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. (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”

  2. 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.”

  3. 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.

  4. 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”

  5. 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.’’

  6. 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

  7. 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.


    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.”


  9. 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.


      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.”

  10. 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.”

  11. 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.

  12. 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.”

  13. (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.”


  14. 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:

  15. 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.

    1. (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

  16. 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?

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