Those of you who read my postings know I am trying to educate you on the dangers of Charter/Choice/Vouchers. Outside of it being the road to a Federal takeover of education, it is a proverbial “money tree” and they are using your children as “human collateral.” In this posting I have used Florida Charter School Management companies because it is where I live. My suggestion is that you check what is happening with the Charter schools in your state.
Actually some of these charter school management companies do operate in multiple states.
One warm Thursday in July, dozens upon dozens of bankers, hedge fund types and private equity investors gathered in New York to hear about the latest and greatest opportunities to collect a cut of your property taxes. Of course, the promotional material for the Capital Roundtable’s conference on “private equity investing in for-profit education companies” didn’t put it in such crass terms, but that’s what was going on.
Charter schools are booming with the push of the federal and state governments. “There are now more than 6,400 in the United States, up from 2,500 a decade ago, educating a record 2.5 million children,” according to Reuters.
Charters have a limited admissions policy, and the applications can be as complex as those at private schools. But parents don’t pay tuition and support comes directly from the school district in which the charter is located. This is the same $$ allotted to each child attending a regular public school only at a lessor percentage. They are also lucrative, attracting players like the specialty real estate investment trust EPR Properties(EPR). Charter schools are in the firm’s $3 billion portfolio along with retail space and movie megaplexes.
Charter schools are frequently a way for politicians to reward their cronies. In Ohio, two firms operate 9% of the state’s charter schools and are collecting 38% of the state’s charter school funding increase this year. The operators of both firms donate generously to elect Republicans.
The Arizona Republic found that charters “bought a variety of goods and services from the companies of board members or administrators, including textbooks, air conditioning repairs and transportation services.” Most charters were exempt from a requirement to seek competitive bids on contracts over $5,000.
In Florida, the for-profit school industry flooded legislative candidates with $1.8 million in donations last year. “Most of the money,” reports The Miami Herald, “went to Republicans, whose support of charter schools, vouchers, online education and private colleges has put public education dollars in private-sector pockets.”
Florida also created a major piece of legislation protecting public-private partnerships involved in education and other financial ventures. They also have legislators who vote on charter school legislation while owning or receiving financial gains from charter schools. Legislators in Florida are allowed to sit on Jeb Bush’s foundation (FEE) which includes the state’s commissioner of education. The money flows heavy in Florida.
Don’t misunderstand me – there are other state legislators, state superintendents and commissioners of education from several states along with Arne Duncan, David Coleman, Condoleezza Rice, and Richard N. Haass (Pres. CFR) who are “reformers” on the Jeb Bush Foundation, not just Florida. No matter where they are from you cannot “serve more than one master without hating one and loving the other or holding to one and despising the other”.
Among the big donors: the private equity firm Apollo Group, the outfit behind the for-profit University of Phoenix, which has experimented with online high schools. Apollo dropped $95,000 on Florida candidates and committees.
Lest you get the idea charter schools are a “Republican” thing, they are also favored by big-city Democrats. When 23 public schools closed for good in Philadelphia — about 10% of the total — they were replaced by charters. Charters have a history in Washington, D.C., going back to 1996 and they also have a strong home in Chicago.
They were favored by Arne Duncan when he ran the Chicago Public Schools. In 2009, Duncan rolled out the Obama administration’s “Race to the Top” initiative, doling out $4.4 billion in federal money to the states — but only to those states that lifted their caps on the number of charter schools and agreed to play the Common Core Standards game.
After Katrina, New Orleans went totally off the grid opting to make all their schools Charter schools. Is anyone really looking at these schools as to what curriculum they are using? Who is minding the store? New Orleans is riddled with scandals yet they claim their hands are clean.
A recent case study by the Harvard Business School examined the charter school reform efforts in New Orleans. The district is now composed of 70 Recovery School District (RSD) schools managed by the state (including 37 RSD charter schools) and 16 schools managed by the local Orleans Parish School Board (OPSB) (including 12 OPSB charter schools). RSD Schools are a result of Act 9 of the Louisiana State Legislature passed in 2003 to manage under-performing schools throughout the state.
Why are they going CHARTER when they too must be aligned to the Common Core Standards? Is it because they have lenient legislation guiding them or maybe it’s as simple as they have fallen for the lies regarding Charter schools because the powers to be certainly do not make public the information on Charter school closures when regular public schools (RPS) are not being closed.
Sadly, they have been accused of manipulating the data and that they are using a different, lower standard of measuring their achievements to make more schools look better. It seems to be making an impact on the quality of education in New Orleans but then there is nothing to compare them to. This reminds me of “suffer the little children.”
Other states have also lowered their standard of measuring their achievements since their “CCS” is not working.
In 2012, the Federal government showed how they support the Charter school system announcing the FY2012 grant competition for the Replication and Expansion of High Quality Charter Schools. I don’t know about your state, but Florida gives really big chunks of grant monies to starting Charter schools – and if they fail – your tax dollars just got flushed down the toilet.
Under the FY2012 appropriations law, Pub. L. No. 112-74, Division F, Title III, the Secretary is authorized to reserve up to $55 million for the replication and expansion of successful charter models.
A quick perusal of the Notice raises at least two questions: (1) If pre-existing successful models are to be replicated, why has the Department included six competitive preference priorities that may necessitate applicants changing their models to be in the running for a grant? (2) Given the grants are to replicate successful models, why give novice applicants extra points? Why not put everyone on equal footing in the competition?
In 2011, Congress voted overwhelmingly (365-54) to approve H.R. 2218, the Empowering Parents Through Quality Charter Schools Act. The bill is the first of a handful of Ed and Workforce Committee measures that reauthorize parts of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). Among other things, the legislation makes a number of improvements to the federal charter program to facilitate the replication of greater numbers of high quality charter schools. The legislation revamps the current charter schools’ discretionary grant program, among other things, to give priority to states that do not cap the numbers of charter schools.
Always remember the purpose of the support by politicians who want nationalized education is the fact Charter schools have “UNELECTED SCHOOL BOARDS and “LENIENT LEGISLATION” which is ‘TAXATION WITHOUT REPRESENTATION.” To better understand what is truly happening, each parent should read their state’s statutes regarding all parts of Charter school implementation, financial support, oversight and certification of the schools and teachers.
Again I remind you, if you are thinking of moving your child from a RPS to a public Charter school, they are both using Common Core curriculums and following the Common Core State Standards where you live.
Ask yourself, “why the lenient legislation for Charter schools”?
The for-profit Charter School management companies are providing everything from back office operations including payroll, contracting with vendors for food services, textbook, etc., to hiring principals and teachers and curriculum control at an enormous cost. So what has been sold to parents and children as local public education innovation are actually national charter-chains, the “Waltmartization” of public education. The Charter schools pay huge management fees to these for-profit businesses.
Over three-quarters of all charter school students are enrolled in a “charter chain school” in the United States. The top four charter operators in Florida for 2013-2014 were:
Academica (100) – This management company is owned by Fernando Zulueta. To put the frosting on the “cupcake”, Erik Fresen, FL. legislator is also the brother-in-law of Zulueta. He also serves on the board of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools along with Jeb Bush, Jr. Fresen not only has financial connections to the charter operator through his architectural firm, but also chairs the FL House Education Appropriations Subcommittee. Previously, Fresen worked as a lobbyist for Academica in the state. Fresen isn’t the only Florida legislator with ties to the company.
State Senator Anitere Flores is the CEO of Doral College, a private college affiliated with a charter school run by Academica. Before running again in 2012, she had stated if she was offered this position she would not run – she did anyway.
The company’s owners carry additional favor through campaign donations. In a 2011 investigation, the Miami Herald noted: State election records show Academica’s owners, Fernando and Ignacio Zulueta, have steered $150,000 in campaign donations to Tallahassee lawmakers and political committees through real-estate companies they have controlled since 2007. The records also show the Zulueta family has donated an additional $75,000 in the past five years, and Academica executives and school contractors donated another $54,000. During that time, the Legislature relaxed rules and passed lenient legislation, some of which was presented and pushed by Fresen. Fresen has also had ethics charges filed against him for his actions in the legislature, but they have always been dismissed.
How can a legislator support and vote on Charter school legislation, make financial gains from a Charter school and sit on the pro-Charter Foundation (FEE) of Jeb Bush’s and be impartial and have the children’s futures at the fore front of their decision making?
Charter Schools USA (CSUSA) – They had the honor last year of having their CEO Jonathan Hage named Florida’s “Man of the Year”. I guess Florida had no one else who could fill those shoes. Before forming this for-profit charter school management company, Hage was the research director for Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Florida’s Future and also served on Governor Rick Scott’s education transition team. Tina Bennett, wife of former Florida Education Commissioner Tony Bennett, also works for the company.
Emails obtained through a public records request revealed that Charter Schools USA is one of the many sponsors of the Chiefs for Change, a project of Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Excellence in Education (FEE) and Hage is also considered one of Bush’s “Reformers.”
For a test, I looked up one of their Charter Schools in Orange Cnty, FL which is a K-8 school. Checking their 2014 budget and taking what they state would be spent for Professional and Vendor services averaged out to give $1,283.93 less per student. They receive $6077.00 for each of the 924 students. They budgeted to spend $42,400 for advertising; $353,512.00 for CSUSA Management fees; $15K for Accounting Services; $161,445.00 Custodial Services; $255,232.00 Contracted Food Service to name a few. This school received an F last year and is still open. Why is that? I could find no where on their website the name of the Principal or how many teachers they have.
Just what do you get for the $353,512 management fees?
Charter School Associates – They currently have 17 schools in Florida and it is owned and operated by Mike and Estelle Strader. As Executive Director of the Center for Education Entrepreneurs, Mike organized Florida’s first state-wide workshop to assist first year operators (Survival Training for Charter Operators) and developed the first “How-To” guide for Florida charter developers (The Florida Charter School Planning Guide).He has presented at national and state conferences including the National Association of Educators in Private Practice, The National Charter School Conference and the Florida Charter School Conference.
They boast the use of a Math curriculum called Mathletics and it is Common Core aligned.
Imagine Schools – A for-profit Charter School Management Co., Imagine also owns a for-profit real estate development company (Schoolhouse Finance) and a non-profit management company (Imagine Schools Non-Profit). In some places, Imagine run schools dedicate nearly half their operating expenses to rent. The high rent rates not only divert resources from the classroom, the costs pushing some Imagine schools into debt, and sometimes that debt is owed to Imagine’s for-profit arm. (Further criticism)
Jason Bryant, their CEO and President prior to joining Imagine in 2005, worked at AES Corporation. His tenure at AES included operations oversight of multiple power plants in California, leading development efforts in Kazakhstan, and overseeing operations in Brazil and Spain as commercial and financial director. Sounds like a great background for overseeing the education of children. Not!
These are not the small, locally run experimental schools envisioned by the original legislation as told to voters.
The threat of vouchers, wavering support for public education, and bipartisan support for charters has led some unions to start charters themselves. Several AFT chapters, such as those in Houston and Dallas, have themselves started charters. The National Education Association has allocated $1.5 million to help members start charter schools. Proponents claim that charters offer teachers a measure of empowerment, employee ownership, and governance that might be enhanced by union assistance.
The White House on both sides of the political realm has had their fingers in this also. You must ask yourself why are they making our schools i.e., our children’s education, part of the political and business world?
Charter school implementation was one of the main objectives of former President George H. W. Bush. Since that time it seems to have been a “family” affair.
Former President Bill Clinton saw charter schools, with their emphasis on autonomy and accountability, as a workable political compromise and an alternative to vouchers
Others, such as former President George W. Bush, saw charter schools as a way to improve schools without antagonizing the teachers’ union. Bush made charter schools a major part of his No Child Left Behind Act. Despite endorsements, a recent report by the AFT has shown charter schools not faring as well as public schools on state administered standardized testing.
With Jeb Bush deeply in bed with Bill Gates and on a full-time move for Charter schools and Vouchers/Tax Credits for Private and Parochial schools one must wonder what their alternative motives are? Get rich? Power? Control? It certainly is not because they care about our children and their receiving a good education.
Jeb Bush’s web of deceit and deception involves not just the money men, but legislators, state superintendents/commissioners of education, corporate giants and Democrats such as Obama, Arne Duncan, David Coleman and the President of the CFR Haas.
Isn’t it strange how close those on both sides of the fence relate to each other and the same agenda’s? Bill Clinton who looks on G.H.W. Bush as a father figure!
Quick note: Jeb Bush has removed his tab on his web site that formerly named all the Reformers who were both R’s and D’s sitting on his Foundation – backers of the Bush education agenda and most involved in some way with education. Hum! Maybe he thinks we don’t remember who they were.
2012 Foundation for Excellence in Education Donations
2013 Foundation for Excellence in Education Donations
More than one opponent to Charter schools have examined the competing claims of success and suggest that most students in charter schools perform the same or worse than their traditional public school counterparts on standardized tests.
“Public Accountability for Charter Schools: Common Sense Regulation and Oversight for the Future” May 2014