Archives for category: For-Profit

Dipti Desai is a professor of the arts and art education at New York University. She teaches both pre-service and in-service art teachers. As she watched what was happening in the world of education, she decided to create a graphic to illustrate the “Educational Industrial Complex.” Readers may know that when President Dwight D. Eisenhower was leaving office after his second term, he warned voters to be wary of the “Military Industrial Complex.” Who knew that in 2015 we would have to keep our eyes on the “educational industrial complex,” a combination of corporations, philanthropies, government agencies, and the organizations that promote privatization and high-stakes testing?



The report can be downloaded here.

This is a very interesting interview with Bobby Turner, who is the partner of Andre Agassi in opening new charter schools for profit across the country. He seems to think that destroying public education is a way to perform good works.

Charity is laudable, Bobby Turner says, but if you really want to raise enough money to improve a thorny social problem you have to introduce the profit motive.

An associate of 1980s junk bond king Michael Milken who made a fortune in real estate, Turner is now turning that personal philosophy into action.

He set up a company last year called Turner Impact Capital that seeks investors to pay for blue-collar housing, promising returns more typical of ­conventional moneymaking businesses.

And already some big names are risking capital to invest with Turner, a deeply connected Los Angeles financier who already has a similar fund with former tennis star Andre Agassi to build inner-city charter schools.

The Turner Multifamily Impact Fund launched in June so far has drawn investments from high-profile hedge fund manager Bill Ackman; Citi Community Capital, a division of Citibank that invests in affordable housing; the University of Michigan endowment; and Rockefeller Brothers Fund, a philanthropic organization operated by the Rockefeller family.

This is the reasoning of the hedge fund managers and equity investors who are privatizing public schools. If they can generate a profit, taking public money that should be paying for the arts, for raising teachers’ salaries, and for reducing class sizes, they think they are doing good works. Please, someone, tell them they should stick to selling stuff and leave the taxpayer money for the kids, not for investors and profits. They are getting rich, and they are not doing good. They are hurting children.

Andrew Rotherham is a reformer who runs a consulting business. He is on many boards, including Campbell Brown’s 74. He used to write a regular column for TIME, now he writes for US News. He typically discloses his conflicts of interest at the end of his articles.

In this article, he tries to explain why it is so difficult for public companies to succeed in the public education sector. He says that the market makes demands for performance indicators that lead to poor decisions. His example is Joel Klein’s Amplify, which Rotherham thinks was too good for the market. (Amplify is or was a client of Rotherham’s business). Other commentators attributed Amplify’s failure to the poor quality of its tablets, some of whose screens cracked and chargers melted after delivery to Guilford County, NC. Rotherham also explains the poor stock performance of K12 (another of his past or present clients) by saying that the market forced it to enroll students who were “ill-suited” to its model.

He writes:

Pressure to hit revenue and growth expectations drives companies to attract customers who are a poor fit. That’s why Edison ended up in Philadelphia. It’s also why the online learning company K12 got caught in a perverse spiral when enrollment expectations drove it to recruit students who were ill-suited to succeed in the company’s model. The more such students the company signed up, the more its academic results suffered. 

All in all, his explanation of why businesses fail is a good explanation of why “reform” by test scores fails. Reformers think they can reach the projected “profits” by setting audacious goals, pressuring and intimidating educators, and closing schools. Those tactics don’t work in business, and they don’t work in education.

PS: apologies to readers for the several typos in the original. I wrote this while riding in a taxi on a bumpy highway. But no excuses. I should have read it before posting it.

A report in the Wall Street Journal describes the gold-rush atmosphere that attracts real estate investors to charter schools. The risk in the investment is diminished because the schools have a steady stream of government funds. The charters are almost always non-union. The biggest risk is that the people running the schools are unqualified to run a school and the school may fail.

Real-estate investors are showing an increasing interest in charter school development as the demand grows for classroom seats and some state and local governments become more willing to help finance charter-school projects.

Almost all charter schools are operated by nonprofit organizations. But these groups often rent and buy their buildings from private real-estate developers, and that is creating a new niche asset for some investors.

One of the latest entrants to the charter real-estate business is Northstar Commercial Partners, a Denver-based private-equity firm that is raising a $100 million fund. It will focus on converting charter schools out of vacant office, industrial and retail properties that can be purchased for less than half of what they would cost to build, according to Northstar Chief Executive Brian Watson.

Meanwhile, investment manager Bobby Turner, who founded Turner Impact Capital LLC in 2013, is raising his second fund with tennis legend Andre Agassi for building new charter schools, this one with a goal of $400 million.

And established players in the business are seeing volume increases on chart school developments. For example, a venture of HighMark School Development and EPR Properties, a real-estate investment trust, spent more than $118 million in 2014 on acquisition, renovation and construction, compared with $34 million in 2011.

“There’s no shortage of cash,” said Patrick Beausoleil, a HighMark vice president.

The rise in investment activity partly reflects the growth of the charter school movement, which has been overcoming political opposition in many states. During the 2014-2015 school year, 500 new public charter schools opened nationwide, for a total of more than 6,700 enrolling about 2.9 million students, according to the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.

Some states are beginning to make financing tools available to charter schools that had been limited to traditional public schools. For example, the states of Texas, Colorado and Utah now backstop tax exempt bond issues for some charter schools, reducing their capital costs when acquiring facilities, according to Scott Rolfs, managing director of B.C. Ziegler & Co., a niche investment-banking firm that has underwritten more than $600 million in charter school bonds.

But the growing role of for-profit real-estate developers has added a new dimension to the debate over charters, which are taxpayer funded and independently operated schools that are largely free of union rules. Critics say charter schools are in danger of cutting costly deals with developers who are more concerned with investment return than educating children. The result can lead to failed schools.

One of the biggest investment funds is the one created by Turner Impact Capital and tennis star Andre Agassi. Agassi is a high-school dropout. It seems that to start new charter schools, no education is necessary.

Reader Chiara sent the following comment about new funding by the U.S. Department of Education for for-profit ventures. Since when did ED become a source of venture capital for start-ups?

“Duncan’s cranking up the private sector subsidy funding on his way out the door:

“On Wednesday the department will announce a pilot program that will allow federal grants and loans to flow to educational-technology companies that team up with colleges and third-party “quality-assurance entities” to offer coding boot camps, MOOCs, short-term certificates, and other credentials.”

“Partnering with accredited schools to deliver tech skills for credit is a dangerous back door to access federal student loans,” wrote Clint Schmidt He called for the department to put “a rigorous standard in place” before federal aid could cover boot-camp tuition.

“The risk is a short-term, money-grabbing mind-set”

Nothing could possibly go wrong there, right? Public money to ed-tech companies. They’re doing this…. because for-profit, online colleges were such a smashing success?

Is there some reason the federal government feels they have to market and fund ed-tech? Is there a shortage of salespeople at these companies or something so we have to provide publicly-paid salespeople for their product?″

Here’s another description:

U.S. Deputy Secretary Ted Mitchell was formerly CEO of NewSchools Venture Fund, which invested in these kinds of business ventures, as well as charter chains. He has no problem with for-profit education; NSVF supported it when he was in charge.

The Foundation for Excellence in Education, the privatization/testing advocacy group founded by Jeb Bush, will hold its national summit in Denver on October 22-23.

Since Jeb stepped down to run for President, Condi Rice is the new leader. You may recall that she became an education expert in 2012 when she led a task force with Joel Klein that declared that American public schools are so dreadful that they are a threat to national security. The cure, they said, was charters, vouchers, and the Common Core.

Please note that if you are a blogger, you must submit samples of your work to prove you love corporate reform: charters, vouchers, school closings, high-stakes testing, merit pay, etc., or you will not be admitted.

The most newsworthy portion of the summit will be the session on “proven strategies” to improve student achievement. Since none of the corporate reform strategies have any evidence to support them, this will be a challenge for those hoping for proof, not ideological blather.

The latest press release:

From: “Foundation for Excellence in Education”

Sent: Thursday, October 8, 2015 10:21:15 AM
Subject: MEDIA ADVISORY: 2015 National Summit on Education Reform hosted by Dr. Condoleezza Rice

October 8, 2015 Contact: Press Office

MEDIA ADVISORY: 2015 National Summit on Education Reform hosted by Dr. Condoleezza Rice

On October 22-23, Dr. Condoleezza Rice, 66th U.S. Secretary of State and board chair of the Foundation for Excellence in Education (ExcelinEd) will host the organization’s eighth annual National Summit on Education Reform. Media registration is now open for media wishing to cover the two-day event. Credentials must be requested in advance of the start of the summit.

The nation’s premier annual education forum immerses policymakers in two days of in-depth discussions on proven and innovative strategies to improve student achievement.

The following event is OPEN PRESS:

2015 National Summit on Education Reform

Presented by the Foundation for Excellence in Education
October 22-23, 2015
Hyatt Regency Denver at Colorado Convention Center
650 15th Street
Denver, CO 80202


All members of the media, including bloggers, who plan to cover the Summit must be credentialed by the Foundation for Excellence in Education. All media must apply for advance credentials online via the Media Registration Form by Monday October 19 COB. Advance registration is strongly encouraged as space is limited and onsite registration may be subject to delays.

To apply for media credentials, please complete the Media Registration Form.

As the Foundation is sensitive to the need to make travel plans, notification of credential approval will be made via email within one week of receiving the requested information.

Specific credentialing requirements exist for freelance writers and bloggers. In addition to completing the online form, as soon as possible please email the following information to

Freelance Writers: Freelance writers wishing to cover the Summit must submit a letter of assignment or letter of intent from the media outlet being represented.

Bloggers: Bloggers wishing to receive credentials must have regular posts about education and policy issues, and other related news, and have a significant following. Proof of coverage may be provided in the following form: a URL to your site’s main page as well as a link to a bylined article posted within the last few months.


For planning purposes, media check-in will open on Thursday, October 22 and Friday, October 23 at 7:00 a.m. and continue throughout the day, both days of the conference.

Upon check-in at the event, approved media will be asked to present a current year news media credential in conjunction with a government-issued photo ID, such as a valid state driver’s license or passport. If a current year news media credential is not available, a valid business card in conjunction with a government-issued photo ID, such as a valid state driver’s license or passport, may be accepted.

Previous accreditation to Foundation for Excellence in Education events does not guarantee the issuance of media or blogger credentials for the 2015 National Summit on Education Reform.

The Foundation for Excellence in Education, in its sole discretion, reserves the right to withhold press credentials from members of the news media, limit the number of credentials assigned to any news organization and revoke credentials from members of the news media before or during the event for any reason. Acceptance of press credentials constitutes agreement by the bearer and his/her organization to abide by any terms set forth by the Foundation for Excellence in Education.


As in years past, media credentials must be worn at all times in order to gain access to designated press areas to cover the conference sessions.

The Media Filing center will be available to all credentialed media on a first come, first serve basis, during operating hours for the entirety of the two-day Summit. Other designated press areas will be accessible based on Summit agenda.


Members of the media are welcome to cover the conference, including keynote, general and strategy sessions from designated press areas. Participation in Q&A segments is reserved for registered attendees of the event.

A live feed of the general and keynote sessions will be available in the Media Filing Center. Additionally, there will be closed-circuit televisions and mult boxes for access to clean audio feeds of the general and keynote sessions.

Technical Details:

Complimentary internet access will be provided in the Media Filing Center and ballroom. Please note that this network will be available to all members of the media, which may cause a high volume of traffic at times.

A live webcast of the general and keynote sessions will also be available. Details are forthcoming. News organizations may live stream the Summit in its entirety, upload video content to websites and/or archive footage.

Agenda & Speakers:

The week of the Summit, a full itinerary of the conference events, as well as technical and logistical specifications for media, will be distributed to registered and confirmed media outlets and bloggers.

In the meantime, a complete list of speakers featured during the 2015 summit and a full agenda for the two-day event may be found at

Confirmed media will receive access to the official #EIE15 app accessible via smartphone or tablet, offering real-time updates on speakers, the agenda and strategy sessions.

Join the Conversation:

Follow #EIE15 and @ExcelinEd on Twitter for the latest news and updates regarding the 2015 Summit.

Special Requests:

Once approved, credentialed media may alert us of any special coverage needs or requests, including but not limited to the following topics, and we will do our best to accommodate:

If you would like to pre-arrange an interview with one of the speakers in advance of or during the Summit;
If you need to request private interview space for a specific and consolidated time period;

If you are interested in covering the event live, plan to park a satellite truck onsite and/or have questions regarding cable runs; and

If you are a network or cable and wish to attend the technical walk-through;
In some cases, specific deadlines apply. Space is limited.

Thank you for your interest in covering the Foundation for Excellence in Education’s eighth annual National Summit on Education Reform. We hope to see you in Denver.


For more information visit

The Foundation for Excellence in Education is transforming education for the 21st century economy by working with lawmakers, policymakers, educators and parents to advance education reform across America. ExcelinEd is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. In 2014, ExcelinEd received more than 85 percent of its operating revenue from private family foundations. Learn more at

P.O. Box 10691
Tallahassee, Florida

The Detroit News reports that investigators are reviewing contracts made during Barbara Byrd-Bennett’s time as chief academic auditor for the Detroit public schools under Robert Bobb.

“Barbara Byrd-Bennett, who was the chief academic and accountability auditor for DPS from 2009-11, was convicted of one count of fraud in federal court. Federal authorities alleged that as CEO of the Chicago Public Schools, she steered $23 million in no-bid contracts to two education firms in return for $2.3 million in bribes and kickbacks.

“One of those firms, Synesi Associates LLC, which trains principals and school administrators, was awarded contracts with DPS while Byrd-Bennett was working for the district, according to records posted on the DPS’ website….

“According to six-month expenditure reports from May and November 2011, DPS paid $1,487,654.08 to Synesi for “Consultant Services/Curriculum/Office of Accountability.”

“The report from November 2011 also lists an invoice of $128,698.77 to Synesi as “disapproved.”
In a statement Tuesday, a DPS spokeswoman said the district is cooperating with authorities.”

Stop marketing in schools. open this link to see all the links in the press release that follows.

Contact: ​​​​​​​​Embargoed for release:
Kara Kaufman, (617) 695-2525​​​​​​​
October 14, 2015
Josh Golin, (617) 896-9368

3 million teachers to McDonald’s: We’re not lovin’ it

Adding to corporation’s woes, nation’s largest teachers union rejects McTeacher’s Nights, marketing in schools

BOSTON, MA –Today, the National Education Association (NEA) and more than 50 state and local teachers unions challenged McDonald’s CEO Steve Easterbrook to end McTeacher’s Nights, the corporation’s most exploitative form of kid-targeted marketing.

The call, issued in a letter written and organized by Corporate Accountability International (CAI) and Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC), comes as McDonald’s struggles to climb out of seven consecutive quarters of nose-diving sales in the US and continues to lose families—its core customer base. The letter builds upon a growing movement of parents and health professionals who are demanding McDonald’s end its kid-targeted marketing, and an increasing number of institutions—most recently the Cleveland Clinic—that are severing ties with the corporation.

On McTeacher’s Nights, McDonald’s recruits teachers to “work” behind the counter and serve burgers, fries, and soda to their students and their students’ families. The corporation heavily brands the events, even going so far as to provide uniforms and branded shirts for teachers to wear behind counters. In return, McDonald’s donates only a small portion of the event’s proceeds. The events take advantage of cash-strapped schools and use teachers to sell junk food directly to their students in order to create brand loyalty.

At McDonald’s most recent shareholders’ meeting, the Chicago Teachers Union denounced the practice on behalf of teachers in the corporation’s own urban school district.

“It is wholly inappropriate for McDonald’s to exploit cash-strapped schools to market its junk food brand, while miring its workers in poverty, effectively hollowing out the tax base for our schools,” said Jesse Sharkey, vice president of the Chicago Teachers Union. “In Chicago we face potentially devastating cuts to our schools, yet one of the world’s richest corporations operating in our backyard is exploiting this situation by eroding the school food environment and our students’ health in the long-run.”

Not only are McTeacher’s Nights harmful for children’s health, they are also chronically poor fundraisers. Schools typically receive only 15 to 20 percent of the event’s proceeds, often amounting to only one to two dollars per student. According to research conducted by CCFC, of 25 schools that participated in McTeacher’s Night events, only five raised more than $1,000.

“Frankly, it’s disrespectful for a multi-billion dollar corporation such as McDonald’s to throw pennies at our schools while it uses our teachers to market its products,” said Melinda Dart, vice president of the California Federation of Teachers and president of the Jefferson Elementary Federation of Teachers. “At a time when we are working hard to help our youth adopt healthy habits, this corporation and its junk food simply have no place in our schools.”

In public statements, executives have waffled around the scope of McDonald’s marketing in schools. For instance, shortly after executives publicly denied putting Ronald McDonald in schools, McDonald’s USA President Mike Andres told investors on a December 2014 investor call that McDonald’s has to be “in the schools.” During that call, Andres also cited a presence in schools as part of the corporation’s “heritage.”

Despite executives’ statements, McDonald’s continues to market directly in schools by sponsoring McTeacher’s Nights and sending Ronald McDonald into schools under the guise of physical education and reading programming. It has also sold branded fast food in school cafeterias.

Today’s call was backed by authorities in the field of education, including Diane Ravitch, Ph.D., Research Professor of Education at New York University; Nancy Carlsson-Paige, Professor Emerita at the Graduate School of Education at Lesley University; and Kevin G. Welner, Professor and Director, National Education Policy Center, University of Colorado Boulder.

Michelle Obama and the USDA have announced new proposals to stop the practice of promoting junk food in schools. The American Academy of Pediatrics and four federal agencies have also recommended restricting junk food marketing to kids.

Since 2013, more than 360 McTeacher’s Night events have been documented in more than 30 states.

Institutions calling on McDonald’s to end McTeacher’s Night events include:

● National Education Association
● National Education Association Healthy Futures

● National Education Association state affiliates
○ California
○ Florida
○ Vermont

● National Education Association local affiliates
○ Los Angeles
○ Milwaukee

● American Federation of Teachers state affiliates

○ California
○ Georgia
○ Michigan
○ Missouri
○ Ohio
○ Oklahoma
○ Pennsylvania
○ Utah
○ Vermont
○ West Virginia

● American Federation of Teachers local affiliates

○ Albuquerque
○ Atlanta
○ Birmingham
○ Boston
○ Chicago
○ Houston
○ Los Angeles
○ Savannah

Additional quotes:

Melissa Cropper, President of the Ohio Federation of Teachers

“It’s shameful that McDonald’s is using the tragic underfunding of our public schools as a marketing opportunity. Teachers should never have to sacrifice their students’ health in order to earn a few extra resources for their classrooms. Through McTeacher’s Nights, McDonald’s is exploiting cash-strapped schools to hawk a junk food brand that is making children sick.”

Andy Ford, President of the Florida Education Association

“Teachers should never have to choose between funding their classrooms and teaching their students to grow into healthy adults. We are proud to stand with our teachers in promoting our students’ health, not the profits of a multi-billion dollar corporation.”

Eric C. Heins, President of the California Teachers Association

“As educators we care deeply about the well-being and safety of our students. The science on this issue is clear: junk food is not only bad for children’s health, but is one of the leading causes of diseases like obesity and Type 2 diabetes. That is why we urge McDonald’s to stop targeting our children.”

Richard Stutman, President of the Boston Teachers Union

“Though McDonald’s claims McTeacher’s Nights are about fundraising, the truth is they’re about marketing. While McDonald’s reaps the PR benefits, teachers are forced to compromise their values and students are tricked into associating McDonald’s food with healthy eating practices—something that couldn’t be further from the truth.”

Mark Noltner, Teacher and parent

“When my daughter came home from school and told me the teachers were wearing McDonald’s shirts to promote an upcoming McTeacher’s Night, I was outraged. It’s hard enough helping my daughter navigate the minefield of unhealthy marketing; the last thing she needs is her teachers hawking junk food. And as a teacher myself, it infuriates me that McDonald’s would manipulate the trust that teachers develop with their students.”

Josh Golin, Executive Director, Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood

“Of all McDonald’s underhanded tactics to promote its brand to children, using teachers to lure elementary school students is the most unconscionable. Children are uniquely vulnerable to marketing, but when the pitchman for a product is their own teacher, they don’t stand a chance.”

Sriram Madhusoodanan, Director, Value [the] Meal campaign at Corporate Accountability International

“McTeacher’s Nights exploit budget shortfalls, co-opt and manipulate teachers and prey on children. Such a tactic lands McDonald’s squarely in the Hall of Shame, right next to its mentor, Big Tobacco. At a time when the public health community is decrying marketing in schools, this corporation shows it will stop at nothing to target our kids.”

The Network for Public Education created a list of questions that journalists should ask the candidates. In this post on, I explained NPE’s agenda to improve our public schools and to repel the corporate assault on them.

K-12 education issues, of huge importance to the future of our nation, were almost completely ignored in 2012. They should not be overlooked in 2016 because the very existence of public education is under attack. Billionaires hope to privatize urban districts, then move into the suburbs and elsewhere.

For those of us who believe that public education is a public responsibility, the time to become active is now.

We oppose the status quo of testing and privatization. We seek far better schools, equitable and well-resourced, where creativity and imagination are prized, not test scores. We seek equality of educational opportunity, not competition for scarce dollars.

Please join the Network for Public Education and help us build a new vision of education for each child.

If you have read recently that the U.S. Department of Education cracked down on predatory for-profit colleges, don’t believe it.

Read this story in today’s New York Times.

When the Obama administration agreed to erase the federal loan debt of some former students at Corinthian Colleges, a for-profit school that filed for bankruptcy in the face of charges of widespread fraud, education officials promised to “protect students from abusive colleges and safeguard the interests of taxpayers.”

But the Education Department, despite a crackdown against what it calls “bad actors,” continues to hand over tens of millions of dollars every month to other for-profit schools that have been accused of predatory behavior, substandard practices or illegal activity by its own officials or state attorneys general across the country.

Consider the Education Management Corporation, which runs 110 schools in the United States for chefs, artists and other trades. It has been investigated or sued in recent years by prosecutors in at least 12 states. The Justice Department has accused the company of illegally using incentives to pay its recruiters. And last year, investors filed a class-action lawsuit, contending that the company engaged in deceptive enrollment practices and manipulated federal student loan and grant programs.

Education Management nonetheless received more than $1.25 billion in federal money over the last school year.

The career training and for-profit college industry has been accused in recent years of preying on the poor, veterans and minorities by charging exorbitant fees for degrees that mostly fail to deliver promised skills and jobs.

Despite stepped-up scrutiny, hundreds of schools that have failed regulatory standards or been accused of violating legal statutes are still hauling in billions of dollars of government funds. They include tiny beauty schools with staggering loan default rates and online law schools with dismal graduation records and no bar association accreditation. Without government funds, which account for the overwhelming bulk of revenue, few of these institutions could attract students or stay in business.

The for-profit higher education industry hired the best lobbyists from both parties, and this is the result. Government-funded fraud against students goes on. Business as usual.


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