Tom Ultican has written several articles about the Destroy Public Education Movement; this installment examines a failing charter chain in San Diego that continues to rake in big bucks.

The Thrive charter chain, he says, is a masterpiece of marketing, but a failure at education.

When the chain was launched, the San Diego Unified School District staff said it was not ready to open; the founders appealed and were rejected by the staff of the County Board of Education. The founders appealed to the State Board of Education, where its defective application was rubberstamped by Governor Jerry Brown’s pro-Charter State Board.

Ultican says that charter schools are supposed to perform at least as well as similar public schools or show improvement over time.

Thrive charter schools did not meet either benchmark. But that did not deter funders or founders.

They were shameless and kept growing their failing charter chain. And the money kept rolling in, to expand the failure to more children.

“Once she obtained the charter authorization from the SBE, money came. The known list of 2014 donations: Buzz Woolley’s Girard Foundation granted her $108,000; Gate’s Educause sent $254,500; Charter School Growth Fund kicked in $175,000 and the Broad Foundation delivered $150,000 for a total of $688,000. The next year, Broad gave another $50,000 and the New Schools Venture Fund pitched in $100,000. There is another $144,000 promised from Educause.

“Destroy public education (DPE) careers pay well. Tax records reveal that Nicole’s start up “non-profit” has been lucrative. Her pay: year one $122,301; year two $133,747 and year three $142,541. Her husband holds a senior management position at the CCSA which means DPE money flows his way as well.”

In 2017, the charter chain added another school, this one paid for by taxpayers, but with this addendum. The property belongs not to taxpayer who paid for it, but TO THE CHARTER OWNERS! How cool is that!

You will not be surprised to learn that the pro-privatization website “The 74,” is wild about Thrive. Nor will you be be surprised to discover that Thrive loves putting kids on computers and that one of its cheerleaders is Tom Vanderbilt Ark, a leading salesman for edtech.

Ultican reminds us that the Thrive charter chain calls itself “public schools,” but it is a private contractor that runs lucrative but failing schools. All that keeps them going is this formula:

“Bad schools like TPS survive because they are good at marketing; have deep pocketed benefactors and political allies.”

Thrive is not thriving.

Ultican says Thrive is evidence that California needs a moratorium on charter schools until lawmakers systematically root out fraud, self-dealing, waste, and abuse. That’ll be the day.