Archives for category: Privatization

Carl Paladino, a multimillionaire in Buffalo who ran on the Republican ticket for governor against Andrew Cuomo in the last election, got elected to the Buffalo, New York, school board.

 

He supports charter schools. He also invests in them.  He makes money investing in charter schools. “If I didn’t, I’d be a frigging idiot,” he said.

 

Conflict of interest?

 

PS: Sorry to say that the Buffalo newspaper removed this story from the Internet, although it still appears on Google.

This comes from “In the Public Interest,” an organization that reports on outsourcing and privatization, which is usually NOT in the public interest.

Donald Cohen writes:

As we approach Election Day, a number of governors in tight races are finding that privatizing public services isn’t good politics. But it may be good for campaign fundraisers seeking donations from corporations that want government contracts.

A new report released by the Center for Media and Democracy highlights the intensive efforts of governors seeking re-election to privatize important public services to private firms. Time after time, outsourcing has gone awry, generating worse outcomes for the public, scandals, lawsuits, and scorching headlines that are impacting the campaigns. The report includes examples from Florida, Kansas, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maine, and Wisconsin.

Here are examples from the report:

• In Michigan, Governor Rick Snyder outsourced prison food service to Aramark after the company spent half a million dollars on lobbying. The contract has been plagued by scandals, including maggots, employees smuggling drugs and having sex with inmates, and even murder-for-hire allegations.


• In Pennsylvania, Governor Tom Corbett has outsourced millions in legal contracts to major campaign contributors to defend ALEC-style voter ID legislation and other policies. The governor also attempted to privatize liquor sales, which would have benefited another set of deep-pocketed contributors like retail giant Walmart.
 Walmart donated $33,500 to Corbett’s campaign.

• In Florida, Governor Rick Scott has overseen a massive expansion of for-profit online schooling to companies that spent millions on lobbying. Scott signed a bill requiring every student to take online courses and tests benefiting firms like K12 Inc.

The outcomes of these races could very well be an important referendum on outsourcing and privatization. We’ll be watching.
Sincerely,

Donald Cohen
Executive Director
In the Public Interest

Marshall Tuck, running against educator Tom Torlakson, got a late infusion of huge campaign contributions.

Former Mayor Michael Blomberg sent $250,000.

Eli Broad sent two checks totaling $1,000,000.

Alice L. Walton of the Walmart family sent two gifts totaling $450,000.

Carrie Penner (of the same Walton family) sent $500,000.

Doris Fisher of the family that owns The Gap sent two gifts totaling $950,000.

Arthur Rock, a member of TFA’s board, sent $250,000.

Laurene Powell Jobs sent two checks totaling $500,000.

There are many other very large contributions, plus earlier contributions made by many of the same people.

The reformers really, really, really want to elect Tuck.

Think of the expansion of privatization!

Think of having a charter advocate running the State Department of Education. Their guy!!

Do the voters know about this? Are they informed? Will they allow the billionaires to buy this job?

 

Joseph A. Ricciotti, a former professor at Fairfield University in Connecticut, wrote the following post:

 

One of the most alarming reports concerning the corporate education reform movement and the growth of Common Core in the country was published by Lee Fang in the Nation magazine. Fang’s report highlights how public education is now considered as the last “honeypot” for venture capitalists and Wall Street investors. Investors’ interest in public education as a money making venture was made crystal clear by attendance at the recent annual investment conference in Scottsdale, Arizona which skyrocketed from 370 people the previous year to over 2000 this year. Likewise, the number of companies presenting at the conference increased from 70 to 390, mostly technology companies. It is also no surprise that Jeb Bush, one of the leading advocates of Common Core in the country, was the keynote speaker at the conference. According to Fang, venture capitalists and for-profit education firms “are salivating over the potential 788 billion dollar K-12 education market.”

More and more politicians are learning that, based on the type of corporate reform education policies that they are espousing, these policies will more than likely also impact and lessen their chances of reelection. Take, for example, Governor Dannel Malloy in Connecticut and Mayor Rahm Emmanuel of Chicago, two Democrats who will be seeking reelection in the near future. Both of these political leaders have chosen to advocate typical corporate education reform policies that are basically anti-teacher in nature and have implemented education policies such as advocating charter schools over traditional public schools. Not surprisingly, we may be in for some stunning upsets in the upcoming elections.

In Connecticut, Governor Malloy chose Stefan Pryor as his Commissioner of Education who is not an educator and who has had a history as a charter school advocate. Hence, as a result, we have seen in Connecticut an unprecedented growth of Charter Schools over the past four years with dismal results as well as scandals involving some of their leaders. The appointment of Paul Vallas in Bridgeport as superintendent was another fiasco.

 

Pryor’s abrupt resignation with no appointment of a replacement in the cards until after the election does not bode well for any indication of change in Malloy’s corporate education policies. Moreover, Malloy may have dug himself into a hole based on the most recent poles and could face extinction come the November election.

Rahm Emmanuel’s actions in closing fifty of Chicago’s public schools has been the catalyst in generating numerous protests from parents and teachers. His battles with the head of the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU), Karen Lewis, may have resulted in a challenge emanating from the CTU against Rahm Emmanuel for the mayoral seat in the next election. The many protests in Chicago are conveying a message to Rahm Emmanuel that, although he is the mayor, he is not really the leader of the people in Chicago as the protestors themselves are the real leaders. As Naomi Klein has said as an outgrowth of the recent climate change march in New York City, when the leaders refuse to take the appropriate action, the people will become the leaders and take whatever action is needed to bring about necessary change.

This is what is happening today with accountability- based reform or a better term is corporate education reform. These policies throughout the country and especially with the less affluent children in urban schools where the Common Core State Standards are being implemented we find that parents are seething with discontent as they observe and witness the massive failure rate of their children on Common Core tests. As more and more Common Core tests are administered with massive numbers of children failing these tests, there will be a revolution that may serve as the catalyst for change.

Unfortunately, teachers cannot be a part of the Common Core revolt as any dissatisfaction or criticism on their part could be construed as insubordination with possible loss of employment. Hence, the parents of students in public schools will have to be the ones leading the revolt. We have in public education today many non-educators with leadership positions who place the interests of Wall Street and the Corporate sector above the interests of students. And, unfortunately, the corporate reform industry has a stronghold in Connecticut as an outgrowth of Governor Malloy and Stefan Pryor’s corporate reform policies. However, according to Diane Ravitch, author of best selling “Reign of Error,” the corporate education reformists may have all the money but we have the teachers and parents and “we will win” the battle for public education.

Jaime Franchi of the Long Island Press provides here a succinct and accurate summary of the first ever Public Education Nation. The event was held on October 11 at the Brooklyn New School, a public school where 80% of the students opted out of state testing.

 

The discussions were lively and included people who were watching on live stream. This is the first of what we hope to make an annual event. We is the Network for Public Education.

 

Go to the website and  you can join (oops, I see it has not been updated to include links to the panels yet). Keep watching and you will be able to see our great presenters.

This just in from Atlanta.

 

Federal Judge Timothy C. Batten, Sr., has appointed a special receiver to operate the “business” of Mosaica, which, according to the complaint and motion filed by its creditor, Tatonka Capital, has $20 million in unpaid debt and $10 million in operating losses in the last year. The receiver will be responsible for the continued operations of all the charter schools now being run by Mosaica.

 

This is the riskiness of the charter business. Mosaica is a “for-profit” charter business that is not making a profit and is instead deep in debt.

 

It is amazing the children are turned over to for-profit corporations for their education.

 

This is one of the dangers of “reform,” in which the motivating goal is profit, not education.

The Los Angeles Times reports that KIPP plans to double its enrollment in Los Angeles over the next six years.

 

KIPP has received many millions in gifts from the U.S. Department of Education, the Walton Foundation, the Gates Foundation, and others committed to privatizing the public schools.

 

“KIPP LA currently operates 11 schools that serve about 4,000 students; by 2020, the organization wants to grow to 9,000 students in 20 schools.”

 

In the second-largest district in the nation, 9,000 is not a significant number, but the ripple effect will cause the closure of public schools in the district.

 

 

 

 

Warren Simmons, president of the Annenberg Institute, here releases a set of rules for the operation of charter schools intended to make them transparent and accountable. The question he raises is whether charters can become not only more transparent and accountable, but can they operate without damaging public schools.

 

The report recognizes that some charters have no interest in accountability or transparency. Indeed, there are so many well-documented cases of fraud and abuse that it is hard to be sure that this industry can be regulated, especially when it has often made sizable campaign contributions to legislators in a position to write regulations.

 

The Annenberg report begins:

 

In the last two decades, charter schools have grown into a national industry with 2.5 million students, more than 6,000 schools, and a burgeoning market of management services, vendors, policy shops, and advocacy organizations. State laws and charter authorizing standards have not kept up with this explosive growth.

Although most charter operators work hard to meet the needs of their students, the lack of effective oversight means no guarantee of academic innovation or excellence, too many cases of fraud and abuse, and too little attention to equity. The standards and policy recommendations in this report aim to ensure that there is a level playing field between traditional public schools and public charter schools and that charters are fully transparent and accountable to the communities they serve.

 

Frankly, we can’t even be sure that the majority of charter operators are in the business for themselves or for their students. Many of the small one-off charters have been replaced by charter chains that operate as chains usually do: with a commitment to the bottom line. I don’t think that White Hat in Ohio or Imagine or K12 Inc. or Academica in Florida will change their operations in response to this report.

 

Here is a summary of their recommendations: Read the full report for the detailed recommendations:

 

Traditional school districts and charter schools should collaborate to ensure a coordinated approach that serves all children

School governance should be representative and transparent

Charter schools should ensure equal access to interested students and prohibit practices that discourage enrollment or disproportionately push-out enrolled students

Charter school discipline policy should be fair and transparent

All students deserve equitable and adequate school facilities. Districts and charter schools should collaborate to ensure facility arrangements do not disadvantage students in either sector

Online charter schools should be better regulated for quality, transparency and the protection of student data

Monitoring and oversight of charter schools are critical to protect the public interest; they should be strong and fully state funded

 

Meanwhile, Peter Greene has a test to tell whether or not a charter school is a public school. It must meet four criteria.

 

It must be financially transparent.

 

It must be accountable to the voters.

 

It must “play by the rules,” for example, hiring accredited teachers.

 

It must serve the entire population, not just those it wants to serve.

 

How many charters would pass this test?

 

 

Three incumbents on the Indianapolis school board have collectively raised about $6,000.

Their opponents have raised over $100,000 from corporate reformers who want to bring more charters to the district. Follow the money.

 

The challengers are heavily funded by groups like anti-teacher, anti-union, pro-privatization Stand for Children, the Chamber of Commerce, and big contributors from across the nation. Clearly, the corporate reformers want to hasten the pace of privatization.

 

Stand for Children has sponsored anti-teacher, anti-union legislation in Illinois and in Massachusetts.

 

Will voters in Indianpolis allow the corporate reformers to buy control of their public schools and turn them into privately managed charters? If you live in Indianapolis, defend your community’s public schools. Tell the corporate reformers they are not for sale.

 

A coalition of pastors in Dallas has issued a stirring call for public support of public schools.

This comes at a time when billionaire John Arnold has been organizing a campaign to turn Dallas into an all-charter district.

Leading pastors in Dallas–George Mason and Frederick Haynes, joined with four others–wrote an opinion piece, in which they said that public support for public schools is vital and that “choice” is illusory. .

They write:

Eighty-four percent of children in this country attend public schools. Slightly more than 60 percent (over 3 million of our 5 million Texas public school students) are identified as poor. These children in our public education system are our neighbors, and we are called to love them by providing a vibrant and thriving school system. That’s why Dallas-area pastors are calling on elected officials and leaders in the business, faith, parent, labor and neighborhood communities to support the public schools of greater Dallas…..

By investing in public education, we invest in the future of 5 million Texas schoolchildren. This basic investment is the key to a child’s future economic mobility, the financial stability of Texas families and the state’s long-term economic prosperity. Dallas residents know the direct correlation between education achievement and economic viability.

We must prioritize the adequate funding of our institutions of public education for the benefit of all Texans. The past two sessions of the Legislature have seen contentious fights over public education policy. Because public education is such a sound investment in our children’s future, one wonders: What’s the dispute?

There are two competing visions for public education: one weakens the public portion, and one strengthens it. On one side, there is a drive to defund public education, de-professionalize teaching, misuse test scores to declare schools as failing, and institute paths to privatize schools in the name of school reform. These privatization schemes take the form of private school vouchers, for-profit virtual schools, and corporate chain charter schools that do not serve all students equally.

The other vision, a vision which we embrace, is to provide adequate funding for all schools, raise the bar with higher standards and more respect for the teaching profession, focus on a rich instructional program instead of a narrow overemphasis on testing, and engage community partners in support for neighborhood schools and the children and families they serve.

Those advocating privatization have attacked the public school system and falsely labeled neighborhood schools failures. This arbitrary judgment has been exposed as a cynical strategy to divert public education money for private purposes, and has brought advocates like us to the fight against privatization and in support of initiatives that tell the true story about the value of our public schools.

The “choice” that corporate chain charters and private schools claim to offer parents and students is illusory. It is really these private operators who exercise their own freedom to choose which students they will recruit and retain and which students they will exclude or filter out. And the latter group will disproportionately include Hispanics, African-Americans, English language learners, students with disabilities and students who are at risk because of disciplinary or academic difficulties. These children are our neighbors, too.

We join with Dallas community leaders and parents who understand that we must keep our attention upon the real and pressing — and constitutionally mandated — need for full funding for public education. Dabbling in political diversions that are peripheral to the adequate education of all the children of Texas is dangerous and foolhardy. This is not the time to divert funding away from our neighborhood schools, which provide a place of refuge and support for all Texas children, no matter their background, situation or educational need. More important, it is the loving thing to do.

George Mason is senior pastor at Wilshire Baptist Church. Reach him at gmason@wilshirebc.org. Frederick Haynes is senior pastor at Friendship-West Baptist Church. Reach him through the church at friendship west.org/main/contact-us.

OPEN LETTER: Other signers
Joe Clifford, senior pastor, First Presbyterian Church, Dallas
Bryan Carter, senior pastor, Concord Baptist Church, Dallas
Joel Sanchez, preaching minister, Skillman Church of Christ, Dallas
Andy Stoker, senior minister, First United Methodist Church

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