions: Should taxpayer dollars intended for schools be permitted to generate a private profit, even if the company produces positive student results? Does the involvement of private companies defy the traditionally grassroots nature of charter schools? The education research community, too, is taking note of the increased private focus on public education. Henry Levin, a noted education researcher and economist, moved in April 1999 from Stanford University to Columbia University, where he will direct the new National Center for the Study of Privatization in Education. Mr. Levin hopes to conduct neutral research, without any political pull from conservatives or liberals, on the impact of privatization to advance the debate about vouchers, charter schools, and private companies in education.”

    The links in the previous posting (#1) is edited by Henry Levin and published under the auspices of his Center at Columbia. The actual article is co-written by J. Scott who is on the Faculty at Berkeley. The (#2) link is a list of her papers and are worth reviewing.

    Managerialism and Education [Excerpt]

    Patrick Fitzsimons
    University of Auckland

    One of the features of contemporary Western society is the tendency under neoliberal philosophy to define social, economic, and political issues, as problems to be resolved through management. Under neoliberalism there is also a generalised governmental concern to promote efficiency in what were previously non-governmental spheres—i.e., in self constitution—and that includes redefining the cultural as the economic. During recent decades, these developments have been associated with the introduction of managerialism as a new mode of governance under the restructured public sectors of many Western societies. The restructuring has involved the reform of education in which there has been a significant shift away from an emphasis on administration and policy to an emphasis on management. This form of managerialism is known as New Public Management (NPM) and has been very influential in the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand. It has been used both as the legitimating basis and instrumental means for redesigning state educational bureaucracies, educational institutions and even the public policy process.

    Under NPM, there is an elaboration of explicit standards and measures of performance in quantitative terms that set specific targets for personnel, an emphasis on economic rewards and sanctions, and a reconstruction of accountability relationships. It promotes a reduction in scope for ministerial discretion in the administration of government agencies, it separates the funding agencies from providers of services as well as separating advisory, delivery, and regulatory functions. NPM introduces accrual accounting, capital charging and a distinction between the state’s ownership and purchasing interests. There has been a decentralization of management control towards what is often referred to as the doctrine of self-management. In the interests of so-called productive efficiency then, the provision of educational services has been made contestable; and, in the interests of so-called allocative efficiency, state education has been marketised and privatised.

    Outbreak of ‘new managerialism’ infects faculties

    20 July 2001

    “New managerialism” is emerging as a dominant force in British higher education, according to a two-year study into the running of universities.

    A team led by Rosemary Deem, professor of education at Bristol University, has conducted interviews with more than 150 senior academics and administrators from 16 universities and held focus group discussions in a bid to understand what is happening.

    “New managerialism” usually refers to practices commonplace in the private sector, particularly the imposition of a powerful management body that overrides professional skills and knowledge. It keeps discipline under tight control and is driven by efficiency, external accountability and monitoring, and an emphasis on standards.

    Higher education, with declining public funding, the shift from an elite to a mass system, and the increasing reliance on internal and external controls, is a fertile breeding ground for these practices.

    “The imposition of new managerialism has been much studied in public services from health to local government and schools but has been little examined in higher education,” Professor Deem said.

  64. Privatization of Public Education
    United Church of Christ

    In the United States, we have prided ourselves for generations on a system of public education that has been envied by nations all over the world. Public schools are publicly funded, universally available, and accountable to the public. Today there are myriad attacks on the public in public education.

    The questions we must ask when private alternatives are promoted are whether the market has a greater interest in serving the poorest and most vulnerable children and what all children and our society have to lose or gain if we privatize all or part of the vast institution of public education. We in the churches have advocated for a long, long time to make public schools more equitable. Because they are public institutions, we have been able to do that.

    The UCC’s General Synod has recognized that allocation of scarce public dollars is a primary concern. Unless significant additional tax funds can be generated, schools which are publicly funded but privately operated drain funding from the public school districts that are expected to continue to provide the full range of services for children, including services for students like those with special needs and English language learners, who require expensive special services. General Synod 15 declared, “We defend the right of parents to choose alternative, private, religious, or independent schools, but continue to declare that those schools should be funded by private sources of income.” In a Resolution for the Common Good, General Synod 25 affirmed “the role of public institutions paid for by taxes for ensuring essential services and protecting the good of the wider community.” Today some privatized schools are not-for profit, but many are making a profit for owners or shareholders from public tax dollars.

    There are also serious concerns about the loss of public purpose and public control. When schools are privatized, what is the government’s moral and fiscal responsibility to the students remaining in the neighborhood public shcools? What should the federal government and state governments do to improve the regulation of charter schools?

  65. ALEC Education Bill Hides Privatization Behind a Reading Skills Disguise
    Mar. 18th, 2013

    Over the last few years, a piece of school reform legislation ostensibly designed to improve the educational experience of public school students, has been making the rounds of 14 state legislatures and the city of Washington DC. A South Carolina version has just been introduced and Mississippi is awaiting concurrence. Ohio Governor John Kasich signed HB 555 “The Ohio School Report Card Bill” late last year. A major component of virtually all the bills is something called the “Third Grade Reading Guarantee.” I couldn’t find a word in the Ohio bill about its application to private schools.

    Many of the bills are chock-full of other education esoterica, most of which comes from model legislation written by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) with the Jeb Bush Foundation for Excellence in Education (FEE) joined at the ALEC hip over right-wing efforts to establish impossible norms and imperatives for public schools thereby forcing these taxpayer-funded centers of learning to spend time and money unnecessarily. Money that red state legislatures have made sure is in precipitous decline.

  66. (Open thanks to Privatization Watch @
    March 26, 2013

    NJ: Gov. Announces Privatizing Scheme For Camden City Schools
    Governor Chris Christie has announced a state takeover of the Camden school system to force privatization programs. The privatization program had been stymied by residents and their local representatives who did not want to lose their public school system. Now privatization advocates have been able to go around local authorities and have the Governor hand them power. Firedoglake

  67. More… “Politi-sizing” market revenue-stream capture: or; “government sponsored managerialism” …. which came 1st…the money or the rigging?

    (Privatization Watch):
    FL: Lawmakers grapple with future of special needs students. A provision that would allow parents to contract with private therapists during school hours is also drawing ire; some observers see it as an attempt to further the school-privatization agenda. “This usurps the power of the schools at the most basic level,” said Kathleen Oropeza, of the Orlando-based parent group, Fund Education Now. “Can you imagine a class of 15 [special-education] kids with 15 hired consultants in the classroom?” Miami Herald

    “The bill is on a fast track. Its Senate sponsors are Gardiner, a future Senate president; and Sen. John Thrasher, R-St. Augustine, a former House speaker. Both have a personal connection to the proposed legislation; Gardiner’s son, Andy, has Down syndrome, as does Thrasher’s grandson, Mason.

    The bill also has the support of the influential Foundation for Florida’s Future. The education non-profit established by former Gov. Jeb Bush lists “empowering parents” among its top priorities for the session.”

    2013 Legislature
    “Lawmakers grapple with future of special needs students”


    Read more here:

    Read more here:

  68. (Privatization Watch: recent archives)

    Privatization or Public Education?

    Helen Ladd and her husband Edward Fiske are distinguished observers of American Education. Ladd is a Professor of Economics at Duke University. Fiske was education editor of the anew York Times. Together they describe a fork in the road for our nation’s public school system. Will we continue towards free-market privatization or will we revitalize public education? This is what they see ahead as the risks in the privatization agenda. DianeRavitchBlog

    “the risks in the privatization agenda:

    “First, it severs the connection between public schools and the civic purposes for which they were established and that justify the use of taxpayer dollars to fund them. Implicit in this vision is the notion that the benefits of education accrue first and foremost to individuals and that public benefits are simply the sum of private ones.

    “Second, it rejects the notion of an education system. Those who view education primarily as a collection of independent schools serving private interests have few incentives to assure that multiple stakeholders — students, teachers, administrators, policy makers, the business community and others — work together through democratic institutions in pursuit of common goals.

    “Third, the private education vision leaves little room for principles of social justice and the commitment to equal educational opportunity for all children. By emphasizing privatization and competition rather than community and cooperation, it trivializes the whole notion of “public” education. Nor does it take responsibility for addressing the special challenges that disadvantaged children bring with them when they walk through the schoolhouse door.”


  69. The Royal Scam
    By Charles P. Pierce
    Mar 27, 2013

    Is there any more obvious grifting going on than what is going on under the aegis of the school “reform” movement? I mean, I’m not even unalterably opposed to the concept of charter schools in theory, but even that part of the movement is shot through with cronyism, nepotism, and political jiggery-pokery that would embarrass a governor’s councilor here in the Commomwealth (God save it!). In Florida, the charter schools are grasping for public money with both fists. They seem to be, ahem, well-situated to do so,

    “How successful will the charter school lobby be this year? Charter advocates have several factors working in their favor. Both Weatherford and Sen. President Don Gaetz, both Republicans, are strong supporters, and have placed other advocates in key leadership roles. A growing number of lawmakers have personal ties to charter schools. Sen. John Legg, who chairs the Senate Education Committee, is co-founder and business administrator of Dayspring Academy in Port Richey. Anne Corcoran, wife of future House Speaker Richard Corcoran, plans to open a classics-themed charter school in Pasco County. House Budget Chairman Seth McKeel is on the board of the McKeel Academy Schools in Polk County. In addition, the brother-in-law of House Education Appropriations Chairman Erik Fresen runs the state’s largest charter management firm, Academica Corp. And Sen. Anitere Flores, also of Miami, is the president of an Academica-managed charter college in Doral.”

    Indeed, the most important thing in educational “reform” is to get the politics out of the way for the good of “the kids.”

  70. Editorial: Stop the giveaway to charter schools
    Tampa Bay Times
    Monday, March 25, 2013

    Once again legislators are looking for ways to undermine Florida’s public school system by giving more taxpayer dollars and freebies to charter schools, including those run by for-profit management companies. At a time when school district budgets remain squeezed for cash, two House bills would give charter schools more opportunities while undercutting traditional public schools where most Florida students attend. Public schools are bought with public money, and they should not be given away to schools operated by private interests.

    The bills would turn on its head the notion of charters as alternative schools with considerable autonomy in exchange for less district support. Instead of being outside the system, charter schools would gain favored status yet still lack taxpayer accountability. One bill, HB 7009, would require districts to give unused school space to charters for free, or only for maintenance costs. And HB 1267 would guarantee that charters receive about $1,200 per elementary student — and more for high school students — for construction and maintenance from general revenue dollars when the Legislature has now failed for two years to invest construction and renovation dollars for public schools.

    The Legislature should end its fixation with charter schools as the answer to all that ails Florida’s school performance. Some charter schools are successful, but many aren’t. Stanley D. Smith, a professor of finance at the University of Central Florida, has done an analysis, controlling for poverty and minority characteristics of elementary schools, that shows “we should question the state’s increasing emphasis on charter schools because as a group they underperform traditional public schools.” He also studied high school test scores and, using the same methodology, found that charters and traditional schools performed the same.

    If a charter wants to use an old public school property, it should do what is happening in Pinellas County. University Preparatory Academy, a charter school, is negotiating with the Pinellas School Board to buy the former home of Southside Fundamental Middle School in St. Petersburg’s Midtown neighborhood. If the two parties work out a deal based on fair market values, both sides win.

    The Senate still has time to get this right. Education Committee Chairman John Legg, R-Lutz, should understand the conflict better than most lawmakers when it comes to the difference between public schools heavily regulated by the Legislature and charters. He is the co-founder and business administrator of Dayspring Academy, a 12-year-old nonprofit charter in Port Richey. As a legislator, he has a responsibility to ensure that public schools are adequately financed. An open spigot to less-regulated charters — when public schools have been shortchanged — is not in his constituents’ interests.

    Gov. Rick Scott, with his newfound interest for public education and teachers, should tell legislative leaders that traditional public schools must come first and that charter schools, while they are here to stay, should not be getting guaranteed tax dollars every year to build and maintain schools that are run by people who don’t answer directly to the voters.

  71. Governor proposes legal defense fund for charter school board
    By Steve Mistler
    Morning Sentinel (Maine)

    AUGUSTA — Gov. Paul LePage plans to shift $1 million from public education funding to pay for legal defense for the board that authorizes charter schools. The plan is meeting resistance from public school advocates and the state’s top lawyer.

    The proposal, part of the governor’s $6.3 billion budget for the two years starting July 1, was highlighted during a recent hearing by the Legislature’s budget-writing committee. It would divert money from the state fund that distributes aid to school districts to a “legal contingency” fund for the Maine Charter School Commission and the Department of Education.

    The organization that represents public school boards questioned why the legal fund is necessary when the state Attorney General’s Office typically represents state agencies in legal matters.

    “I think it’s outrageous that they would take $1 million off the top of General Purpose Aid and identify it as a legal defense fund for charter schools,” said Cornelia Brown, executive director of the Maine School Management Association. “It just begs a big question as to why you’d need such a sizable legal defense fund, especially when you have in-house counsel provided by the AG’s office.”

  72. ALEC-Backed Laws Promote Controversial Charter Schools
    by Matthew Charles Cardinale
    Wednesday, February 27, 2013
    Inter Press Service

    ATLANTA, Georgia, Feb 27 (IPS) – The right-wing American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and private education management firms are pushing for new “parent trigger” laws in states across the U.S. by lobbying many Republican and some Democratic legislators to make it easier to convert more traditional public schools to charter schools…

    Charter schools are the latest scheme to privatise public education in the U.S., and are seen as more politically feasible than “voucher” proposals that would give students vouchers to purchase private schooling.

    Many charter schools are operated by for-profit educational management firms, which receive sometimes lucrative contracts to operate the schools.

    Critics note that one consequence of this is to shift teachers and other school employees away from being public sector, unionised workers who receive decent pay and benefits and who have some job protections, to being private, non-unionised workers who may not receive the same pay, benefits, and protections.

    In recent years there has been increasing conversion of U.S. public schools to charter schools, as new charter schools have opened and traditional public schools have closed.

    For example, Atlanta recently closed several public schools due to under-enrollment of students. However, the decrease in the student population of those schools was caused largely by the transfer of many students to new, nearby charter schools.

    After Hurricane Katrina, pro-charter school advocates capitalised on the crisis to convert most of the schools in the Orleans Parish School System to charter schools.

    The parent trigger legislation being pushed by ALEC and other pro-charter lobbyists creates a petition process, whereby a majority of dissatisfied parents at a school could force the school to take one of several actions. Often the preferred action is to convert to a charter school to be managed by a private company.

    Another type of legislation being pushed by ALEC is to create a statewide charter school commission that could override the decisions of local school boards. Such a commission has been established in Georgia.

    As of June 2012, seven U.S. states had enacted parent trigger legislation, beginning with California in 2010, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The other six states are Connecticut, Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, Ohio, and Texas.

    In California, a group called Parent Revolution was founded with more than one million dollars from foundations like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Walton Family Foundation to push for the parent trigger law.

    “An integral part of improving education in Georgia is greater parent buy-in to their children’s education. The parent trigger proposal will assist parents with this,” State Rep. Ed Lindsey, a Republican from Atlanta, said in a statement.

    According to Rogers, however, Parent Revolution has not been so revolutionary.

    “The approach taken by Parent Revolution has been to send in paid organisers to local communities to try to gather parent petitions. Once the trigger is pulled so to speak – that is an unfortunate metaphor, I would add – and the traditional public school changes over to a charter school, parents arguably have less power than they did before,” Rogers told IPS.

    That is because once the school system enters into a contract with the charter school, the school system – and the parents and students – are bound to the terms of the charter.


    Published on Wednesday, March 27, 2013 by Common Dreams
    Chicago Public Schools Barricades Offices as Teachers Rally Against School Closings
    Vowing acts of civil disobedience, teachers, parents and students fight back against plan to close more than 50 city schools
    – Jon Queally, staff writer

    CTU president Karen Lewis:
    “”No society that claims to care anything about its children can sit back and allow this to happen to them,” she continued. “There is no way people of conscience will stand by and allow these people to shut down nearly a third of our school district without putting up a fight.”

    Writing at The Guardian on Wednesday, Chicago-based writer Micah Uetricht described the what’s happening in Chicago as the epitome of “slash-and-burn free market education reform.”
    “The school reformers peddling neoliberal snake oil, promising the healing benefits of privatizing the country’s public school system, are undoubtedly watching Chicago very closely, looking for strategies to export to other cities. But the teachers and communities sure to be devastated by such policies should pay attention, too, as free market education policies spread from New Orleans and Detroit to Philadelphia and beyond, they might glean some useful lessons for resistance.”


  74. Gene,

    “That last story out of Maine really reeks of corporate welfare.”

    I hope LePage is a one-term governor–and that the voters realize the mistake they made when they elected him. Maine is a great state. It’s one of my favorite places in the world. We vacation there every summer–have for many years.


    By Danny Weil on March 21, 2010 7:44 pm / 16 comments
    “As the privatization of education moves with unprecedented zeal, under the blind eyes of the nation’s corporate media, more and more one can begin to see the ideological threats to American students and American social culture. As Texas wrangles with new textbooks that substitute John Calvin for Thomas Jefferson, many corporate charter chains are now using unbridled tactics to demand “loyalty oaths” from our nation’s students. Indoctrination of students into a system of economic mendacity must begin early in order to leave a lasting impression. The billionaire ‘boyz’ club, made up of Bill Gates, Eli Broad, Reed Hastings (NetFlix), The Fisher Family (The Gap), The Walton Family and countless more pirates that mask their true intentions in philanthropic clothes know this. They also know that their “philanthropic” posturing is being uncovered for what it truly is: a grimy ‘smash and grab’ privatization of education through neo-liberal economics.”

  76. Published on Jun 3, 2012

    Danny Weil, a charter education expert, journalist, former public policy lawyer and activist discusses Governor Brown’s so called “compromise” tax initiative and what it will really mean for public education. He calls it a subsidy for charters that will help further privatization of all public education in California. He also discusses the role of the NEA, AFT, and CFT in “lacing” themselves with money from privatizers such as the Bill an Melinda Gates Foundation and other “non-profit” foundations. Weil is also author of “Vouchers and Privatization of Education” and “Charter School Movement” The presentation was made in Berkeley, California on June 2, 2012

    “A Subsidy For Charters” Brown’s Tax Initiative “Compromise” Pushes Privatization

  77. Bruce,

    Here’s something I found a while ago when I was doing research for one of my posts;

    Question criticized as charter-school ‘propaganda’ pulled from CPS tests
    by ROSALIND ROSSI Education Reporter May 25, 2012

    A national testing company has ash-canned a reading passage that critics say subjected a captive audience of Chicago Public School children to pro-charter-school “brainwashing.’’

    The Scantron Corporation took action this month after the head of Chicago’s Parents United for Responsible Education demanded the company drop the passage and apologize to what could be thousands of Chicago students she said were forced to read it this school year and last.

    PURE executive director Julie Woestehoff said the passage, titled “Reforming Education: Charter Schooling,’’ is so one-sidedly pro-charter that its use amounts to an attempt to “brainwash’’ children “with propaganda about charter schools.’’

    “Students taking a test should not be subjected to false claims about charter schools which could cause them to feel humiliated, second-class or dumb because they do not attend a `better’ charter school,” Woestehoff said in a May 9 email of protest to Scantron.

    Written in non-fiction style, with pie charts and bullet points, the passage flatly states that charter schools are “showing improvements in student achievement,” even though several studies point to mixed results. In Chicago, charters have ignited pockets of fierce resistance.

    The passage also states that the children of a “multimillionaire,’’ named “Charles Mendel,” attend a charter school because Mendel “believes that charter schools deliver the highest quality education.’’

  78. Thanks Elaine; This is a very special area that where “neo-confidence” strategies and tactics reverse and “capture” the language.

    Uploaded on Feb 5, 2012

    “Adam Bessie, professor at Diablo Valley College and media expert on education and privatization looks at how the billionaires and their corporate media agenda shape the debate around education and privatization.
    This was presented at a conference titled The Attack On Public Education and Privatization which was sponsored by United Public Workers For Action”

  79. Bonus:
    Dr. Diane Ravitch On Public Education, Privatization and Professionalization
    Uploaded on Jan 21, 2012

    Dr. Diane Ravitch, educator and historian gave a presentation in San Francisco
    on Public Education, Privatization And Deprofessionalization on January 20, 2012. She provides an overview of the the corporate “reforms” being introduced into the education system in the United States and how these policies are undermining not only public education but the entire education process. She outlines the billion dollar non-profit corporations such as the Gates Foundation, Broad Foundation, Walton Foundation and Wall Street who are pushing this privatization of education. She discusses “No Child Left Behind” and “Race To The Top” and the ideology and logic of these policies. According to Dr. Ravitch this is also being pushed by President Obama’s secretaryof Education Arne Duncan.

    The video also includes the question and answer period. This presentation was sponsored bythe California Teachers Association and the California Federation of Teachers.
    Production of KPFA WorkWeek Radio.

  80. Published on Aug 5, 2012

    “Who Is Behind The Privatization Of Education: Education, Privatization, Bill Gates, Broad, KIPP, Pearson, EdWest And The Gulen Schools.
    A massive national and international organized plan to privatize education has been implemented over several decades. Billionaires, such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Broad Foundation and the Pearson corporation among others, have infiltrated hundreds of governmental bodies including school boards, city councils and our local, state and regional governments. They seek to turn our education system into a profit center worth tens of billions of dollars. This also includes the Gulen Islamic cult led by Imam Fethullah Gulen, which runs the largest chain of charters in the United States funded by public money. We will also look at the criminal conflicts that have allowed politicians to personally benefit from using their public positions to profit from their votes and actions. This forum will look at how this has come about, who did it, how it is affecting us and who is profiting from it at the cost of public education and finally how to stop this attack on our public education system.”

  81. (This has been posted at Eliaine’s previous article:
    A Look at Some of the Driving Forces behind the School Reform Movement and the Effort to Privatize Public Education
    …but it is worth a second posting…it is That GOOD!)
    The Corporate Privatization Raiders Destroying Public Education & Our Unions by Danny Weil
    Published on Jan 21, 2013
    Danny Weil is a teacher, author and journalist who is an expert on privatization and charters.He writes for “Truth Out” “Daily Censored” and other publications. At an education conference on Privatization of Public Education and the Unions in San Francisco he discusses the corporate financialization of public education and and how this is destroying the public education in the United States along with the role of the education unions in confronting this frontal attack on public education.
    The presentation was made on January 19, 2012 and was sponsored by United Public Workers For Action with the title “Public Education, Privatization and The NEA/CTA, SEIU and AFT/CFT and What Can Education Workers, Students & Parents Do To Defend Public Education?”.
    Production of United Public Workers For Action”


    ME: Editorial: Inflating schools’ woes eases path to privatization. Gov. Paul LePage’s education reform conference in Augusta last week made one thing clear: The governor is less interested in improving public schools than in replacing them. They would still be public in the sense that they would be financed with the public’s money, but the education would be delivered outside what most people consider public school systems. Morning Sentinel
    IL: Chicago’s Unfair School Closings Will Gut Remaining Supports for Kids. This is about privatizing of one of the last few public assets in America: public education. Advocates of privatization have grabbed up just about every public institution imaginable: electric and telephone utilities, parks, housing, even our highways. Now we are witnessing an overt effort by players like the Walton Family Foundation — the wealthy heirs of Walmart’s founder — to hand over public schools to the private sector. Huffington Post

    NC: North Carolina Considers ALEC Model Bill to Privatize Schools. Now that North Carolina is completely in the control of Republicans, the state is moving forward with ALEC model legislation intended to remove public oversight from charter schools. This is the next step toward full privatization of the public school system in North Carolina, with a goal to move toward this model nationwide. Crooks and Liars

  83. bootshaus mannheim – cafe restaurant events: lp geburtstag
    Don’t know what that means. Guess you’ll have to figure it out for yourself.

  84. Elaine-and-company. What an amazing treasure trove of links you have compiled here. That alone is astonishing. But of course its content is more so still. I wish I had a well to read through your meanderings. Thanks for the great article and compilation for future reference.

  85. Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement
    and the Danger to America’s Public Schools
    by Diane Ravitch (Author)
    “Public education is becoming big business as bankers, hedge-fund managers and private-equity investors are entering what they consider to be an “emerging market.” As Rupert Murdoch put it after purchasing an education technology company, “When it comes to K through 12 education, we see a $500 billion sector in the US alone.”
    Education historian Diane Ravitch says the privatization of public education has to stop.”
    Diane Ravitch is America’s preeminent historian of public education. Her newest book is Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America’s Public Schools.
    Watch the full show.
    (with full transcript)

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