A reader asks a reasonable question, perhaps wondering why states like Ohio and Pennsylvania continue to authorize cyber charters despite their abysmal results.

He brings up Michael Milken, who was convicted on charges of securities fraud and tax violation and sent to jail in 1990. According to his bio on Wikipedia, Milken made $1 billion a year and was paid out about $1.1 billion in fines and settlements of claims. One way to understand what is happening in education today is to read Connie Bruck’s book about Milken, the junk bond king, in Predator’s Ball. Junk bonds and leveraged buyouts led to lots of “creative destruction” of familiar brand names.

Today, Milken is a leading figure in the education reform movement.

He is one of the founders of the nation’s biggest cyber charter chain, K12. His foundation invests in merit pay (which as I have previously observed, never works); it gives awards annually to outstanding teachers. One does wonder if it is appropriate for an ex-felon to run schools that receive public funding. I don’t think he could work in a school because schools–at least, public schools– usually fingerprint future employees and don’t hire ex-cons. Cyber charters make a lot of money for their sponsors, but they provide a low-quality education, if you judge it by academic results.

I don’t understand the concept of “legal fraud”. Is that just reserved for corporations and some politicians?Re: CorporationsMilken owns K12 Inc and they are operating in 32 states + DC:http://www.k12.com/schools-programs/online-public-schoolsMilken is a convicted felon who admitted to and was imprisoned for fraud related to fiscal managment. Today, he typically says he’s just an investor in his companies and I believe he tries to conceal his real involvement in them by playing a kind of corporate musical chairs. At the very least, state government officials should be able to track and identify his true involvement in his companies and prevent those companies from receiving public funds on the basis of his felony convictions over money matters. I think it’s possible to do, because the feds prevented him from obtaining financial aid for a university he owned, since his felony convictions were related to violating US securities laws. Perhaps it’s because they were violations of federal laws and not state laws, but one would think the issue is more about fraud involving money, rather than jurisdiction.Re: Certain PoliticiansMy city’s former mayor of 22 years got our city into some truly terrible long-term contracts that privatized some public services, in order to cover fiscal deficits, including a 75 year parking-meter contract and a 99 year parking garage contract. Parking rates immediately skyrocketed and that is going to be lasting our ENTIRE lifetimes. This former mayor now works for the very law firm that negotiated that parking-meter deal:


I just don’t get why these kinds of things look like fraud and yet might be legal. Are there that many loopholes?

It’s particularly disconcerting when the politicians who do such things are attorneys who are familiar with the law –and the loopholes, too, I guess. This mayor was previously a State’s Attorney. Our last two governors, who were also lawyers, are currently serving time in prison for crimes they commited while in office.

One has to wonder why some people manage to avoid prosecution or sanctions while others don’t. Admittedly, I’m sometimes glad when little people, with little money and little crimes that don’t have victims are not targeted, but when we’re talking about big people, with big money and big crimes that impact millions of folks, not so much.