Archives for category: For-Profit

The Leona Group, a for-profit charter corporation that runs the schools of Highland Park, Michigan, will not offer high school classes next year. It will also end its contract one year early. And enrollment in the schools has dropped by 40% since the for-profit takeover. It is just not that profitable to offer high school.

 

Leona is closing the only high school in the district, and students were stunned.

 

Hannah, a rising junior, said the students were shocked and upset. “A lot of us couldn’t believe that they’d close the only high school in Highland Park,” she told the World Socialist Web Site. “We thought they couldn’t do that, because where would we go? But the superintendent called us all down to a meeting in the lunchroom and said she had done everything humanly possible to try to keep the school open.

 
“It’s really crazy. I am going to miss this school.”

 
A community meeting has been scheduled for Monday, June 8, for parents and students scrambling to find new schools. They will be assigned to the Detroit Public Schools (DPS) system and reportedly will be offered enrollment at DPS schools, a range of other charter operations, as well as slots in the so-called “failing school district” run by the state’s Education Achievement Authority.

 
Displaced students, facing the hardship of much longer commutes, will be given bus passes. This hardly compensates for the potentially drastic increase in commute times. For a student to take a bus from the current high school, Highland Park Renaissance, to the closest DPS high school, Pershing, would require three buses. Wait times in the city are beyond onerous in the former “Motor City” where buses can be hours late. A single bus ride could take students to Cass Tech High School; however, that school has a very selective application process.

 
Hannah said she would be spending her senior year at the Detroit Public Service Academy. DPSA is another Leona Group-run charter school, whose students are called “cadets” and specialize in police, military and emergency responder skills.

 
“It’s not that I want to do that kind of work,” she explained, “I want to do culinary arts, but they’ll have other subjects too. The DPSA will provide buses right at the CVS to get you to the school. If your parents can’t take you to a further school, you need to do what you have to, to get an education.”

 

It’s all about the kids. The state of Michigan has washed its hands of responsibility or accountability for public education.

Stephen Dyer helped to create the marvelous Know Your Charter website for Ohio. Here he summarizes the awful week that charters have had in a state where GOP politicians and business leaders have embraced them.

Dyer writes:

“On Saturday, the Akron Beacon Journal (again) led the way on enterprise reporting on this topic by publishing an analysis of 4,263 audits done last year by the Auditor of State revealed that

“No sector — not local governments, school districts, court systems, public universities or hospitals — misspends tax dollars like charter schools in Ohio.”

Yikes.

“Among the findings:

“While charters only accounted for 400 of 5,800 audits, they accounted for 70% of the misspent money

“$25 million in misspent money remains unpaid

“For every $1 misspent found by private auditors, public auditors found $102
The misspending is probably worse than what the audits turned up because so many charters were next to impossible to audit, according to the Beacon Journal.

“Then came a Columbus Dispatch editorial (historically, no friend of the charter critic) that called out charter school sponsors for wanting to hide their expenditures to oversee the sector, except in limited cases — an argument not much different from one I made about the same time.”

Add to that charter school closings, convictions of charter officials for financial crimes, and more.

If this keeps up, the public will begin to associate “charters” with fraud, greed, and corruption.

Doug Livingston of the Beacon-Journal writes that Ohio’s charter schools are notoriously wasteful with taxpayer dollars. And he predicts it will get worse because auditing of charters has been privatized. For some reason, private auditors are far less likely to uncover financial abuses.

“No sector — not local governments, school districts, court systems, public universities or hospitals — misspends tax dollars like charter schools in Ohio.

“A Beacon Journal review of 4,263 audits released last year by State Auditor Dave Yost’s office indicates charter schools misspend public money nearly four times more often than any other type of taxpayer-funded agency.

“Since 2001, state auditors have uncovered $27.3 million improperly spent by charter schools, many run by for-profit companies, enrolling thousands of children and producing academic results that rival .

“And the extent of the misspending could be far higher.

“That’s because Yost and his predecessors, unable to audit all charter schools with limited staffing and overwhelmed by the dramatic growth in the schools, have farmed out most charter-school audits to private accounting firms.”

Six members of the board of an Imagine charter school in Columbus, Ohio, resigned en masse “amid ongoing concerns about a high-cost building lease, teacher turnover and adequate services for students.” They were promptly replaced by the for-profit chain.

The school paid an enormous lease fee to a management company owned the the charter chain.

“The previous board “explored” closing the school with 150 students attending after clashing with Imagine Schools over several issues, including the academy’s $58,000-a-month lease.

“The lease is with SchoolHouse Finance, a subsidiary of Imagine Schools Inc., raising questions about a possible conflict of interest.

“Board members complained that the $700,000 annual lease consumes too much of the school’s $1.3 million annual budget. According to the Franklin County auditor’s office, the building, at 4656 Heaton Rd., is valued at $1,164,600.

“Schoolhouse Finance purchased the building in 2005 for $1.5 million and made $2.6 million worth of improvements, according to the auditor’s website. SchoolHouse sold the building in 2006 for $5.2 million to a real-estate investment trust, then leased it back from the trust to charge rent to the school.

“I am disappointed we couldn’t close the school. We felt it was the right thing to do,” said Leon Sinoff, a board member who resigned on May 27.

“The school opened in the 2013-14 school year, just months after another Imagine School that occupied the same building under a different sponsor was closed for poor academic performance.”

School opens, school closes, school opens. Through it all, the corporation’s profits grow.

This cartoon summarizes Jeb Bush’s education record. He is best known for championing high-stakes testing, A-F school grades, supporting Common Core, charters, vouchers, third-grade retention, and anything that. Strips away job protections from teachers. He boasts of the “Florida miracle,” but it refers mostly to 4th grade NAEP scores, which are likely boosted by third-grade retention and by the state’s class-size reduction policy, adopted by popular referendum but opposed by Bush. The miracle disappears by high school, as Florida’s high school graduation rate is below that of Alabama, which had no miracle.

 

David Sirota reported in International Business Times that Jeb Bush steered Florida’s pension funds toward campaign contributors. He also pressed for legislation to shield these contributions from public view.

 

Sirota wrote:

 

Jeb Bush received the request from one of his campaign contributors, a man who made his living managing money: Could the then-governor of Florida make an introduction to state pension overseers? The donor was angling to gain some of the state’s investment for his private fund.

 

It was 2003, still a few years before regulators would begin prosecuting public officials for directing pension investment deals to political allies. Bush obliged, putting the donor, Jon Kislak, in touch with the Florida pension agency’s executive director. Then he followed up personally, according to emails reviewed by the International Business Times, ensuring that Kislak’s proposal was considered by state decision makers.

 

Here was a moment that at once underscored Jeb Bush’s personal attention to political allies and his embrace of the financial industry, which has delivered large donations to his campaigns. Email records show it was one of a series of such conversations Bush facilitated between pension staff and private companies at a time when his administration was shifting billions of dollars of state pension money — the retirement savings for teachers, firefighters and cops — into the control of financial firms.

 

Florida officials say Kislak’s firm was not among the beneficiaries of that shift. But verifying that assertion is virtually impossible for an ordinary citizen by dint of another hallmark of Bush’s governorship: At the same time that he entrusted Wall Street with Florida retirement money, he also championed legislation that placed the state’s pension portfolio behind a wall of secrecy.

 

The anti-privatization organization “In the Public Interest” filed a public records request and obtained emails between Bush’s Foundation for Educational Excellence and public officials. Read them here.

The United States never allowed for-profit “public schools” until the charter industry emerged. Now they are spreading.

Jim Hall, a retired principal in Arizona, has formed Arizonans for Charter School Accoubtability to expose their sleazy deals and to show how children and taxpayers are cheated.

Jim Hall is a hero of public education, helping to save a democratic institution from profiteers.

He gathered information about two of the state’s many for-profit charters are using tax dollars to make big profits, while public schools are suffering continual cutbacks. It was shared in the mainstream media.

CBS 5 in Phoenix reported:

PHOENIX (CBS5) – A Valley charter school watchdog is criticizing large charter management chains for directing more dollars away from the classroom than most traditional public schools.

“These schools are made to make a profit,” said Jim Hall, the founder of Arizonans for Charter School Accountability and retired longtime Valley school principal.

“Someone needs to find out how they’re spending their money, and there needs to be transparency,” Hall said.

CBS 5 Investigates examined budget data and IRS tax filings for dozens of charter schools. Among the findings:

Some charter management chains spend as little as 40 percent of their budgets in the classroom, directing as much as 60 percent of their budgets to administrative expenses, plant operations and debt payments for facilities. Traditional school districts spent an average of 54 percent of their budgeted dollars in the classroom during the 2013-14 school years, according the Arizona Auditor General’s Office. The comparison may not be “apples to apples” because charters pay real estate costs out of their operating budgets while traditional school districts do not.

Some nonprofit chains outsource daily operations to for-profit charter management companies. Two examples in Arizona include the Leona Group and Imagine Schools.

Over 100 international organizations signed a statement critical of privatization of education in Kenya and Uganda. They specifically criticized the World Bank for endorsing a for-profit chain of schools called Bridge International Academies. According to the statement released today, “BIA is backed by Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Pierre Omidiyar, and multinational publishing company Pearson, among others. It operates in Kenya and Uganda, with plans to invest in Nigeria, India and other countries. It now has close to 120,000 pupils enrolled in more than 400 schools.” The endorsers of the statement believe these countries need free public education with qualified teachers, not for-profit schools with untrained teachers.

The press release, with links, reads as follows:

Over 100 organisations around the world express deep concerns about the World Bank support for privatisation in education

Press release – 14 May 2015
(Nairobi, Kampala, Washington DC, Brussels)

Today, more than one hundred national and international organisations across the world released a joint open statement addressed to the president of the World Bank, Jim Kim. The statement expresses their deep concerns about the World Bank’s expressed support for the development of a multinational chain of low-fee profit-making private primary schools targeting poor families in Kenya and Uganda, Bridge International Academies (BIA). It comes as a response to a recent speech of the president of the World Bank, Jim Kim, who praised BIA as a means to alleviate poverty.

With signatories including community-based, national, and international organisations, as well as networks and trade unions representing thousands of organisations and millions of individuals in five continents, the statement reflects a growing global movement questioning policies in support for private education in developing countries, including from the World Bank. The statement was written and signed by 30 organisations in Uganda and Kenya, which are the countries primarily affected by the World Bank policy, and received the additional support of 116 organisations.

BIA uses highly standardised teaching methods, untrained low-paid teachers, and aggressive marketing strategies to target poor households, building on their aspiration to a better life to sell them its services.

According to a resident of Mathare, one of the oldest informal settlements in Nairobi, where BIA operates:

“Bridge, they come here, but they don’t understand how things work. They don’t work with other schools, with the community. They just come from door to door to sell their product.”

Nevertheless, the World Bank has invested 10 million dollars in BIA, while on the other hand it has no active or planned investments in either Kenya or Uganda’s public basic education systems.

In his speech delivered earlier in April, Jim Kim claimed that that “average scores for reading and math have risen high above their public school peers” in Bridge International Academies. Yet, the source of the data quoted by Jim Kim has not been disclosed by the World Bank, and it appears to have been taken directly from a study conducted by BIA itself.

The World Bank president further stated that “the cost per student at Bridge Academies is just $6 dollars a month”. This suggestion that $6 is an acceptable amount of money for poor households to pay reveals a profound lack of understanding of the reality of the lives of the poorest. Kenyan and Ugandan organisations have calculated that for half of the population in Kenya and Uganda, spending $6 per month per child to send three primary school age children to a Bridge Academy would cost at least a quarter of their monthly income – whereas these families are already struggling to be able to provide three meals a day to their children.

Moreover, the real total cost of sending one child to a Bridge school may in fact be between $9 and $13 a month, and up to $20 when including school meals. Based on these figures, sending three children to BIA would represent 68% (in Kenya) to 75% (in Uganda) of the monthly income of half the population in these countries.

Salima Namusobya, the Director of the Initiative for Socio-Economic Rights, a Ugandan organisation that also signed the joint statement, said:

“If the World Bank is genuine about fulfilling its mission to provide every child with the chance to have a high-quality primary education regardless of their family’s income, they should be campaigning for a no-fee system in particular contexts like that of Uganda.
The speech from Jim Kim came shortly after members of civil society from several countries, including Uganda, met with senior education officials of the World Bank specifically to discuss its support for fee-charging, private primary schools, and funding for BIA in particular.

It also comes at a time where there is an unprecedented increase in financing of private education across the world, especially in Africa, often with the support of foreign investors. These investments have attracted equally growing criticism, including in a recent report highlighting how the UK government, via its Department for International Development (DfID), supports privatising education and health services. DfID is also an investor in Bridge International Academies.
The organisations’ statement calls on the World Bank in particular to stop promoting and cease investing in Bridge International Academies and other fee-charging, private providers of basic education, and instead to support the free, public, quality education which the laws applicable in Kenya, Uganda, and other countries require.

Notes

BIA is backed by Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Pierre Omidiya, and multinational publishing company Pearson, among others. It operates in Kenya and Uganda, with plans to invest in Nigeria, India and other countries. It now has close to 120,000 pupils enrolled in more than 400 schools.

Documents

* The statement can be found on http://bit.ly/statementWBprivatisation

* The letter accompanying the statement sent to Jim Kim, and which sums up the arguments made in the statement, can be found on http://bit.ly/letterWBprivatisation

* For more information on privatisation in education and projects currently being run, check http://bit.ly/privatisationproject.

* Follow the hashtag #EducationBeforeProfit on social media

Contacts

David Edwards, Education International Deputy General Secretary, via email: David.Edwards@ei-ie.org or mobile: 0032 473 84 73 61

Education International
Internationale de l’Éducation
Internacional de la Educación

Communications,
Head Office|5 bd du Roi Albert II|1210 Brussels |Belgium
Tel.:+32 2 224
06 11 | Fax: +32 2 224 06 06 | http://www.ei-ie.org

The industry that has been the most effective in buying protection in D.C, for its predatory practices is the for-profit college industry. It has hired the top lobbyist in both parties. It makes generous campaign contributions. It collects billions from taxpayers to underwrite its behavior. All of this money is used to enrich the industry leaders. Need I add that these institutions are known for predatory practices and for supplying a lousy education.

This article, written by David Halperin and published in The Nation, lays bare the power of this industry and how well it has used its resources to avoid scrutiny of it. The article appeared nearly one year ago.

Now Halperin has published a new article, predicting the end of the predatory colleges. He cites the bankruptcy of mega-chain Corinthian Colleges as a hopeful sign. He thinks that Washington is ready to take them on. Count me cynical. I will believe it when it happens.

Historians and teacher John Thompson wonders whether Arne Duncan and other reformers will ever be held for the failed reforms of the past 14 years?

“To try to protect every patient, doctors order screening tests. Accountability systems exist to ensure the quality of those systems and their proper usage. It would make no sense to punish doctors and technicians for the results that their tests produce (although some healthcare reformers sound like they want to do so). Accountability systems also monitor the professionalism and practice of the healthcare providers who use them. Doctors, however, would not submit to the type of output-driven accountability regimes that are being imposed on teachers.”

When will reformers admit that test-and-punish policies have failed?

When will they be accountable?

Our blog poet writes a poem for Pearson:

Pearson cares deeply…

about what’s in their pocketses

“Stopping by schools on a doughy evening’ (with apologies to Robert Frost)

Whose schools these are I think I know
Their houses are in the village though
They will not see the Pearson test
And see their schools farmed out for dough

The classroom teacher thinks I jest
Reform without an expert guest
Between the test and Common Core
And iPads, VAMs and all the rest

She spots her pink slip on the door
And curses her value-added score
The only other sounds the sweep
Of janitor broom on hallway floor

The pockets are lovely, dark and deep
And I have promi$e$ to keep
And million$ to make before I sleep
And million$ to make before I sleep

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