A reader sends this comment:

“Dr. Ravitch refers to a “push to introduce charters to Idaho.” Idaho has had charter schools since 1991, though the initial legislation authorizing them has been so often revised by the Legislature that Idaho’s Office of Performance Evaluation recently reported that there is little difference between Idaho charter schools and traditional public schools, and that Idaho charter schools no longer live up to the legislative intent of the laws that created them. (See “Policy Differences Between Charter and Traditional Schools” http://legislature.idaho.gov/ope/publications/reports/r1304.pdf)

Dr. Ravitch. may be referring to the Rural Opportunities Consortium of Idaho, a 9-member task force formed in August that is assisted by an advisory group consisting of the task-force chair Paul Hill, founder of the Center on Reinventing Public Education; Jamie MacMillan, executive director of the Albertson Foundation; Mary Wells, managing partner and co-founder of Bellwether Education Partners; and Andy Smarick, a partner at Bellwether. Bellwether is an organization founded and populated by hedge-fund managers and venture capitalists with ties to NewSchools Venture Fund. Upon its creation, NewSchools Venture Fund CEO Ted Mitchell described Bellwether as “a new nonprofit consulting organization designed to strengthen the leadership and organizational capacity of entrepreneurial education organizations by offering specialized executive search, strategic consulting, leadership development, and thought leadership services.”

Andrew Rotherham is on the 9-member task force; he is also a partner at Bellwether. He’s joined by Marguerita Roza, senior research associate at the Center for Reinventing Education, and by Terry Ryan, former VP for Ohio Programs and Policy at the right-wing Thomas B. Fordham Institute. Mr. Ryan is the new president of the Idaho Charter Schools Network. Idaho taxpayers can only hope and pray that he is unable to achieve in Idaho the results he achieved in Ohio, where for-profit charter schools have wreaked havoc on public school finances while embroiling themselves in scandal after scandal involving tax evasion, fraud, and misappropriation of tax dollars.

With the lineup listed here, one can easily imagine that any recommendations coming from the Rural Opportunities Consortium of Idaho will be steeped in the New Markets Tax Credits Program, which enables hedge-fund managers and venture capitalist to almost double their money in seven years by financing the building and operation of charter schools. Vouchers, no doubt, will also be part of the plan, as will the use of tax dollars to fund private and parochial schools.

More about the Rural Opportunities Consortium of Idaho is available here: