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.
On 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. “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.”
Don’t mis-understand 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 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 of 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 public schools 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.
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 and oversight.
Again I remind you, if you are thinking of moving your child from a regular public school 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 frequently provide everything from back office operations including payroll, contracting with vendors for food services, textbook, etc., to hiring principals and teachers and curriculum control. 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 management fees to these for-profit businesses.
Academica (100) – This management company is owned by Florida legislator Erik Fresen’s brother-in-law CEO Fernando Zulueta. He also serves on the board of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. 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. To put the frosting on the “cupcake”, Fresen is also the brother-in-law of Zulueta.
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 has 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 control since 2007. The records also show the Zulueta family has donated a further $75,000 in the past five years, and Academica executives and school contractors donated a further $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 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. I guess it was payback time!
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”.
Danger Will Robinson:
· In 2011, the Orange County, Florida School Board rejected a charter proposed by CSUSA and cited unrealistic budgeting and too much control by the management organization.
· A Georgia school board expressed concerns about special education transportation problems not being addressed.
· A Shreveport, LA parent claims a school run by CSUSA refused to enroll her son due to his special education needs.
· CSUSA was sued by Mark Levenson, a former Senior Vice-President of Human Resources, for their retaliation against him after Levenson raised issues of widespread Fair Labor Standard Act violations. After reporting the violations to senior management Levenson was eventually terminated from his position.
· The company relies on tax-exempt bonds to raise the capital necessary to build new schools. CSUSA walked away from a school constructed with $21 million in tax-exempt municipal bonds, issued by a the City of Palm Bay. The City of Palm Bay issued the $21 million bonds, and loaned the proceeds to Patriot Charter School LLC, a subsidiary of CSUSA. In January 2009, the CSUSA managed school ceased payments on the bonds after failing to attract enough students to be able to repay the debt. A default notice was eventually issued in May 2012. Charter Schools USA no longer serves as the management organization for the Patriot Charter schools.
· 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 listed on their web site the name of the Principal or how many teachers they have. 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)
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.
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 motive is. 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. 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 http://annenberginstitute.org/sites/default/files/NYC_CharterBrief2014.pdf