Archives for category: Education Industry

When we think of the phrase “the American dream,” we think about a belief that everyone has a fair chance to better themselves, to get a free education, to land a job that provides them the means to be self-supporting and live in a good home. Behind the phrase is an assumption of fairness and opportunity, of earning good wages for your work and knowing you can take care of yourself, your family, and your old age.

That “dream” is slipping away. To understand why, read this important essay-review by economist Robert Kuttner in the “Néw York Review of Books.” It is a review of two books that helps explain the profound transformation of work in our time.

One of the books is by David Weil: “The Fissured Workplace: Why Work Became So Bad For So Many and What Can Be Done to Improve It.” The other is by Eileen Appelbaum and Rosemary Batt: “Private Equity at Work: When Wall Street Manages Main Street.”

Kuttner describes a new system in which employers outsource work to contractors, keeping a close watch on the quality of the product but taking little or no responsibility for salaries and working conditions. He gives two examples for starters: the treatment of workers building NYU’s satellite campus in Abu Dhabi, and the factory fire in Bangladesh that killed more than. 1,100 workers producing luxury items for wealthy consumers.

 

Kuttner writes:

 

“The same system of outsourced employment increasingly operates at home. In the past generation, there has been a drastic change in how work is organized. Regular payroll employment is becoming the exception. The employer of record is no longer the corporation, but a web of intermediaries. The outside contractor demands stringent worker performance, even as it drives down wages, job security, and benefits….

 

“This system, which began in peripheral occupations such as janitors or security guards, has become pervasive. FedEx workers wear the company’s uniforms, drive its trucks, and adhere to stringent rules; but they are independent contractors, not company employees. At many leading hotels, room cleaners and desk clerks actually work for management companies, not for Marriott or Hilton. The technician sent by Comcast to fix your cable may well be a freelancer, not an employee. When you go into a government building, the receptionist/guard is likely not a civil servant, but the low-wage hire of a security firm.”

 

At this point, the rest of the essay unfortunately goes behind a paywall. You might find it worthwhile to subscribe (a one-week online subscription is only $4.99). I have the print edition, and I will quote a bit more.

 

“The new system frees corporations from the obligations of a tacit social compact in which employees’ loyalty is reciprocated, companies have an incentive to invest in workers, and people can look forward to predictable careers. Moreover, the entire structure of workers protections and benefits legislated beginning in the New Deal is predicated on the assumption that the employee is on the payroll of the company that makes the product. A casual worker has fewer rights, and those that carry over are harder to enforce. A contract workers or temp pays his or her own Social Security taxes, can seldom collect unemployment compensation, rarely receives company-provided health insurance or pension benefits, and has scant opportunity to organize or join a union.”

 

In the current economy, inequality of income and wealth grows, and at the same time there is a disconnect between productivity and earnings “because it allows corporations to batter down labor costs–people’s paychecks.”

 

“In explaining inequality, many economists emphasize the importance of education and technology, contending that widening gaps reflect shifts in the demands for skills and the failure of America’s educational system. Yet the old postwar social compact calling for far greater equality was respected at a time when most Americans did not go to college and many factory workers had not completed high school. Since 1980, college graduation rates have soared yet inequality has increased. Generally, it has widened among college graduates, not just between those with college degrees and those with only high school diplomas or less.”

 

Kuttner says that the new economy represents a shift of political power. Employers have been trying for over a century to lower labor costs. In this new era, with unions having lost numbers and political power, employers find it easier to outsource and replace workers with temps. Financial deregulation, he says, set off the latest round of work degradation. The second book he reviews “explains how the business strategies of these [private equity] investment companies logically destroy and degrade jobs, not for economic efficiency or better management but to transfer wealth from workers to financial profiteers.”

 

Private equity is, he says, “a sly rebranding of what used to be called leverage buyouts (LBOs), or more coarsely, corporate raids….Contrary to the industry’s claims about being experts in turning companies from losers to winners, private equity typically targets healthy companies rather than underperforming ones, the better to extract cash reserves. Having loaded the balance sheet of the company with debt–debt incurred in the purchase of that very company–they hire managers to run as lean and ruthless an operation as possible. They borrow even more money to pay themselves ‘special dividends,’ to recoup their initial small equity outlay many times over even if the operating company goes broke. The big losers in this game are the company’s workers….

 

Since the general partners of private equity firms make such outsized returns, investors want a piece of that action. But Applebaum and Batt cite data showing that most of the returns to limited partners do not beat the performance of the S&P 500. Even more peculiar is the fact that some 35 percent of the investment capital put up by limited partners comes from pension funds–which represent the deferred wages of workers. So workers’ own funds become part of the financial system that drives down workers’ wages and often plunders other pension systems.”

 

Kuttner writes:

 

“For reasons unrelated to education or technology, a great many jobs can be configured either as casual labor or as normal payroll employment. In many states, for example, home health aides are individual contractors with low wages and insecure employment to match. But in states with strong unions, such as California, home health aides have won the right to form bargaining units and are compensated as payroll employees. Warehouse workers for Walmart are hired and employed by logistics contractors; they are low-paid and subject to arbitrary dismissal. Elsewhere, however, many warehouse workers are salaried employees and receive middle-class compensation….The general trend to lower-paid work has little to do with education, technology, or management ‘efficiency.’ It is a pure transfer from labor to capital.”

 

The best way to halt job degrading is, one, to enforce the laws on the books; and two, to strengthen workers’ rights to join unions, “since unions remain the best defense against gratuitous job job-degrading.”

 

When you think about education “reform” in the context of job-degrading and rising inequality, the pieces begin to fit together with the larger transformation of our economy to the highest levels of inequality since the age of the Robber Barons.

A teacher in Connecticut, signing in as Linda, wrote the following comment:

 
Brace yourself Rhode Island…it is worse than you think. Hide your children and warn the teachers. He is coming to charterize, privatize, monetize your schools. See Pelto research here:

Gina Raimondo’s husband Andy Moffitt was Cory Booker’s roommate.
Moffitt is a member Stand for Children Board of Directors

Moffit is a Senior Practice Expert and member of core leadership team for McKinsey & Company’s Global Education Practice.

“Since co-founding the Global Education Practice in 2005, Andy has worked with multiple large urban districts, state education departments and charter management organizations to markedly improve system performance and close achievement gaps.

He co-authored a recent book, Deliverology 101: A Field Guide for School System Leaders (Corwin Press, 2010), which describes key success factors and steps in driving results in global school system reforms.

Before joining McKinsey, Andy was an elementary school teacher in an inner-city school in Houston, Texas as a corps member of Teach For America.”

From my recent article in the Progressive:

The Corporate Education Reform Industry effort to buy control of Public Education

This year’s election season provided a series of textbook examples of how corporate education reformers used their personal fortunes to contaminate the democratic process.

Let’s begin with the little state of Rhode Island, where former hedge fund owner and charter school champion, Democrat Gina Raimondo was elected governor with 40 percent of the vote in a three-way race—one in which there was an unprecedented level of campaign spending.

Raimondo, who as Rhode Island’s state treasurer won national acclaim from conservatives for successfully dismantling the state employee pension fund, raised hundreds of thousands of dollars from donors associated with funding the education reform movement and profiting from the charter school industry. Her running mate, Cumberland Mayor Daniel McKee, one of the state’s most vocal supporters of charter schools, was elected lieutenant governor with help from many of the same donors.

Over the course of her gubernatorial campaign, Raimondo collected checks from many of the major players in the charter school and “education reform” movement, including donations from billionaires Eli Broad and members of the Walton Family. (The Broad Foundation and Walton Foundation, along with Gates Foundation, are the primary funders behind the overall education reform movement.)

Another billionaire, former Enron executive John Arnold along with his wife, not only donated directly to Raimondo’s campaign and her political action committee, called Gina PAC, but the couple’s $100,000 check made them the largest donors to the American LeadHERship Council, a Super PAC affiliated with Raimondo. The second largest donor to the Super PAC was Eli Broad with $15,000.

A proponent of doing away with public employee pensions, Arnold also donated as much as $500,000 to an advocacy group called Engage Rhode Island, which spent approximately $740,000 lobbying for Raimondo’s successful assault on public employee pensions. Over the past three years, the John and Laura Arnold Foundation has donated more than $100 million in support of charter schools and entities involved in the corporate education reform industry, including being one of the largest contributors to Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Educational Excellence.

Raimondo’s success in raising funds from the charter school industry includes at least $50,000 from the members of the board of directors of Achievement First, Inc., the large charter chain that recently opened a school in Rhode Island, adding to their existing schools in Connecticut and New York.

Jonathan Sackler, an investment manager and heir to the Purdue Pharma fortune, is not only a founding member of Achievement First, Inc, but a founder of a national charter school advocacy group called 50CAN. One of 50CAN’s related entities, 50CAN Action Fund, dumped $90,000 to run TV commercials to help Raimondo’s running mate win his primary race.

Gary Rubinstein has written a series of letters to leaders of the “reform” movement. Some have replied. Up to this point, he wrote to people he knew during his years at TFA. Now he has started what (hopefully) will be a series written to “reformers I don’t know,” and he writes his first letter to Joel Klein, whose book he is reading. He patiently and civilly explains to Klein why the reform movement is floundering and foundering. He explains why TFA doesn’t make much difference; why merit pay doesn’t work; why ed tech is limited as a classroom tool; and why value-added measurement of teachers by test scores doesn’t work.

 

Since Gary has made a specialty of calling out inflated claims, he ends on this note:

 

 

The one that I really got you on was P-Tech. I wrote about how they only had a school average of about 30% on those tests. You thought this number was skewed by the fact that they require so many of their students to take the test so it is unfair to compare to a school where not so many kids take it. But when I dug deeper into the public data I learned that only 1.8% of the P-Tech students passed Geometry and 1.6% passed Algebra II. Even if every student in the school took those tests, that would be only about 5 kids passing for each test. That is really bad. P-Tech is a test score disaster. I know that you used it in the introduction to your book about how the choice to shut down a school and open another can lead to great improvement. In this case, this particular school hasn’t accomplished much. Yet, you defend this school so vigorously. Why? I think you would have more credibility if you were to admit that P-Tech is a disaster, at least when it comes to math Regents. When you give free passes to people you have relationships with — whether it is P-Tech or AP scores in Louisiana or KIPP schools in New Orleans that have low test scores — aren’t reformers supposed to be all about ‘increased autonomy for increased accountability’? When you selectively hold people and schools that you don’t have a connection to more strict accountability than the ones you do, I don’t respect that.

 

One of your friends and now a co-worker at Amplify is education reform celebrity Geoffrey Canada. I actually am very much in favor of wrap-around services as a way of helping kids overcome some of the out-of-school factors that serve as obstacles to their learning. Unfortunately when you look at the test scores at Harlem Children’s Zone, they are horrible. I know this may make it seem like wrap-around services are underrated, but in this case the poor test results are an example of a very badly run school, despite the wrap-arounds. I know this because a former student of mine who is now a very happy teacher at Success Academy spent her first miserable year of teaching at Harlem Children’s Zone. She said it was a very toxic environment where nobody in charge knew what they were doing. You surely know that Canada ‘fired’ two different cohorts of students since their bad test scores were, I suspect, dragging down his reputation. To throw away two groups of struggling kids is completely at odds with the sorts of things you write in your book about how all kids can thrive if permitted to learn in the right environment.

 

Finally, I’ve noticed many inconsistencies in many of your arguments. When critics say that graduation rate is up to back up their point that schools are not in crisis, you point to the flat long term NAEP scores to refute them. Then when critics say that New York City has not made great improvements during your tenure and use the lack of NAEP gains (that first test that was administered before you got there doesn’t count, you know!) you point to the increased graduation rate. I think you need to pick what metrics you think are valid and stick to them.

 

I hope Klein writes Gary Rubinstein a reply.

The public schools of York City, Pennsylvania, are on a precipice. They have a deficit. The state, contrary to its constitutional obligation, refuses to help. The district is in receivership. A judge approved the receiver’s plan to hand the schools over to a Florida-based for-profit corporation. How the corporation can make a profit from a district in financial distress is not clear. The district school board wants to appeal. The judge will decide in the next week whether he will permit an appeal from his ruling.

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Judge: Ruling on York City School District’s receivership appeal to come next week

York Dispatch by MOLLIE DURKIN 505-5432/@YDHealth 01/06/2015 01:58:20 PM EST

A court ruling on the York City School District’s appeal of receivership will have to wait until next week. York County President Judge Stephen P. Linebaugh held a hearing about the appeal on Tuesday, a week and a half after granting the state Department of Education’s petition to appoint David Meckley as the school district’s receiver. Meckley has served as the district’s chief recovery officer for about two years. For several months, he’s advocated for a full conversion of the district’s eight schools to operation by Charter Schools USA, a for-profit charter company.

The appeal: Marc Tarlow, an attorney representing the district, filed an appeal to Linebaugh’s decision and is pushing for a stay that would prevent Meckley from officially becoming the receiver until the appeals process is finished. But Clyde Vedder, attorney for the state Department of Education, argued that the district has no authority to appeal and that only the directors of the school board may file appeals. “Which, as we pointed out in our motion, they have not done,” he said. Linebaugh said he is “somewhat troubled” by the assertion that an entity affected by a decision has no right to appeal.

http://www.yorkdispatch.com/breaking/ci_27264505/judge-ruling-york-city-school-districts-receivership-appeal

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Judge considers appeal questions in York City receiver case

State wants court to strike appeal from York City School District

By Angie Mason amason@ydr.com @angiemason1 on Twitter 01/06/2015 06:05:01 PM EST

David Meckley could know as early as next week whether a judge will clear the way for him to move forward with the York City School District’s recovery plan, or whether appeals filed over his appointment as receiver will keep district control in limbo. On Tuesday, York County Judge Stephen Linebaugh heard arguments on the state education department’s motions to strike the school district’s appeal in the case and remove an automatic stay of receivership triggered by that appeal. Linebaugh gave the attorneys until Friday to file any supplemental documents and said he could rule early next week, unless he determines there’s need for a hearing.

Clyde Vedder, attorney for the state, argued Tuesday there’s a “fundamental distinction” between the school district and the school board. The appeal was “allegedly” filed by the district, he said, but the district was placed under Meckley’s control when he was named receiver Dec. 26. The board itself, Vedder argued, has not filed an appeal.

http://www.ydr.com/ci_27268935/judge-considers-appeal-questions-york-city-receiver-case?source=rss

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Politics is as politics does in York school debate (letter)

York Daily Record Letter by Jeff Kirkland UPDATED: 01/06/2015 02:34:03 PM EST

Jeff Kirkland is a former York City School Board President.

In response to the letter by state Reps. Seth Grove and Stand Saylor, and state Sen. Scott Wagner:

When it comes to assessing what is good for the York City School District, these guys are as delusional as they were when they participated in the decimation of the district. It is obvious this is a political hack piece as these arrogant “do-gooders” attempt to support their crony, Tom Corbett, and cover their own tracks in undermining urban education across the state.

When it comes to concern about the education of the kids of York, these charlatans have proven over the years they have no real interest in the education of city youth.

Both Saylor and Grove supported the destabilization of the city district by pushing the failed Edison Charter school experiment. The Edison group, like Charter Schools USA, made many similar empty promises of savings, improved academics and even free computers for families who fell for their false promises. When they could not squeeze enough profits out of this community to satisfy their greed, Edison left town in a hurry, leaving a disrupted and unstable district in its lurch. Where is the accountable Mr. Grove and Mr. Saylor? Where were you as your experiment with our children failed?

http://www.ydr.com/letters/ci_27266986/politics-is-politics-does-york-school-debate-letter

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Sorry I missed this great post when it came out in November. Jersey Jazzman, one of the nation’s best education bloggers, foretells the handover of the York City public schools to a for-profit charter chain and excoriates the state officials who are permitting this travesty to happen.

 

He digs into the stats on York City to show that it is performing about where you would expect given the socioeconomic disadvantage of its students. York City, he says, needs help, more resources, not a for-profit charter chain to siphon money out of its budget.

 

He writes:

 

Let’s recap:

Tom Corbett abdicated his responsibilities to the children of York and defunded their schools.
He sent in his personal hack to force the district to turn those schools over to a private, for-profit corporation through a shell non-profit.
The hack — as if he were a made man — told the district if they didn’t take his offer, he’d take over.
No one knows how much money the charter company is going to make on this deal.
Trust me, folks, we’re just getting started…

 

Meckley believes this plan is warranted because York’s schools aren’t performing up to snuff. But the truth is that they are exactly where we’d expect them to be, given the demographics of the city.

 

Do you want to see a photo of Jon Hage’s gorgeous yacht? Look here. He is the CEO of Charter Schools USA. The yacht was up for sale recently. He lives well. His business is very profitable with taxpayer dollars.

 

Jersey Jazzman asks:

 

And what kind of performance have the good people of Florida received for all of that money?

 
The chain was considered high-performing until this year. And on Tuesday the Orange School Board voted 7-0 to deny its applications for three new campuses.

 
Because charters are publicly funded per pupil, Charter Schools USA would receive about $27 million a year to run the three schools at capacity if approved.

 
“Their performance in Orange County is abysmally poor,” board Chairman Bill Sublette said of the Renaissance schools. “They’re underperforming the schools in the area that they’re drawing from. How can we look taxpayers in the eye and approve them?”
But Jonathan Hage, president and CEO of Charter Schools USA, said he is proud of all of the company’s schools, including Chickasaw.

 
“We do an excellent job over time, even with the lowest-performing students,” he said. “We knew we wouldn’t be able to turn those scores around in a year.” [emphasis mine]

 
JJ: I guess David Meckley knows better than the entire Orange School Board. Maybe CSUSA’s history in Indiana convinced him:

 
“The four takeover schools in Indianapolis lost huge numbers of students — between 35 and 60 percent at each school — between the start of classes in 2011 and when the takeover operators took over in 2012. Schools are mostly funded on the basis of their enrollment, so the departures came at a steep cost for the private operators.
On top of that, the takeover schools saw their share of a pot of federal funds for low-performing schools that is controlled by the state shrink as more state schools became eligible to claim that money. Tindley lost $212,000, and Charter Schools USA’s three schools lost more than $601,110 because of across-the-board reductions.
Together, the cuts have left takeover operators with much higher costs than they anticipated.
Sherry Hage, CSUSA’s chief academic officer, says the operator is planning to stick with its schools despite the costs. But for some, the price tag is proving too high. Earlier this month, Tindley shocked state education officials by threatening to pull out of Arlington shortly after the start of the school year unless the nonprofit could get $2.4 million in additional aid.”

 
– See more at: http://jerseyjazzman.blogspot.com/2014/11/york-pa-and-death-of-public-education.html#sthash.wCR7cUKg.dpuf

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peter Greene here recounts the sad story of the nation’s first all-charter district in Muskegon Heights, Michigan. You never hear about this important experiment on national radio and television. Want to know why? No big PR machine. No miracles. Instead, disaster.

Governor Rick Snyder appointed an emergency manager to impose change on Muskegon Heights. The students had low scores, and the district had a deficit. The emergency manager gave the entire district to Mosaica, a for-profit charter chain. It was “a historic opportunity” to show how private enterprise could raise scores, close achievement gaps, and succeed where the public schools had failed.

Things quickly went downhill. Teachers quit in large numbers, including new hires, wages were poor, scores remained low, discipline was erratic. The emergency manager warned Mosaica that it would be terminated if it couldn’t change things fast.

Last spring, Mosaica gave up or was pushed out or both. Even though they waived their management fee of $1 million, they couldn’t make a profit. Muskegon Heights didn’t suit their business model.

Greene concludes:

“First, Mosaica didn’t know what the hell they were doing. There are vague hints of protestations that they couldn’t be expected to fully staff and supply a system so quickly, but that’s exactly what they said they could do. They failed to recruit an adequate staff, and then they failed to retain them. They failed to provide the teaching supplies needed for the setting, and they failed to establish an environment of order and safety in the schools. The only thing Mosaica knew how to do was crunch numbers and manage cash flow (and that they did in ways that damaged every other part of their mission).

“Second, they brought no commitment, no ties, no roots, no intention of fighting to the end. They came to make money. When they couldn’t make money, they left…..

“And that is why school and business do not mix. A public school is a long-term commitment that stretches across the generations. It is a promise that a community makes to its children, past, present and future. That is not a reasonable expectation for a business, but it is the only acceptable expectation for a public school system.”

In this post, retired teacher Edward F. Berger uses the words “barbarism” and “barberism” interchangeably, on purpose.

 

On one hand, he refers to the “barbarism” of allowing testing companies to serve as a sieve to separate children into those who succeed and those who are rejected.

 

On the other, he refers to the ideology of Michael Barber, who is chief advisor to Pearson and previously served in a similar role at McKinsey. Berger refers specifically to the writings of Peter Greene, the teacher-blogger who carefully dissected a recent Pearson statement on the future of education, with the corporation at the epicenter as the foremost testing corporation in the world.

 

Here is a sampling of Berger’s thoughts on “the new Barberism”:

 

Let’s agree to use simple terms to describe complex matters. Think of a sieve used for separating coarse, from fine parts of matter. Now imagine people who believe that running students through a sieve built of data will allow them to correct or remove unacceptable thinking – like getting rid of individuality, and those who think in ways that are not acceptable to those who are designing new standards for humankind. Barbarism: Selecting those who can be programmed (educated?) in a new world order, and re-programming those who do not fit through the data-screens they create….

 

Sieves are being designed to standardize and program children. The warp and woof of these techniques is made up of data threads used to identify children who will be shaped to fit a predetermined ideal of the perfect subordinated child/citizen (learner?) Sieves are being used to generate data to decide who will be accepted into the new order and those data-judged souls who must go through “customized” re-programming. No one is making this up. This is happening now.

 

Who designs the sieves? That’s easy: TEST DESIGNERS. When people have the power to design tests, they can force what is taught, in any way they choose. Sadly, there are still people who have not realized that tests drive curriculum – what is taught, what is left out, and what is fact-adverse. Teachers use tests to see if what they taught is what students learned. Now, corporations have made testing and curriculum design a multi-billion dollar a year business. They are so powerful they can force their products and their views on school districts, universities, departments of education, and the AMA and doctors – on all of us. Few question their motives or the Barbarism behind their hidden agendas. They make the tests secret so no organization can study them understand how they are used for inculcation.

 

Those who run these corporations have amassed great wealth and power. They are well aware that by writing tests and the curriculum to support the tests, and by using tests to collect data on every aspect of a child’s life, they can engineer a new order, a utopia they design and force into place. This is beyond fiction in any genre. This is the power and warped ideology they are forcing on America and much of the world. Focusing on the Common Core fiasco is but one example. Common Core forces machine language and thinking, instead of creative and original thought in all disciplines.

 

Will it work? Can they program young brains to do what they want while sorting out those who do not or cannot think their way? As we peruse their agenda and plan of attack, we ask, who would have to be re-programmed? Who would not be admitted into their utopia? Of course, Albert Einstein. As a child he did not do what was expected. He jumped over the limited thinking of his time. He would be data-judged by the new Barbarism, and rejected as untrainable.

A well-funded charter advocacy group, deceptively named “Families for Excellent Schools,” has opened in Boston.

It claims that it supports all excellent schools, whether charter or public, but the record says this group is a cheerleader for charters and against public schools. As the story in the Boston Globe says, FES spent something like $6 million (earlier coverage had numbers like $3.6 million or $4 million but eventually reporters settled on $5-6 million) to stop Mayor Bill de Blasio from reigning in charter expansion. Due to FES’ efforts, Governor Cuomo and the legislature required Néw York City to provide all charters free public space or to pay their private rent.

What kind of families can raise $4-6 million in a matter of days to bash the mayor and promote charters? The family of billionaire hedge fund manager Paul Tudor Jones and the Walton family, just your typical American families.

Camden, New Jersey, is one of the poorest cities in the state of New Jersey. The public schools are dilapidated. But charter schools are not dilapidated. Jersey Jazzman tells how one entrepreneur in Camden was able to raise $10 million through a bond issue to build a state-of-the-art facility, with a new cafeteria, science labs, a fitness center, and a health clinic.

 

He writes:

 

If you know anything about Camden and its schools, you’ll know that this is quite a story — a story that shows, once again, that charter schools play by a completely different set of rules, often to the detriment of public schools.

 

Let’s start with some background: I spent a lot of time last year telling the story of Camden’s LEAP Academy University Charter School and its founder, Gloria Bonilla-Santiago. The tale is long and twisted, but let me give the quick highlights:
Despite a track record of regularly missing Adequate Yearly Progress (and academic outcomes that even today lag compared to schools across New Jersey), LEAP was always a favorite of then-Acting Education Commissioner and school privatizing guru Chris Cerf:

 

*LEAP actually lost its tax-exempt status for a while in 2013 because it failed to file its tax returns. This was serious because $8.5 million in bonds had been issued from the Delaware River Port Authority for the school’s expansion. LEAP eventually got its tax-exempt status back, but not before blaming the debacle on the IRS.
*But the failure to file taxes for three years was the least of the questionable behaviors surrounding LEAP. The school illegally recruited athletes back in 2005, leading to a severe sanction from the NJISAA. The school engaged in unfair labor practices, leading to extraordinary levels of teacher turnover. LEAP had to repay the NJDOE when it used federal funds for non-allowable expenses. A LEAP employee filed a lawsuit, claiming he had been forced to do personal work for Bonilla-Santiago at her home (I can’t find any follow-up reporting on the status of this suit).
*But perhaps the biggest scandal coming from LEAP came from the Philadelphia Inquirer’s reporting on Bonilla-Santiago’s live-in boyfriend, Michele Pastorello:
When Camden’s LEAP Academy University Charter School compelled its new food-service management company to retain the school’s executive chef and give him a $24,000 raise, LEAP also had to pay a $151,428 penalty to its previous vendor, documents show.
Including Michele Pastorello’s new $95,000 salary, LEAP has spent nearly $250,000 this school year to keep him employed as executive chef. The position typically pays about $40,000, according to industry experts.
Pastorello is the live-in boyfriend of LEAP founder and board chairwoman Gloria Bonilla-Santiago. His raise, as well as the fee paid to the previous management company, Aramark, now are under review by the school’s board of trustees. [emphasis JJ]
Not surprisingly, a subcommittee of LEAP’s board found that nothing was wrong with this deal.

 

JJ adds, with careful documentation, comparing LEAP charter school to the Camden public schools:

 

LEAP serves a substantially different student body than the Camden Public Schools. We can argue about whether that’s acceptable or not, certainly acknowledging that LEAP’s student body has far more children in economic disadvantage than its suburban neighbors. But let’s get back to those bonds…

Because what I don’t understand is why there is plenty of money ready and available for charter schools like LEAP — which serves fewer children with special needs — to expand, while its neighboring public schools in Camden have to wait years just to get enough funding to keep from falling apart.

Why is Wall Street so eager to give a school like LEAP — a school with a history of not filing taxes, engaging in unfair labor practices, and paying favored employees far more than market wages — money with which to expand? So eager that, according to this Wall Street Journal story, LEAP is getting a remarkably good deal?
The school is paying a rate of 6.3% on longer-term debt. Comparable borrowing costs in 2009 were about 7.6%, according to the Local Initiatives Support Corp., which advises charter schools on finances.
Do you think that maybe the street came to a conclusion about LEAP? That maybe it doesn’t need to jack up interest rates for their bonds, because — as the school’s history shows time and again — it simply can do no wrong? – See more at:

 

 

http://jerseyjazzman.blogspot.com/2014/12/theres-always-more-money-for-charter.html#sthash.NcIzEwPK.dpuf

 

 

Recently the Néw York Post ran an article about Al Sharpton, saying that he received money from corporations in return for not campaigning against them as racist. The story said that the firm of former Chancellor Harold Levy paid Sharpton $500,000 to help a client who was competing to manage a gambling franchise.

Leonie Haimson, CEO of Néw Tork City’s most activist group Class Size Matters, writes that the NY Post left out the key details of that transaction.

She writes:

“Left out of this account is the most interesting part of the story. It’s not just that the money for Sharpton was ostensibly for “equity” and funneled through Education Reform Now, the non-profit arm of Joe William’s pro-charter Democrats for Education Reform. The larger context is that ERN was merely a pass-through, and the money was directed to Sharpton through the Education Equity Project, founded by then-Chancellor Joel Klein, in exchange for Sharpton agreeing to co-chair the group and adopt Klein’s aggressive anti-teacher, pro-charter stance.”

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