Charter Schools & "Choice": A Closer Look
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Ed School Dean: Urban School Reform is Really About Land Development (Not Kids) // Washington Post

Ed School Dean: Urban School Reform is Really About Land Development (Not Kids) // Washington Post | Charter Schools & "Choice": A Closer Look |

"Here is a provocative piece from Leslie T. Fenwick, dean of the Howard University School of Education and a professor of education policy, about what is really behind urban school reform. It’s not about fixing schools, she argues, but, rather, about urban land development. Fenwick has devoted her career to improving educational opportunity and outcomes for African American and other under-served students."...

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Charter Schools & "Choice": A Closer Look
This collection has been created to raise awareness about concerns related to the privatization of public education. The page also serves as a research tool to organize online content. The grey funnel shaped icon at the top (in the 'Desktop View' mode) allows for searching by keyword (i.e. entering K12 Inc, KIPP, TFA, Walton, Rocketship, ALEC, Koch, or 'discipline', etc.) will yield specific subsets of articles relevant to each keyword).  For posts related to TFA, see For posts related to Rocketship, see For posts related to KIPP, see, and for posts related to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), see  Readers are encouraged to explore additional links for further information beyond the text provided on the page. [Note: Views presented on this page are re-shared from external websites.  The content does not necessarily represent the views nor official position of the curator nor employer of the curator.] For critical perspectives on the next wave of privatization poised to take over public services, see the page on Social Impact Bonds and 'Pay For Success' programs: For additional education updates, see [Links to external site]
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National NAACP Board Approves Resolution Calling for Moratorium on Charter School Expansion [Full Resolution Included]// EduResearcher

National NAACP Board Approves Resolution Calling for Moratorium on Charter School Expansion [Full Resolution Included]// EduResearcher | Charter Schools & "Choice": A Closer Look |

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COVID-19 “Microschools” Are Betsy DeVos’s Latest Privatization Scheme // Truthout

COVID-19 “Microschools” Are Betsy DeVos’s Latest Privatization Scheme // Truthout | Charter Schools & "Choice": A Closer Look |

By Candice Bernd
"Working parents grappling with the difficult choices before them this school semester — keeping their children home to learn remotely, or risking COVID-19 transmission by sending them to class — are increasingly turning to a new trend being hailed as a “solution” to the pandemic: privatized “microschools.”


Microschools consist of small groups, or “pods,” of mixed-level students located in homes or local facilities like churches or community centers, who are guided through personalized pedagogies by parents or educators as an alternative to public education. The model blends a private school and homeschool approach, retaining flexibility of homeschooling while relying on paid teachers to facilitate a classroom experience.

Right-wing and libertarian proponents of privatization, including Charles Koch, the Walton Family Foundation, the Heritage Foundation, the Reason Foundation and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, are exploiting the pandemic to push the model.


DeVos tweeted her support several times last week for the School Choice Now Act that would provide $5 billion in tax credits for families opting for homeschooling or private school. At the same time, DeVos and the Trump administration have threatened to withhold federal funds from any school that does not open its classrooms fully in the fall.


Microschools were already gaining interest over the last several years with companies like Prenda piloting the model in Arizona in 2018. Since its launch, Prenda has opened more than 200 “campuses” in the state, according to its CEO, Kelly Smith. The pandemic, however, has strengthened the appeal: Google searches for “microschool” have spiked since major districts began announcing plans to remain online for the fall.


Now, Silicon Valley is jumping on the bandwagon, with several new start-ups hoping to take advantage of what they see as a big market amid the COVID-19 crisis. New online platforms in Seattle and San Francisco are connecting families and educators looking to pool resources and form microschools.


But educators and union activists warn privatized microschools could exacerbate inequality as affluent parents leave public schools for the social and economic benefits of cocooning their children into pods. Predominantly Black and Brown families are likely to be left behind, widening an already dire racial gap in public education.


These educators are fighting back against the impossible choice driving many parents toward private microschools. The Demand Safe Schools Coalition, made up of progressive teachers unions and organizations, is mobilizing today for increased government resources to ensure safe, equitable and science-based school reopenings for working families.


The Chicago Teachers Union, the United Teachers Los Angeles and National Educators United are among the coalition groups demanding more nurses and counselors, personal protective equipment, cleaning supplies and virus testing services. The coalition is also targeting DeVos’s privatization agenda, demanding a moratorium on new charter and voucher programs.

Meanwhile, teachers across the U.S. are set to revitalize the Red for Ed movement in a strike wave similar to 2018. Today’s “Day of Resistance” comes as the American Federation of Teachers adopted a resolution last week authorizing last-resort “safety strikes” if school reopening plans fail to meet demands to ensure teachers’ and students’ health and safety amid the pandemic.


In Arizona, teachers are mobilizing today in the state’s capitol as part of a motor march “funeral procession” of educators delivering their own signed obituaries to Gov. Doug Ducey. Hundreds of teachers have held similar motor marches in cars painted with slogans like “Red for Ed, Not Dead for Ed,” over the last several weeks.

Governor Ducey announced last week that schools would wait for a green light from public health officials before reopening. His latest order requires schools to open in-person in some capacity starting August 17.

When it comes to privatizers’ proposed solution to the crisis though, Arizona educators say microschools are just another way to siphon public dollars into a charter model.

Mesa Rejects Microschool Pilot

Organizers with Save Our Schools Arizona and the Mesa Education Association successfully beat back a proposed microschool pilot for 100 K-8 students in Arizona’s Mesa Unified School District by flooding school board members with 76 public comments in opposition to the proposal ahead of a special board meeting on July 23.


The district proposed an emergency procurement of $440,000 to partner with Prenda on the program, which would have placed students with unlicensed “guides” teaching company curricula with a Mesa public school teacher overseeing as the “teacher of record.”


During the July 23 public meeting, Prenda CEO Smith told Mesa Public Schools board members that the company’s microschools are about 80 percent white, 8 percent Black and 8 percent Latinx, emphasizing that those figures include many poor rural students. He insisted that the pilot would be representative of demographics of the predominantly Latinx school district, but board members questioned the extent to which Prenda guides determine which students are selected.


“Speaking as a person of color, this just reeks of just separating — ok, so we’ll have a special meeting for children of color and families of color … in this model. Absolutely not. I don’t like anything that’s been said,” said Mesa Governing Board Member Kiana Maria Sears during the meeting. She described the plan as chasing down students who were leaving the district for charters. “This is unconscionable, where we are right now.”


Later Smith cited his participation in a program led by 4.0 Schools, which trains “education entrepreneurs” and has helped launch dozens of start-ups and private schools in New Orleans. The lessons he learned in the program, he said, helped him design Prenda. Board Member Sears was again shocked, saying, “That’s an explosive point for someone who’s originally from New Orleans, who saw … the decline and the privatization of all of Orleans Parish,” where more than 93 percent of students now attend charter schools.


Smith declined to discuss how many other districts in the state are weighing potential partnerships or pilot programs with Prenda, telling Truthout that, “We like [that kind of partnership] a lot. We’re in talks with various people in multiple states about doing more of that as one of our goals to make this model accessible.” Partnerships with school districts, he says, are “the best way” for the company to ensure equity.


According to its website, Prenda is backed by 4.0 Schools, the Walton Family Foundation and the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, a right-wing think tank funded by Charles Koch, who serves on the organization’s board of directors. Koch also funds 4.0 Schools. In 2018, the Walton Family Foundation gave $325,000 to Prenda, according to the Foundation’s publicly listed grantees.


Moreover, Prenda microschools are partly funded through the state’s voucher-style Empowerment Scholarship Account (ESA) program. The company also partners with several charter schools, through which state funding flows to its campuses. In June 2020, Prenda raised $6,149,990 in new equity, according to a news site that tracks venture capital.


Other privatization groups backed by the Kochs and the Waltons, such as Yes. Every Kid. and the American Federation for Children, are already promoting similar voucher programs for microschools as an innovative solution for families in crisis.


“My goal is not to engage in a political struggle,” Smith said when asked about company’s backers. “My goal is to empower kids as learners, and we’re excited to work together with anyone who wants to work with us.” His company’s goal, he says, “is not to replace, it’s not to destroy; it’s to augment and add and innovate together.”


Christina Bustos, an executive board member with the Mesa Education Association, doesn’t see it that way. She told Truthout that Prenda’s failed partnership with Mesa Public Schools was in part due to the company’s desire to extract funds from the district after the May 15 extended deadline for ESA applications. She also argued that new legislation is needed to regulate microschools.


Prenda’s microschools use tax dollars to place children as young as 5 in a private home or facility with an unlicensed and untrained independent contractor. To make matters worse, there is no law in the state regulating this kind of corporate operation. Smith, similarly, has no background in education.


Bustos is not just concerned about safety; she’s also worried about the cultural competency of Prenda’s untrained guides. “They have these Black and Brown kids coming into these white people’s homes, and we have no control over what these white people are saying to our children, or how they’re teaching them to think critically or question or not question authority,” Bustos says. “I’m far more confident that there’s checks and balances in public schools.”


That’s if Mesa’s Black and Brown kids are included at all. Teachers and Mesa school board members questioned the model’s ability to include low-income families who live in apartments or those who can’t access broadband internet. The problem is amplified by the fact that communities of color are the ones that have been hardest hit by COVID-19. “It’s white flight, but for the schools,” Bustos says.


Research on charters has long confirmed that self-selection ultimately becomes self-segregation, and widens existing gaps in achievement and school funding. Bustos says it’s all part and parcel of DeVos’s plan to dismantle public education by depriving schools of federal support amid a national crisis.


The GOP’s new coronavirus relief package includes $105 billion for education, but two-thirds of the funding is tied to schools reopening for in-person instruction. DeVos outlined the privatization plan on “Fox News Sunday” saying, “American investment in education is a promise to students and their families. If schools aren’t going to reopen and not fulfill that promise, they shouldn’t get the funds. Then give it to the families to decide to go to a school that is going to meet that promise.”


Just as privatization proponents exploited Hurricane Katrina to decimate the public school system in New Orleans, DeVos is now exploiting the pandemic to redirect federal relief funds intended for public schools into vouchers for private schools. If the current trend continues, more and more of those federal relief dollars are likely to be funneled into corporate microschools.


“This community was trying to create some kind of a solution to a problem that they think that they have: that people are going to pull their kids out of the school because they want them homeschooled,” Bustos told Truthout. “In my mind, part of the reason they’re having this problem is because Betsy DeVos is pushing this model.”


Mesa school board members ultimately agreed that it would be better to replicate a public version of the microschool model, using district teachers and resources instead of outsourcing to a private company. Until a vaccine for COVID-19 is fully developed and distributed, public school districts are finding real merits in the model. Bustos supports the effort, which is already underway.


“We as teachers have been begging for school districts to allow us more freedom to teach children in ways that are more meaningful, bring more joy, inspiration and natural curiosity to our schools,” Bustos submitted to the Mesa school board on July 23. “If you divided up the money [originally allocated for Prenda] with a small cohort of teachers, we would be overjoyed to teach a small group of students in a very similar way.”

Beyond Arizona, Microschools Multiply

Despite the company’s defeat in Mesa, Smith’s microschool model is spreading rapidly across the state and across the U.S. Prenda is building fast-growing Facebook communities for both guides and parents to share tips and resources.


But Arizona isn’t the only state in which parents and educators are scrambling over Facebook to organize themselves into microschools and more informal pods for child care and education. Throughout the nation, parents are increasingly pooling their time and sharing the costs of nannies and tutors. Others are volunteering their living rooms as contemporary one-room schoolhouses.


Tech start-ups are taking advantage, using the forums to advertise and hone their services. School districts are also turning to such online platforms, hoping to formalize the creation of microschools in their own communities.


A new public-private partnership may already be in the works in Seattle, where Bloomberg reported that the CEO of one such startup, Weekdays, said she has been in contact with administrators at Seattle Public Schools. Last week, San Francisco officials announced plans to open 40 “learning hubs” of low-income students to assist their remote learning needs.

Susan Solomon, president of United Educators of San Francisco, tells Truthout the district hasn’t yet involved the union in its communications regarding the new plan for hubs, but the union is also struggling with the creation of pandemic pods among wealthier families in the Bay Area.


“All of this is taking advantage of a pandemic to do what certain people like Betsy DeVos have wanted to do all along, and that is starve public education to death,” Solomon says. “If all the money and effort that’s going into monetizing microschools and starting private pods would be going toward … helping public schools have enough resources to reopen safely, we could solve this crisis.”


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Charter schools and their management companies pulled at least $925 million in federal coronavirus funding // Washington Post

By Valerie Strauss

"The Paycheck Protection Program, or PPP, is a $660 billion business loan program established as part of the $2 trillion coronavirus economic stimulus legislation that Congress passed in the spring. PPP was aimed at helping certain small businesses, nonprofit organizations, sole proprietors and others stay in business during the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic.


The U.S. Small Business Administration administered the program, and recently the SBA and the Treasury Department released some data on what organizations won loans from the program and how much they received. (Some loans can be forgiven if the PPP money is spent on keeping employees on the payroll.)

The release of funding details sparked some controversy about whether some of the organizations that received funds should have gotten them, including public charter schools — which are publicly funded but privately operated — and some elite private schools. (A Washington Post database shows the data.)


Charter schools received emergency stimulus money from Congress from the same fund that traditional public schools did — but some charter schools decided to apply for PPP loans as well, saying that they are underfunded through regular funding formulas and had a right to seek more aid. Other charter schools chose not to apply for loans, saying it would be double-dipping in federal aid funds.

Among those charters that did were some that knew they didn’t actually need the money to maintain financial stability. For example, 2KUTV in Salt Lake City did an investigation into Utah charter schools taking PPP funding and found that they took a total of $7.9 million. It reported on a discussion at the June 25 meeting of the governing board of the Utah Military Academy, a charter with two campuses, in which an unidentified board member explained how the $1.15 million in PPP funding that the school was expecting would be spent.

The conversation, heard on audio tapes, went like this, according to the CBS affiliate:

“So we take this money to pay the salaries, and the money we were going to pay salaries is going to go into our accounts to help flush up our funds,” said the board member.

“Can I ask a question?” a female voice said. “My understanding was that this money is for businesses who, because of the drop in business, were having trouble keeping all their employees. How do we qualify for that? Because our funding wasn’t cut at all.”

She also notes that no employees have been laid off by the school because of the covid-19 pandemic. Two more voices interject, “We’re a business,” and, “We’re a nonprofit.” A third voice is heard saying, “It’s some of that good free government money!”

With that, here is the post about just how much charter schools did get in PPP money, written by Carol Burris, executive director of the Network for Public Education, an alliance of organizations that advocates for the improvement of public education. Burris, a former award-winning principal in New York, has been chronicling the charter school movement and the standardized-test-based accountability movement on this blog for years.

By Carol Burris

On May 13, Washington Post reporter Perry Stein reported that some Washington, D.C., charter schools had been receiving funds from the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), although all of their taxpayer revenue continued to flow. By June 15, the New York Times’s Erica L. Green also wrote a story about how charter schools, some of which had billionaire backers, had been applying for and getting PPP money. Before long, local news agencies picked up on the story, questioning why schools that received public funding were tapping into the SBA program.

Unknown at the time was the national scope of the use of PPP funds by charters. Therefore, the Network for Public Education decided to scour the list of PPP recipients disclosed by the SBA and create lists by state of the charter schools and their management organizations that had received funding.


The amount that we have identified is staggering. More than 1,300 charter schools and their nonprofit or for-profits and management companies secured between $925 million and $2.2 billion through the PPP. We provide a range not from uncertainty but because the SBA chose not to report the exact amounts of the forgivable loans.

Even this range is an underestimate. Excluded from our calculations is the sizable number of PPP loans below $150,000 — which the Trump administration has not disclosed. You can find our state-by-state list of charter schools and charter management organizations, along with each school’s PPP range amounts, on our website here.



The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools informed its members via email in March that it had successfully lobbied for charter schools to receive PPP funds and provided instructions on how such funding could be obtained. The blog that contained the contents of that email has been removed, but you can find it in the Internet archives here. Not only did the charter school alliance encourage its members to apply, but the organization received its own PPP forgivable loan in the range of $350,000 to $1 million.


Because the laws regarding charter transparency vary from state to state, prior to the publication of the SBA list we could only obtain information about PPP loans by reading charter school minutes, if they were posted. In some cases, we were able to listen to available recordings of meetings. From that limited information, a disturbing pattern emerged.

Well-funded charters with ample funding were applying for and receiving large PPP awards. A discussion of the governing board of California’s Summit Public Schools was particularly insightful. Not only did the school’s CEO report that the schools were in good fiscal standing, the only major concern of the board, in addition to public relations, was whether they would find themselves under criminal investigation if they took the funds and it was then discovered that Summit did not need the money.


When the SBA finally released the PPP data, a nonprofit research and policy organization group called In the Public Interest, and the nonprofit grass-roots advocacy group Parents United for Public Schools, analyzed charter school recipients in the state of California. Meanwhile, Carol Burris, Marla Kilfoyle and Darcie Cimarusti of the Network for Public Education concentrated on the other 49 states and Washington, D.C. Professor Gary Miron of Western Michigan University provided a national list of for-profit and nonprofit charter management organizations, which we checked against the PPP database as well. Because some organizations did not list themselves as nonprofits but rather as corporations, and some charter schools have nonprofits with names different from the name of the school, it is likely we missed a sizable number of grantees.


What we found

California has the most charter schools in the nation — approximately 1,300. Even so, its charter sector received a disproportionately large amount of PPP funding, which may be as high as half a -billion dollars.


More than 400 charter organizations received loan money totaling between $240.7 million and $565.6 million. In the Public Interest has created a searchable database of the California charters that received PPP loans, available here. Two-thirds of these charters are affiliated with “CMO’s,” or “charter management organizations,” such as Learn4Life and Magnolia Public Schools, large chains with campuses statewide. Inspire Schools, whose founder and former CEO has recently drawn criticism for receiving more than $1 million in retroactively authorized payroll, took as much as $29.7 million in PPP funding. This home-schooling charter network was expelled last fall from the California Charter Schools Association, an organization that typically unabashedly defends its members.


In Los Angeles County — where the Los Angeles Unified School District has more charter schools than any other school system in the country — according to In the Public Interest, charters received as much as $201 million. San Diego County charters received as much as $91 million.

The New York State charter sector received between $126 million and $293.2 million — even as local businesses were going belly up because of a lack of revenue during the high point of the coronavirus pandemic in that state.


While New York public school districts may have felt the pain of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s (D) decision to not distribute federal Cares Act funding to schools and use it to fill the state’s budget hole instead, 146 of the 327 charter schools had that blow cushioned by PPP. For example, six of the eight New Vision Charter High Schools received PPP funding, which totaled at the high end of the range to $10 million. In addition, the New Visions charter management organization that manages the schools received its own PPP funding in an amount between $2 million and $5 million.


Beside California and New York, two other states’ charter sectors received high-end range PPP funding in excess of $100 million: Florida, at $152.8 million, and Louisiana, at $107.4 million. The charter sectors in three other states received up to $80 million or more: Arizona, $99.4 million; Pennsylvania, $85 million; and Texas, $81.1 million. Again, readers can find state totals along with school names and funding ranges here.

National charter chains cash in


Learn4Life is a charter school chain claiming 80 campuses in California enrolling nearly 40,000 students. It is expanding to North Carolina, South Carolina and Texas. Its schools are often storefronts in malls where over-aged or at-risk students pick up work to independently complete. On-site teachers provide support if needed.

According to In the Public Interest, Learn4Life schools received as much as $51.7 million in PPP funds — more than the total amount received by the entire charter sectors in the majority of states. Last June, a judge ordered the chain to close three of its San Diego County locations after school districts said they were operating illegally within their boundaries. Later that year, a Voice of San Diego investigation revealed that John Helgeson, a Learn4Life executive vice president, was collecting two paychecks paid with public money. In a scheme described as “a classic conflict of interest,” Helgeson owned a for-profit company that loaned money and leased corporate office space to Learn4Life while he worked for the chain.



At a glance, Learn4Life seems too big to apply for a PPP loan. But like Shake Shack and other corporations with multiple locations, Learn4Life’s leaders took advantage of the chain’s structure to apply school by school, while also applying for their central management organization.


Learn4Life was hardly alone. Twenty-one organizations related to the KIPP charter chain have in total received an amount at the high end of the range, $68.7 million, more than the high end of the charter sector in 42 states.

The for-profit charter management organization Academica runs charter schools in seven states. Its home office is located in Florida, where the company manages scores of charter schools down the east coast of the state from Fort Pierce to Homestead. Academica also has a presence in Arizona, California, Nevada, South Carolina, Texas and Utah. Academica Management LLC, Academica West and Academica Virtual Education, which the organization uses to support online schooling, received PPP funding, as did 15 of the schools it manages and supports. High-range amounts for Academica and its schools produce a total of $35.7 million.

Small charter management organizations jumped in as well. Philips Education Partners, located in Newark, New Jersey, got between $150,000 and $350,000. It runs two charter schools. One of those two schools, Philips Academy of Patterson, also received PPP in the same amount — $150,00 to $350,000 — as the charter management organization. Miguel Brito, the CEO of Philips Education Partners, received total compensation in 2017 of $410,205. Meanwhile, the average salary for New Jersey school superintendents in 2017-2018 was $155,631, according to an NJ Advance Media analysis of state data.

Authentic need or money grab?

The board of Palisades Charter High School near Los Angeles voted in June to accept $4.6 million in PPP funding despite admitting that they didn’t have an immediate need for the money. Yet, earlier this month, they voted to lay off five staff members, including a tutoring center coordinator, and reduce the hours of 18 other employees.

Palisades was not alone. In all of the minutes we read, and recordings we listened to, charter school boards reported ample fund balances and justified taking the money because future funding was uncertain. During a meeting of the Utah Military Academy, one board member described taking PPP funds as follows: “So we take this money to pay the salaries, and the money we were going to pay salaries is going to go into our accounts to help flush up our funds.”

However, preparing for possible uncertainties or “flushing up funds” was not the purpose of the program. We are aware of no other sector funded nearly exclusively by the taxpayers that received PPP.

This raises questions about whether charter schools should have been allowed to access PPP money, and whether harm was caused by allowing them to do so.

Charter schools have received the same continuity of funding as district-run neighborhood public schools during the pandemic. Eligible charter schools — those schools with large numbers of low-income students — have also received federal Cares Act funding, as well as other state-based coronavirus relief. While receiving this funding that was intended to support public schools, charter schools are now also receiving funding that was intended for small businesses and nonprofits whose revenue streams were drastically impacted by the pandemic.

Granted, charter schools are not alone among nonprofits in taking funding just because they can. We found 17 nonprofit organizations that support charter schools (or advocated for charters receiving PPP funding) receiving that funding themselves — in total receiving between $6.3 million and $14.8 million. For example, the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a school reform think tank, is also an authorizer of charter schools in Ohio. It received between $350,000 and $1 million in PPP funding despite its initial endowment of $50 million. In 2018, the organization ended the year with a fund balance of $8 million. Readers can find a list of these charter support organizations and the amounts they received here.

And now to the question of harm. By taking PPP when not needed, systemic inequities increased. The PPP has been widely criticized as being difficult to access for many small businesses, particularly those owned by people of color.

survey conducted in May of 500 black and Latinx small-business owners found that just 12 percent of those who had applied had received the funds they asked for, with nearly 50 percent anticipating having to permanently close in the next six months. A recent study by the National Community Reinvestment Coalition found “different levels of encouragement to apply for loans, different products offered, and different information provided by bank representatives.”

Certainly, there are other nonprofit and for-profit organizations beyond the charter school world that took coronavirus money just because they could. Although eligible via our nonprofit status, the Network for Public Education did not apply for PPP funds. We encourage other nonprofit organizations that were able to meet payroll without the funding to return those funds, making them available to the small businesses that never received them or that may need a second infusion of cash."


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Mission to Destroy Public Education Rebrands Under COVID-19: Understanding the Christian Homeschooling Movement // Political Research 

Mission to Destroy Public Education Rebrands Under COVID-19: Understanding the Christian Homeschooling Movement // Political Research  | Charter Schools & "Choice": A Closer Look |

By Chrissy Stroop

"As we speculate about the ways that our world will be different when we emerge from the global COVID-19 pandemic, it’s important to keep an eye on the way that right-wing authoritarians at home and abroad are exploiting crisis conditions to grab or consolidate power.


The dictatorial powers granted to Prime Minister Viktor Orbán by the Hungarian Parliament in late March are an obvious example. But the subtler ways in which right-wing authoritarians are exploiting pandemic conditions for their own ideological ends may be even more insidious.


Anti-government ideologues in the United States have long awaited the kind of catastrophic system failures that they believe will position them well to gain power and influence in a destabilized society. Some on the Christian Right see our current crisis as an opportune moment to strike a death-blow against public education, one longstanding target. While public schools work heroically to adapt to the challenges of providing remote instruction, far right-wing organizations like the Home School Legal Defense Association are recruiting."...


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The next wave of the ‘Wall Streetification’ of education and public services in America [Perspective] // Washington Post 

The next wave of the ‘Wall Streetification’ of education and public services in America [Perspective] // Washington Post  | Charter Schools & "Choice": A Closer Look |

Valerie Strauss
"There is an emerging financial phenomenon in the education and social service world that could change the way social services are delivered in the United States — and who gets them. The term that describes a number of different programs in this arena are social impact bonds, and if you have managed not hear about them in recent years as they have been developed, now’s a good time to learn. What are these bonds?

They basically are a way of financing social services by bringing together social service providers with private funders and nonprofit organizations that want to expand social services committed to expanding social services to Americans.


Those who support these bond programs see them as a great way to get private entities to invest in schools and districts that are strapped for resources. Critics say they essentially are a way for the private sector to make money off investments in public education and are more likely to enrich the private entities than help children. They also see this financing technique as the next step in the privatization of education and social services, which they find troubling.


The following piece, written by scholars Martin Carnoy and Roxana Marachi, explain this new world in depth.

Carnoy is a professor of education and economics at Stanford University, where he chairs the International and Comparative Education program in the School of Education. His research explores educational policy and practice in the United States as part of the Consortium for Policy Research in Education.


Roxana Marachi is an associate professor of education at San Jose State University, where she teaches courses in the Department of Teacher Education and the Doctoral Program in Educational Leadership. Her current research interests are focused on strengthening systemic strategies for the prevention of data harms and bridging research-to-practice gaps in the integration of emerging technologies in education. 

By Martin Carnoy and Roxana Marachi

Does Goldman Sachs’ investing in desperately needed preschools in your state sound too good to be true?


No surprise, there’s more to this funding than meets the eye. And at worst, it may mean that much of today’s philanthropic giving for public services may end up as profit-making investments and the privatization of the public sector.


In the past decade, new funding structures have emerged within the social services and education arenas, with accompanying legislation poised to transform how services are delivered and who delivers them. The umbrella term for these new financial arrangements is the Social Impact Bond (SIB), although Pay For Success (PFS) and Results-Based Financing (RBF) are also often used interchangeably to refer to the same basic structures.


SIBs have been widely promoted as innovative funding approaches that allow private investors to fund public projects in health care, homelessness, early education, workforce development, and prison reform. These investors can then be repaid with interest, providing a profit to funders if the project meets predetermined success criteria with accompanying cost savings to the public. A key feature of SIB projects involves third-party evaluators whose job it is to measure whether certain “success” metrics are met by the end of the project period.


On the surface, social impact bonds may appear great for all involved.  Local governments using the approach may be viewed by the public as more prudent in their use of tax revenue, since they can scale up programs to address recidivism reduction, homelessness, education, and other public services without immediate risk to taxpayer money. Elected officials tout such investments as innovations in public service delivery.


Private financial institutions, such as Goldman Sachs, get to make profits off their upfront investments provided that final success metrics are achieved. These same financial institutions also get favorable public relations for helping fund projects intended to support underserved communities.


And SIBs appeal to the nonprofit sector, since they allow higher levels of funding for their social projects than would otherwise be available in current resource-stressed environments.


As attractive and straightforward as the basic rationale for bringing private funding into social programs may seem, there are many troubling aspects of these financing structures.


  • They shift public monies to private investor profits for what are actually low-risk, tried-and-true, cost-saving interventions that the public sector could just as well have financed and directly managed itself. To date, almost no SIB projects have failed to meet performance metrics, largely because their interventions have worked before on similar populations. In addition, the U.S. Department of Education has funded ($3 million in 2016) what are essentially eight pre-studies, or feasibility studies, to establish whether preschool education PFS projects could be made attractive for private investors — in the IES’s words, “to test the viability of using Pay for Success as a way to pay for preschool services.”
  • Social Impact Bonds and Pay For Success structures are expensive to set up and administer, even apart from the premium that they pay private investors. While taxpayer dollars do not immediately fund these projects, taxpayers must ultimately foot the bill in order to pay back the original investments along with the added profits, evaluation costs, and administrative expenses. As an example, according to estimates from the OECD, contracts for a Massachusetts Juvenile Justice related SIB involved over 1,100 hours of consultant time and required coordination among multiple investors and delivery partners.

  • Private investors are interested in short-term returns, so the kinds of projects that attract SIB funding will necessarily avoid and undermine attention to more complex, deeper structural inequities that fuel continuing disparities at the root of social problems. Reducing youth recidivism by a certain percentage, for instance, may save local government money but has only a marginal effect on the underlying causes of youth crime.

  • A final concern related to these privatized projects is that they involve extensive data gathering from youth/participants in evaluation studies designed to demonstrate so called impacts of the interventions. Shifts in governance of these projects and evaluations to the private sector eliminate opportunities for public oversight and remove participant protections that would have otherwise been required by publicly governed processes. Just two examples: in the Chicago Parent Child Study, student mobility and retention, social-emotional learning, parent engagement, and school attendance were all tracked even though they were not involved in the investors’ payout metrics. And in the Utah Preschool Project, twelve years of longitudinal data are being gathered. What are the plans for how these data are to be used, by whom, and to what end?

One indication of how quickly we can expect SIBs to expand in the United States is the passage of the 2018 Federal Social Impact Partnerships to Pay for Results Act (SIPPRA), within the Social Security Act. That set aside $100 million in funding over 10 years to support outcome payments for Pay for Success projects, feasibility studies, and project evaluations.


SIPPRA stipulates that the Treasury Department will accept applications for a variety of different kinds of projects, from increasing reducing recidivism rates, improving rates of high school graduation, and reducing teen pregnancies, to reducing homelessness and reducing the incidence of preventable diseases — in sum, many of America’s most serious social and economic challenges. In addition to SIPPRA funding, Pay for Success initiatives are also embedded directly into federal education legislation through the 2015 Every Student Succeeds Act.


In our full policy brief published by the National Education Policy Center at the University of Colorado at Boulder, we conclude that policymakers and others should be skeptical of the hype that SIBs are a win-win for all concerned and without downsides. Such claims are often made by private investors and by non-governmental organizations seeking more funding to engage in social interventions. We urge caution in bringing the private sector further into the areas of social services and education and reveal several layers of potential exploitation that appear to be tethered to such financial structures.

We agree with David Macdonald, senior economist with the Canadian Center for Policy Alternatives, who refers to SIBs as “anti-philanthropy."


He suggests that at the core, they are profit-driven, government-funded business deals that eventually will lead to the Wall Streetification of public services. Public agencies are encouraged to take a “thanks, but no thanks” approach to middleman markups that would allow intermediaries and investors to profit off projects funded by the public. No matter how well-intentioned private investors may appear to be, they are ultimately governed by private interests, which can diverge from the public interest behind these policies."

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Report: PA Charters Game The Special Education System // Peter Greene

Report: PA Charters Game The Special Education System // Peter Greene | Charter Schools & "Choice": A Closer Look |

By Peter Greene

"In a new report, Education Voters of Pennsylvania looks at “how an outdated law wastes public money, encourages gaming the system, and limits school choice.” Fixing the Flaws looks at how Pennsylvania’s two separate funding systems have made students with special needs a tool for charter gaming of the system, even as some of them are shut out of the system entirely.


The two-headed system looks like this. Public schools receive special education funding based on the actual costs of services, while charter schools are funded with a one-size-fits-all system that pays the same amount for all students with special needs, no matter what those special needs might be."...


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Parents worried about the fall plan ‘learning pods’ and micro-schools

Parents worried about the fall plan ‘learning pods’ and micro-schools | Charter Schools & "Choice": A Closer Look |

Worried about distance learning, families set up "learning pods." UC Prof. Janelle Scott discusses them."...


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Another attempted cash grab by the corporate ed crowd in Washington State: House Bill 2788 // Seattle Education Blog

Another attempted cash grab by the corporate ed crowd in Washington State: House Bill 2788 // Seattle Education Blog | Charter Schools & "Choice": A Closer Look |

By Dora Taylor
"Even though charter schools have been a big fail in Seattle, as we said they were in other states ten years ago, the corporate education advocates still want money for what has shown to be simply one big cash grab by taking away money from PUBLIC schools.

There is a bill, HB (House Bill) 2788, if approved,  would allow charter schools to receive levy funding raised by the City of Seattle. This funding has been used previously for PUBLIC schools to supplement state funding.


State House Representative Eric Pettigrew, who has no problem selling his own people down the river, is the lead sponsor of this bill. For examples of his untiring bidding for the moneyed few, see Rainier Beach High Schools responds to the League of Education Voters Attack on its School and CommunityApartheid House Bill 1860: No one wants to split Seattle in two except for Reps. Santos, Pettigrew and oh yeah… Magendanz. Remember him?, and House Rep. Eric Pettigrew, House Bill 1497, mayoral control and the money.   

Testimony will be heard in the House Appropriations Committee today at 3:30 PM.  Catherine Ahl, the Education Chair for the League of Women Voters of Washington, will be giving testimony regarding this proposed legislation. To follow is a copy of what she will be saying in front of the committee.

Here is her testimony

"I am Catherine Ahl, Education Chair for the League of Women Voters of Washington, here to oppose HB 2788.  The League of Women Voters has opposed charter schools because they don’t have boards elected by the voters but instead the corporation running the schools appoints the board. We support full funding by the state for public schools. The state currently isn’t fully funding special education or funding support staff because of the outdated prototypical school model.


Now is not the time to ignore these problems and provide extra funding for charter schools. This bill will take more funds out of the WA Opportunity Pathways account, which is also supposed to fund various scholarships, grants, and the Early Childhood Education and Assistance program – approximately $7,800,000 in 2021-23 and $8,200,000 in 23-25.


Since charter schools were first authorized, five have closed, one is under a stay of revocation of its charter, two are being investigated on violating Special Education laws, and one is being required to file annual reports on its financial viability. Of the five that have closed, four were awarded grants of over $1 million from the federal charter schools’ program according to the Network for Public Education. It makes one wonder how much total state funding went to these closed schools.


Looking at Washington’s charter schools’ track record, now is not the time to provide more money to charter schools that may close in the future."



Here is the history of failed charter schools in Seattle:
First Place Scholars (K-5)  Seattle  –  Opened 2014, Closed 2015

SOAR Academy (K-5)  Tacoma  –  Opened 2015, Closed 2019  –  financial constraints

Green Dot Destiny (6-8)  Tacoma  –  Opened 2016, Closed 2019  –  enrollment & operational challenges

Green Dot Excel (7-9)  Kent  –  Opened 2016, Closed 2019  – enrollment & operational challenges

Ashe Preparatory Academy (K-2, 6)  Kent  – Opened 8/2019, Closed 10/2019 – enrollment, staff exodus

Willow (6-8)  Walla Walla  –  Opened 2018  – under a Stay of Revocation **

Summit Sierra (9-12)  Seattle  –  Opened 2016  – Special Ed. Investigation  **

Summit Atlas (6-12)  W. Seattle  Opened 2017  – Special Ed. Investigation  **

Rainer Valley Leadership Academy (6-12)  SE Seattle – Opened 2017 – must demonstrate financial viability yearly, new contract separating from Green Dot."...


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Charter School Tuition Paid and Charter School Enrollment from 2008 - 2019 // 

Charter School Tuition Paid and Charter School Enrollment from 2008 - 2019 //  | Charter Schools & "Choice": A Closer Look |

From Pennsylvania School Boards Association

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Founder of Shuttered Charter School Arrested on Embezzlement Charges // Houston Chronicle

Founder of Shuttered Charter School Arrested on Embezzlement Charges // Houston Chronicle | Charter Schools & "Choice": A Closer Look |

Houston Chronicle

"Federal agents arrested the founding superintendent of a shuttered Third Ward charter school Wednesday morning on charges that accuse him of embezzling school money for his personal use.

Richard S. Rose, who served as superintendent, CEO and chief financial officer of Zoe Learning Academy, is expected to make his initial appearance in a federal courtoom at 2 p.m., where he will answer to charges of conspiracy, mail fraud, theft of government funds, money laundering and false bankruptcy declarations.

U.S. Attorney Ryan Patrick announced the arrest, adding that a federal grand jury returned an indictment against Rose under seal on Dec. 11. The indictment was unsealed after his arrest.
Federal prosecutors said Rose used the charter school's money for personal expenses including legal fees, a lawsuit settlement and to buy a timeshare.

The charter elementary opened in 2001. In September 2017, the school abruptly closed. At the time, Rose said the school didn't have enough students to generate sufficient revenue to operate."...


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Still Asleep at the Wheel: How the Federal Charter Schools Program Results in a Pileup of Fraud and Waste 

Still Asleep at the Wheel: How the Federal Charter Schools Program Results in a Pileup of Fraud and Waste  | Charter Schools & "Choice": A Closer Look |

"Still Asleep at the Wheel continues our investigation of the U.S. Department of Education’s Charter Schools Program (CSP) that began with our March 2019 report, which you can find here. The Charter Schools Program has spent more than $4.1 billion dollars to fund new charter schools and to expand existing charter schools. In this report, we document over a half-billion dollars that was wasted on defunct charter schools that received grants from 2006-2014 alone. There is no data for granted money from 1995-2005. That is because the Department did not require the states to report to which schools they gave over a million dollars of taxpayer funds. Given that 28% of all of the funds spent during those select years (2006-2014) were wasted, we conclude that over $1 billion has been wasted during the 25 years that the program has been in existence.

According to our analysis, 37% of the charter schools that were funded by CSP during those years either never opened (11%) or opened and then closed (26%). That figure is the result of our confirmation of the status of nearly 5000 charter schools that received funds from CSP.

The interactive map below provides detailed information, state by state, on the waste of federal tax dollars from active CSP grants between 2006-2014. Amounts are derived from the 2015 CSP report and thus reflect actual expenditures and/or committed amounts when the report was published. For more detail, please read our report."... 

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San José / Silicon Valley NAACP Urges Denial of Rocketship Los Sueños Renewal Petition 

San José / Silicon Valley NAACP Urges Denial of Rocketship Los Sueños Renewal Petition  | Charter Schools & "Choice": A Closer Look |

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East San José Charter School Summit Rainier To Close // San José Mercury News

East San José Charter School Summit Rainier To Close // San José Mercury News | Charter Schools & "Choice": A Closer Look |

By Maggie Angst
"After nearly a decade serving San Jose students, administrators of Summit Public Schools have announced that they will close Summit Rainier — one of their two charter schools in the city — due an inability to get private facilities for both schools.

“Unfortunately, the combination of a strong economy and tightened city restrictions has prevented us from securing a private facility for each school in San Jose. After ten years of searching, we must conclude that a private facility is not a pathway forward for both Rainier and Tahoma,” Summit Superintendent Anson Jackson said in a statement.

According to a tentative plan, Summit Rainier — a charter school serving about 315 students in East San Jose — will cease operations at the end of the school year. KIPP Navigate College Prep — another charter school that currently shares a campus with Rainier’s partner school Summit Tahoma in South San Jose — will move to the Summit Rainier campus.

Students from Summit Rainier will be given the option to attend Summit Tahoma, which is located on the campus of Oak Grove High School about ten miles south from Rainier’s current school grounds, or another school of their choosing. Although the school’s faculty can apply for a position at another Summit school, including Tahoma, they have no certainty of securing a job.


The East Side Union High School District, which is mandated to share facilities will all three schools under Proposition 39, said Summit and KIPP came to the district to discuss negotiating a new facility plan late last school year — nearly two years before the agreements between the two Summit schools and the district were set to expire.

The district is currently home to 12 charter schools, including Rainier, and 11 of its own district schools. As more charter schools have been added to the district in recent years, the district has been forced to parse more and more of its campuses.

Summit Tahoma and Summit Rainier opened in 2011 as two separate schools on the National Hispanic University campus. But when the university decided to use the space for other uses, the two schools moved into separate portable sites owned by the East Side Union High School District — the campuses of Oak Grove High School and Mt. Pleasant High School.

When KIPP Navigate College Prep opened two years ago, the district placed the school on the same campus as Summit Tahoma. As a consequence, Tahoma lost classrooms “below a sufficient number to operate its basic programs”, according to the Summit statement.

“While the Rainier campus at Mt. Pleasant and the Tahoma campus at Oak Grove have been functional, neither one of them on their own can provide for the basic operation of a Summit school,” Jackson said. “This permanent home will allow us to serve Summit’s families and the San Jose community well for years to come.”


Kipp Navigate began with a freshman class during the 2018-19 school year, added sophomores this school year and will continue to add a junior and senior class in the subsequent two years. While KIPP Navigate is expected to more than double its enrollment once it adds the additional grade levels, enrollment at Summit Rainier has gradually declined.

KIPP Public Charter Schools operates nearly 250 schools across the nation, including four in San Jose. In a statement, KIPP said it was looking forward to having a “long-term home for the school” and “continuing to provide a safe, nurturing environment for our scholars.”

East Side Union School District Superintendent Chris Funk said that due to the KIPP’s growing enrollment, it “wasn’t feasible” to have both KIPP and Summit Tahoma at the Oak Grove campus.

“I think it’s a win-win for everyone,” Funk said. “It means that KIPP, which was eventually going to have to move anyway, will have room to grow and there will less competition for gym times and athletic fields for Summit because there will only be one school at the Oak Grove campus.”

But Summer Rainier teachers, who recently voted to establish a union, are questioning whether the closure had any relation to their efforts to try and secure a more fair contract.

“My stomach is constantly in knots,” said Isela Mosqueira, a Spanish teacher who has worked at the school for the past three years. “It’s really hard to talk to my students and answer their questions. They want to know what is happening next year and where I’m going to go but I don’t have much to tell them.”

In January, 75% of teachers from the eight Summit Public Schools across northern California submitted paperwork to the state’s Public Employment Relations Board to form a union. But the teachers have been unable to negotiate a contract with Summit because the administration is waiting on the California Public Employment Relations Board to approve the merits of the union petition.

“At our campus, we’re pretty historically outspoken about advocating for services and programs that can improve things for our kids,” Mosqueira said. “And so it’s hard not to see a lot of these actions as retaliation for unionizing.”

Redwood City-based Summit Public Schools operates 11 tuition-free charter schools in northern California and Washington. The charter system revolves around a personalized learning approach, small class sizes and specialized one-on-one mentoring from teachers.

Abraham Rios, a junior at Summit Rainier, said he thought it was a joke when he initially heard the news traveling around his peers last week.

“It’s like a slap in the face,” Rios said. “They always talked about how we were a family, so it makes no sense why they’re now deciding to break that up. It’s really disappointing that I won’t have that (mentor-mentee) connection next year — my senior year.”...


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New report finds high closure rates for charter schools over time // Washington Post

New report finds high closure rates for charter schools over time // Washington Post | Charter Schools & "Choice": A Closer Look |

By Valerie Strauss

[Selected quotes included below]

"A comprehensive examination released Thursday of charter school failure rates between 1999 and 2017 found that more than one-quarter of the schools closed after operating for five years, and about half closed after 15 years, displacing a total of more than 867,000 students.


The report, using information available from the U.S. Education Department, also found that in three of the poorest cities in the country — Detroit, Tucson and Milwaukee — there were more charter closures in areas with higher rates of poverty than in those with lower rates.

The analysis (see in full below) is the latest in a series of reports on charter schools by the Network for Public Education, a nonprofit organization that advocates for traditional public schools and was co-founded by historian and activist Diane Ravitch. Earlier reports focused on waste and fraud in public charter school funding."...




"...The Federal Charter School Program has invested close to $4 billion in charter schools since it began giving grants in 1995. Charters had bipartisan support for years, but a growing number of Democrats have pulled back from the movement, citing the fiscal impact on school districts and repeated scandals in the sector.


The Education Department did not immediately respond to a query about the findings. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has made expanding alternatives to school districts — including charter schools — her top priority.


In the new report, titled “Broken Promises: An Analysis of Charter School Closures from 1999-2017,″ authors Burris and Ryan Pfleger based their analysis on information from the Education Department’s Common Core of Data, which is the primary database on elementary and secondary education in the United States. 


They analyzed groups of schools that opened in the same year and looked at their failure rates at three, five, 10 and 15 years.

The findings include:

* Of 77 groups of schools that opened from 1998 to 2014, 18 percent closed by the three-year mark. A large proportion of failures occurred by the completion of the first year.

* By the five-year mark, the closure rate had jumped to more than 1 in 4 charter schools.

* By the 10th year, 40 percent of charter schools had closed.

* In the available data, five groups of charter schools reached the 15-year mark, and by this point, one in two of those schools were gone. Failure rates ranged from 47 percent to 54 percent.


Earlier reports from the Network for Public Education detailed fraud and waste in charter schools, finding that the U.S. government had wasted up to $1 billion on charter schools that never opened, or opened and then closed because of mismanagement and other reasons.


It also found that oversight of federal charter school funds by the Education Department was lax and that the state with the most charters that received public funding but never opened was Michigan, DeVos’s home state.


Burris, a co-author of the new report, is executive director of the Network for Public Education and a former award-winning New York principal. She has been chronicling the charter movement for years on this blog. Pfleger, the other co-author, is an education policy researcher."...


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The huge problem with education ‘pandemic pods’ suddenly popping up // Washington Post

The huge problem with education ‘pandemic pods’ suddenly popping up // Washington Post | Charter Schools & "Choice": A Closer Look |

By Valerie Strauss

"There is a new thing starting to happen in some places around the country: “Pandemic pods,” which are formed by families who can afford it, team up and pay for a teacher to come instruct their children.


For some of the parents, the instruction represents tutoring for material that students get at school. For others, it is a substitute. Some call it “micro schooling,” as did one educator on Facebook who wrote: “I’ve been hired as a white educator to teach a group of 5 white second graders (formerly in public schools) for the upcoming school year in a micro school setting. The parents are progressives and willing to let me design my own social justice based curriculum for the students throughout the year.”

My Post colleagues Laura Meckler and Hannah Natanson wrote about it in this story, saying:

"Weeks before the new school year will start, the trend is a stark sign of how the pandemic will continue to drive inequity in the nation’s education system. But the parents planning or considering this say it’s an extreme answer to an extreme situation.

The issue of inequity is what the following post is all about: how these new pandemic education pods replicate white flight. The phenomenon not only recalls the period when whites in the South resisted the Supreme Court’s 1954 historic school desegregation ruling in Brown v. Board of Education by opening private schools or by creating whites-only public school districts. It also reflects the current practice of school district “secession,” or the splintering off of whiter, wealthier districts from larger, more diverse ones.

This post was written by J.P.B. Gerald and Mira Debs. Gerald (@JPBGerald) is a doctoral student at CUNY — Hunter College, whose research focuses on white supremacy and racism in education. Debs (@mira_debs) is a sociologist who directs Yale University’s Education Studies program and researches school integration.

By J.P.B. Gerald and Mira Debs

The emails follow a common template: “I’m reaching out to see if you know of any recent early education graduates of Yale (with experience in teaching gifted children) in need of a position for the fall.”


The mother, or in some cases the personal assistant, asks to be matched to a Yale student or recent graduate who can home-school her child this fall. Half a dozen of these requests have landed in the inbox of Yale’s Education Studies program in the last few weeks, usually from a resident of one of Connecticut’s wealthier towns.


These parents are part of a new movement of “pandemic pods,” parents hiring teachers and tutors or forming a parent cooperative to teach a small number of students at home. Some of these are parents using their financial might to supplement their children’s online education in ways that other parents cannot, and some of these parents have dis-enrolled their children from public school.

The phenomenon is so new that there is no data on how many families are pursuing this option, but it does seem to be rapidly spreading; one Bay Area pandemic pod group set up two weeks ago on Facebook already has more than 10,000 members, and the director of a national home-school association has said that interest in the last few weeks has “literally exploded.”


With covid-19 surging in most parts of the country, federal leaders demanding schools physically reopen and threatening to withhold funds, and district policies that change by the week, parents (ourselves included) are in a desperate bind as they try to figure out a way to keep their jobs, keep their children safe and do what’s best for the community. Keeping your child at home if you have the privilege to do so may seem socially responsible: You are supporting social distancing and making limited classroom space available to other children.

 These personal decisions, however, have a collective consequence. If you don’t think it’s safe for your child to return to school, what makes it safe for other children, teachers and staff?

A little while ago, many of the same parents now forming pandemic pods — many of whom are white, affluent, or both — believed strongly in the power of collective action, posting black squares on their social media pages and placing Black Lives Matter signs on their front lawns.


When this potential hypocrisy was pointed out on Twitter, a number of responders wondered what these parents should do instead, or why this was problematic. Unfortunately, although pandemic pods may be a novel development, this pattern of fleeing public education is decades old.



When parents with privilege open their checkbooks and create private one-room schoolhouses for their children, they follow a long pattern of weakening the public education system they leave behind, especially in districts with predominantly black, Latinx, indigenous and low-income students. In the 1960′s, Southern white parents abandoned desegregating public schools to home-school or set up private segregation academies. Around the country, they fled the cities in bursts of white flight to the suburbs.


In the current accountability era, white parents can claim to be race-neutral, buying a house for the Great Schools score at the bottom of the Zillow listing but still perpetuating patterns of school segregation.

During covid-19, privileged families have already emptied wealthy neighborhoods in New York, buying up housing in surrounding areas. Parents seeking in-person options are flocking to private schools, all of which has a deleterious effect on the students with the most need, and the families with fewer means remain disproportionately families of color.

Pandemic pods follow all of these previous patterns of privileged flight, cocoons that may be well-intentioned but with potentially disastrous results for communities currently — and perpetually — in the crosshairs of this country’s oppression.


Many of these parents are politically liberal, but their school choices play right into the privatization playbook of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. As we know from the fight over charter schools and vouchers, a district loses local, state and federal funding for each child who disenrolls from the public system. Combined with budget cuts and teacher hiring freezes, pandemic pods might exacerbate the defunding of traditional public schools.

While some parents argue that by withdrawing from public school they are allowing for more social distancing in school, this supposedly altruistic private learning is a further example of opportunity hoarding. These parents are avoiding the collective action necessary to make districts more supportive of all their learners.

Here’s our advice for worried parents: Stay and fight. If you don’t think the school arrangements are safe for your child, then work to make sure that the schools reopen in a way that is safe for all children, teachers and staff.


The Heroes Act passed by the House would provide close to $60 billion to fund K-12 schools in reopening safely this fall. The Senate just began considering its own legislation. Any additional funding will pay for safety measures and could also support training for remote learning, lower class sizes and even pod-style tutors to support distance learning.

Instead of hiring private tutors, some parents and educators are collectively mobilizing. Parents in Oakland have organized a free summer school program with technology and tech assistance to the community. Next week, New Haven parents and educators are organizing a socially distanced car caravan to the state capital to demand additional funding to reopen.

After you’ve put a BLM sign up in your yard, take time to read the many resources for supporting the lives and education of black and brown students. Connect with parents and educators willing to share their experience and expertise.


Parents have immense power if they work together and not in isolation. We need to think critically about what it means to protect our children if that protection takes the form of giving them something that leaves others vulnerable to harm.

The pandemic’s disproportionate effect on communities of color will cause great damage if it destabilizes our public education system, and pandemic pods have a chance to be far more destructive than protective. If we are going to say that black lives matter, then our actions need to match our words."


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The Latest in School Segregation: Private Pandemic ‘Pods’ // The New York Times

The Latest in School Segregation: Private Pandemic ‘Pods’ // The New York Times | Charter Schools & "Choice": A Closer Look |

By Clara Totenberg Green

"As school districts across the nation announce that their buildings will remain closed in the fall, parents are quickly organizing “learning pods” or “pandemic pods” — small groupings of children who gather every day and learn in a shared space, often participating in the online instruction provided by their schools. Pods are supervised either by a hired private teacher or other adult, or with parents taking turns.

At face value, learning pods seem a necessary solution to the current crisis. But in practice, they will exacerbate inequities, racial segregation and the opportunity gap within schools. Children whose parents have the means to participate in learning pods will most likely return to school academically ahead, while many low-income children will struggle at home without computers or reliable internet for online learning.

As a social emotional learning specialist, I know how important connection, community and socialization are for children and adults. I also know that parents are being crushed under the weight of having to simultaneously parent, work, and teach their children. Nowhere is the anxiety, fear and devastation that is gripping our country more evident than in our education system. The appeal of learning pods is immense. For parents who need to work and can’t supervise their children’s learning, joining a pod may feel like the only way they can educate their kids and keep their jobs.

Based on what I’ve seen online, the learning pod movement appears to be led by families with means, a large portion of whom are white. Paradoxically, at a time when the Black Lives Matter movement has prompted a national reckoning with white supremacy, white parents are again ignoring racial and class inequality when it comes to educating their children. As a result, they are actively replicating the systems that many of them say they want to dismantle.


Take the school where I work, a racially and economically diverse public elementary school in the heart of Atlanta. It’s a gentrifying school within a gentrifying neighborhood. The building is bordered by half-a-million-dollar homes on one side, and low-income apartments on the other, where a large portion of our Black students live.

But while our school is diverse, it is not integrated. As is the case across the country, white families largely socialize with one another, white children are disproportionately represented in gifted and talented programming, and white parents dominate parent committees.

This segregation will only intensify if learning pods become the norm. When people choose members of their pod, they will choose people they know and trust. In a country where 75 percent of white people report that the network of people with whom they discuss important matters is “entirely white, with no minority presence,” it is not a leap to predict that learning pods will mirror the deeply racially segregated lives of most Americans.


Parents are also more likely to join pods with families who have similarly low exposure to the coronavirus. This seemingly rational impulse will, in practice, exclude many Black and Latinx families, who are disproportionately infected by the virus. In New York City, a staggering 75 percent of all the city’s essential workers are people of color. In Georgia, Black people make up a third of the population, but, as of the end of June, they accounted for about half of all COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths in the state.

Will privileged families that have limited exposure to the virus willingly opt into learning pods with children of essential workers? And if learning pod parents have to pay to hire someone or be among the parents able to supervise on a rotating duty, is this even an option for low-income families working essential jobs?


To compound the problem, I’ve heard from my colleagues that some parents are already pressuring school leaders to create class rosters that would enable the children in learning pods to have the same teacher, making the online instruction easier to manage for these families. The implications of this when we return to the classroom could be disastrous. Schools painstakingly design class rosters to create a diverse learning environment where the academic and social-emotional needs of every child are met. Altering class rosters for the convenience of privileged families will in effect displace Black and brown children from their classrooms.

Learning pods undermine the very reason some districts are going online in the first place. Like any environment in which people gather, they’ll potentially contribute to the spread of the virus in the communities in which they exist, and that could contribute to delays in the safe reopening of schools. And if schools remain closed, the children who suffer the most harm will be the ones who rely on schools for free and reduced meals, internet access and a place to go while their parents work essential jobs. These are the very same children who will most likely be excluded from learning pods.

Many will read this article and ask what they’re supposed to do instead. I don’t have the answer. Parents are in an unimaginably hard position. Raising children without the in-person schooling so many families rely on can be a nightmare on the most personal level.


Whatever parents ultimately decide, they must understand that every choice they make in their child’s education, even the seemingly benign, has the potential to perpetuate racial inequities rooted in white supremacy. The history of public schooling in this country is one in which white parents have repeatedly abandoned public schools, or resisted integration efforts at every turn. As a result, schools are more segregated today than during the late 1960s.

We can either take this moment to continue that pattern by retreating into the comfort of our own advantages, or we can act to dismantle racist educational policies, fight for equitable distribution of school funding and build authentic community with one another. Now is the time to reimagine our beliefs, our lives and what we’re willing to do to create a future that works for all children."


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NAACP Sues Betsy Devos // July 22nd, 2020

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Equity in Pandemic Schooling: An Action Guide for Families, Educators, and Communities 

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The City Fund Spending Prolifically to Privatize Public Education // Thomas Ultican

The City Fund Spending Prolifically to Privatize Public Education // Thomas Ultican | Charter Schools & "Choice": A Closer Look |

By Thomas Ultican 3/2/2020

The City Fund has joined the Walton Foundation, the Broad Foundation, and the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI) in the upper echelon of spending to privatize public education. (Gates is in a spending zone of his own.)  City Fund grants are of the same magnitude as CZI’s and approximately half the size as those from the Walton foundation. Since its establishment in July, 2018, City Fund reports issuing $110 million in large grants defined as more than $200,000; smaller grants not accounted for. Founders John Arnold and Reed Hastings have also provided the associated political action group, Public School Allies, with $15 million.

Reorganizing and Retooling the Attack on Public Schools

Reorganizing the Attack Little Sis Map

On the ides of March (2018), the Indy Star reported that David Harris the CEO of Mind Trust in Indianapolis was leaving to join a new national organization. Since Julius Caesar’s assassination, events linked to the ides of March are often viewed with alarm. This event portended a reorganized attack on public education and a new billionaire financed entity dedicated to establishing the portfolio model of public school management throughout America.

Until February of 2020, the secretive City Fund did not even have a web site. On July 31, 2018, City Fund Managing Partner, Neerav Kingsland, took to his blog and made public The City Fund – a new non-profit – and named its founding staff. He also arranged for a small group interview with The 74. Matt Barnum of Chalkbeat wrote an introductory piece called With big names and $200 million, a new group is forming to push for the ‘portfolio model.’” In December 2018, Barnum reported that The City Fund was starting an associated political action organization called Public School Allies. Since those few 2018 articles, The City Fund has operated in the dark.

This February they finally launched a web site and made available some accounting for their spending over the last year and a half. Because City Fund is a non-profit organization, they must soon file tax documents that will reveal in even more detail their spending and organizational structure. Their new transparency is apparently related to the imminent non-profit tax reporting requirements.

The Little SiS map above outlines some for the 2018 reorganization for the coming relentless attack on democratically run public schools. There were changes at The Mind Trust. It was co-founded in 2006 by Indianapolis Mayor Bart Peterson and the youthful lawyer he chose as his education guy, David Harris. It became the prototype corporate education reform local organization. In 2010, Harris and Mind Trust Vice President, Ethan Gray founded the Cities of Education Entrepreneurship Trust (CEE-Trust) which became Education Cities in 2014 after its disaster in Kansas City. This organization was designed to scale the Indianapolis methods of school privatization nationally.

In the 2018 reorganization, Mind Trust continued under new leadership and Education Cities was divided into two new school choice promoting organizations; School Board Partners and Community Engagement Partners. City Fund gave both new organizations $250,000 in seed money. Two lawyers, David Harris and Kameelah Shaheed-Diallo, left Mind Trust to become partners at City Fund. To insure Mind Trust’s continued success as an anti-democratic school privatizing organization, City Fund provided the new leadership with $18,000,000.

School Board Partners is an organization looking to co-opt elected school board members into furthering the portfolio model of education reform. They claim to offer training for school board members however every state requires school board members to go through training provided by the state. Community Engagement Partners purpose is continuing Education City’s support for local organizations that are working to privatize public education and instituting Betsy DeVos’s school choice agenda.

Education Cities CEO Ethan Gray became a Partner at The City Fund. Gray’s Director of Finance and Operations, Kevin Leslie, became Director of Grants and Operations at the City Fund. Education Cities Managing Partner Carrie Douglass became founding leader of School Board Education Partners. Senior Fellow Charles MacDonald is now Executive Director of Community Engagement Partners (CEP) and Associate Partner Rebecca Weinberg Jones became CEP Deputy Director.

Neerav Kingsland worked at both Arnold Ventures and The Hastings Fund before becoming Managing Partner of City Fund. He was also a board member of the California Charter Schools Association. Chris Barbic, the co-founder of YES Prep, worked at Arnold Ventures after a disastrous tenure leading Tennessee’s turnaround schools. He became a partner at City Fund in 2018. Noor Iqbal worked at Arnold Ventures and then for about a month at Mind Trust before becoming the Chief of Staff for City Fund. Ken Bubp worked first at Mind Trust, then Arnold Ventures and is now a Partner at City Fund.

Public School Allies

Founding City Fund staff member Gary Borden is no longer on the team, but he really is. Borden is now Managing Director of Public School Allies the 501 C4 organization established by City Fund to administer their political influence campaign. A lawyer by profession, Borden holds a bachelor’s degree from Pennsylvania State University, majoring in economics and international business, and JD from Georgetown University. Before taking on Public School Allies, Borden was executive director of California Charter Schools Association Advocates (CCSA Advocates), which is CCSA’s political influence organization. Borden lives in Oakland, California.

For last November’s elections in Louisiana, Borden sent $1,500,000 to Louisiana Federation of Children which also received large contributions from California billionaire William Oberndorf plus Arkansas billionaires Alice and Jim Walton. These funds were used for independent expenditures supporting choice friendly candidates; five running for the state school board and 20 vying for the state legislature."...


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Education Reform and Gentrification in the Age of #CamdenRising: Public Education and Urban Redevelopment in Camden, NJ // Keith E. Benson 

Education Reform and Gentrification in the Age of #CamdenRising: Public Education and Urban Redevelopment in Camden, NJ // Keith E. Benson  | Charter Schools & "Choice": A Closer Look |

Keith E. Benson
Education Reform and Gentrification in the Age of #CamdenRising: Public Education and Urban Redevelopment in Camden, NJ
 examines the perceptions and interpretations of Camden—a New Jersey community whose population is predominately minority, historically impoverished, and rapidly employing neoliberal strategies in public education and urban redevelopment. Using the framework of standpoint theory as a lens to alternatively view change and "progress" in Camden (dubbed by city officials as #CamdenRising), this book highlights the views of Camden residents who hold little sociopolitical capital yet are profoundly impacted by the city’s efforts in employing neoliberal approaches within urban development and public education.

This book will center current and future resident viewpoints on living in a city whose leadership employs neoliberal tactics in redevelopment and in rebranding public education. Participants in this work reported feelings of political alienation pertaining to participation in redevelopment and public education decision-making.

Further, participants also believe such recent efforts for change in Camden are intended to benefit a targeted, potentially gentrifying, population and not the majority low-income minorities who currently reside there."

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Inglewood Charter School with History of Alleged Wrongdoing Denied Renewal by County // Los Angeles Times

Inglewood Charter School with History of Alleged Wrongdoing Denied Renewal by County // Los Angeles Times | Charter Schools & "Choice": A Closer Look |

By Anna M. Phillips and Howard Blume
"The Los Angeles County Board of Education voted Tuesday to close an Inglewood charter school with a lengthy history of financial problems and mixed academic performance that illustrated flaws in California’s oversight system.

The board’s unanimous decision marks the third time it has attempted to shut down a charter school run by Today’s Fresh Start, a nonprofit started by a wealthy couple, Clark and Jeanette Parker of Beverly Hills. The group currently operates two charters on three campuses in Los Angeles, Compton and Inglewood.

Times investigation published last year found that although the Parkers have portrayed themselves as philanthropists, they have made millions from their charter schools.

The schools paid more than $800,000 annually to rent buildings the couple own, financial documents showed. They contracted out services to the Parkers’ nonprofits and companies and paid Clark Parker generous consulting fees, all with taxpayer money.


The couple spent tens of thousands of dollars on lobbyists and campaign contributions to many of the people responsible for regulating their schools, including school board members and state elected officials.

The Parkers have denied any wrongdoing, calling the claims against them baseless and manufactured by opponents of their schools.

The board’s Tuesday vote, which affects only the Inglewood charter, leaves the future of the school, its staff and its more than 400 students in doubt.

Jeanette Parker declined to comment following the decision.


Under current California law, Today’s Fresh Start can appeal the county’s decision to the State Board of Education. A possible appeal would most likely be heard before July, when a new law takes effect that significantly limits the state board’s power to approve charter schools that have been rejected elsewhere.

Decisions like the county board’s vote to close Today’s Fresh Start are rare. Los Angeles County is home to more than 350 charter schools, most of which are routinely renewed every five years by the local school districts where they are located. Only six schools appealed renewal denials to the county in 2017-18 — the last time appeals were heard — and three were denied.


In their recommendation to close the school, consultants hired by the county voiced concern about students’ stagnant performance on the state’s standardized English language arts tests and said the school hadn’t met the necessary academic criteria to be renewed. On both English and math tests, students’ scores increased between 2015 and 2017 and spiked upward in 2018 before declining last year. The overall picture, they wrote, was “troubling.”


The consultants also raised questions about the nonprofit’s management and fiscal practices, adding that many of their concerns had surfaced more than a decade ago when the county board last tried to close one of the organization’s schools.


“It should be noted that concerns regarding conflicts of interest and self-dealing were significant bases for revocation 12 years ago,” the report stated. “Those concerns regarding conflicts of interest and self-dealing have continued to follow [Today’s Fresh Start] to this day.”


In letter to the county board, the Parkers defended Today’s Fresh Start as one of the few African American-founded and operated charter schools in the state, serving mostly low-income black and Latino students. Its school in Inglewood is a “sanctuary” for those students, they wrote.


“We have been quite exemplary in administering our program for the last 10 years,” Jeanette Parker told the board.


Rahul Reddy, a lawyer representing the charter school, said the county had no reason to be concerned about self-dealing because Today’s Fresh Start’s five-year construction management contract with Clark Parker expired in 2018.


Founded in 2003, Today’s Fresh Start and its schools have weathered more than a decade of intense scrutiny from regulators at both the county and the Los Angeles Unified School District.


The county board voted to revoke its charter in 2007 based on a detailed report accusing the Parkers of self-dealing, financial conflicts of interest and wrongly administering the state tests.

The Parkers sued the county, and while the case worked its way through the courts Today’s Fresh Start applied to have its charter renewed, which the board also denied.

The state Board of Education overturned the county’s decision, however, giving the Parkers another chance.

In the years that followed, Today’s Fresh Start expanded. The Parkers won approval for a second charter school in Inglewood and, with the help of a nearly $20-million state grant, built a large school building on Imperial Highway.


In 2015, the Compton Unified School District assumed responsibility for overseeing one of the schools, later voting to extend its charter until June 2023.


The political landscape that drove the Parkers’ success began to shift last year.


change in leadership at the Inglewood school district led staff to begin paying closer attention to the charter schools within its jurisdiction. Last year, when Today’s Fresh Start asked to have its charter renewed, the school board refused, citing the school’s erratic academic performance and operational concerns — leading to the county appeal Tuesday.


To remain open in Inglewood, Today’s Fresh Start must win over the state board on appeal. Under previous governors, the board had a reputation as a rubber-stamp for charter school applicants, but its membership has changed since Gov. Gavin Newsom’s election.


The politics around charter schools have also evolved. In California and across much of the country, a growing backlash against charters has pushed left-leaning state legislatures to place stricter regulations on how the schools are opened and overseen.


Beginning in July, school districts in California will have more authority to deny charter applications. In addition to academic performance, they will be able to weigh a charter school’s potential fiscal effects on the local district and whether the charter plans to offer programs that the district already provides.


“It won’t just purely be unchecked discretion to deny,” said Lisa Mori, an attorney who specializes in charter school law. “But they do have more basis upon which to deny new petitions, whereas before boards were pretty constrained.”


The prospect of more empowered school districts has fueled anxiety among charter advocates.


“We encourage schools to submit their renewals early!” the California Charter Schools Assn. suggests on its website, noting the date the new law takes effect."...


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The Privatization of Education: A Political Economy of Global Education Reform // Antoni Verger, Clara Fontdevila, and Adrián Zancajo, 2016


Acknowledgments ix

Acronyms and Abbreviations x


1. The Globalization of Education Privatization: An Introduction 3

Inquiring into Education Privatization Processes 4

The Scope and Meaning of Educational Privatization 7

The Systematic Literature Review Approach 10

Book Structure 12

2. The Political Economy of Global Education Reform 15

Global–Local Divide 16

Material–Ideational Divide 20

The Scope and Dynamics of Policy Change 26

Conclusion 31


3. Education Privatization as a State Reform: The Ideological Road

to Privatization in Chile and the United Kingdom 35

The Neoliberal Influence in Education 36

An Education Privatization Laboratory: The Case of Chile 37

From Thatcherism to New Labour: The Case of the United Kingdom 45

Conclusion 53

vi Contents

4. Education Privatization in Social Democratic Welfare States:

The Nordic Path Toward Privatization 55

The Spread of Global Neoliberal Ideas 56

Political Institutions and Party Politics in the Nordic Region 57

New Social Democracy and the Modernization of the Welfare State 64

Conclusion 66

5. Scaling Up Privatization:

School Choice Reforms in the United States 69

School Choice Reform Breeding Grounds:

Discursive, Institutional, and Legal Contingencies 70

Policy Outcomes: The (Uneven) Advancement of Charter Schools and Voucher Programs 76

Conclusion 86


6. Privatization by Default in Low-Income Countries:

The Emergence and Expansion of Low-Fee Private Schools 89

A Growing Demand for LFPSs 90

The Global Promotion of LFPSs 95

Conclusion 102


7. Historical Public–Private Partnerships in Education:

The Cases of the Netherlands, Belgium, and Spain 104

The Netherlands: Pillarization and Religious Segregation 105

Belgium: Ups and Downs in a Private School Financing Agreement 109

Spain: The Consolidation of the Private Sector in the Transition to Democracy 112

Conclusion 116

8. Along the Path of Emergency:

Privatization by Way of Catastrophe 119

Education Privatization in Catastrophe Settings: Identifying Constant Features 119

Natural Disasters as an Opportunity to Privatize Education 121

Education Reform in Postconflict Contexts 128

Conclusion 132


9. The Emerging Role of Nonstate Actors

in the Promotion of Educational Privatization 137

Think Tanks: Producing Pro-Privatization Ideas 138

The Media: Means or Agents in Education Privatization? 140

Policy Entrepreneurs 141

Private Corporations and New Forms of Philanthropy 144

Advocating Privatization: Frequent Strategies of Influence 151

Conclusion 156

10. Resisting Privatization: The Strategies and Influence of Teachers’ Unions in Educational Reform 158

Teachers’ Unions Participation in Policy Processes: Different Models of Engagement 158

Unions’ Strategies and Repertoires of Action 162

Conditions of Influence: Opportunities, Risks, and Threats for Unions 167

Conclusion 175


11. Conclusions: A Cultural Political Economy of Education Privatization 177

The Multiple Trajectories of Education Privatization 177

The Political, Economic, and Cultural Forces Behind Education Privatization 185

Final Remarks: Political Implications, Future Directions 193

Appendix—Methodology: Key Components 196

Notes 201

References 208

Index 230

About the Authors 244


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Parents Turning to Tutors, “Pandemic Pods” to Help with Remote Learning // KQED

Parents Turning to Tutors, “Pandemic Pods” to Help with Remote Learning // KQED | Charter Schools & "Choice": A Closer Look |
More than 80 percent of California children are in districts that Governor Gavin Newsom says must use remote-only learning when schools return. That's prompted some parents to search for tutors or teachers to come to their homes - sometimes in pandemic pods with several families - to oversee distance learning. But these are options only available to those who can afford them, and it's raising concerns about further exacerbating rampant inequalities in public education.  We'll talk about the rush for private teachers and the questions it raises about equity.

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Uncharted: State's fascination with privatization leaves taxpayers vulnerable [OpEd] // The Journal Gazette

Uncharted: State's fascination with privatization leaves taxpayers vulnerable [OpEd] // The Journal Gazette | Charter Schools & "Choice": A Closer Look |

"On Monday, an Indiana deputy attorney general asked a judge to dismiss West Lafayette schools' challenge of a law allowing charter schools to claim unused public school buildings for $1. The judge agreed and ordered the school district to notify the state that Happy Hollow Elementary School is available to potential charter operators.

Deputy Attorney General Kelly Earls argued that West Lafayette's complaint was “hypothetical” because no charter school had laid claim to the building.

What's not hypothetical is the real estate racket that has allowed charter school operators to drain millions of dollars from Indiana and other states. West Lafayette's lawsuit represents a worthy effort to protect taxpayers' investment in their communities. The state, in turn, fights to serve the interests of an industry that has long prospered at public expense.

As majority party lawmakers double down on claims the money they have allocated for schools ends up with administrators instead of teachers, an honest accounting of Indiana's charter and voucher school costs is warranted. West Lafayette Community School Corp.'s lawsuit focuses on a single example of how our elected officials support privatization at the expense of students and teachers. The charter school industry is no friend to either.

A decade ago, The Journal Gazette reported a local charter school, Imagine MASTer Academy, was using state tax dollars to pay a for-profit landowner nearly triple in rent what it could have paid to own its building outright.

No one – not the governor, attorney general or any lawmaker – stepped up to protect taxpayers from that poor deal. None showed interest in the growing number of national headlines about charter school real estate scams. In announcing last week it was getting out of the charter school business, the former property owner of Imagine MASTer Academy illustrated why West Lafayette and other public school districts must challenge Indiana law.

Admittedly, the complex shell game is tough to follow, but no one should doubt who is prospering when an out-of-state real estate investment company boasts of 10.5% returns on a charter school portfolio that just sold for $454 million. Is it any wonder Indiana teacher salaries weren't growing?

EPR Properties of Kansas City, Missouri, bought Imagine's North Wells Street campus in 2008 from Schoolhouse Finance, the real estate arm of Imagine Schools Inc., a management group hired by businessman Don Willis and other area residents to operate the local charter school. The sales price was $5.5 million. Two years earlier, Schoolhouse had bought the campus from the YWCA. EPR, a real estate investment trust, sold it back to Schoolhouse eight years later for nearly $7.4 million. Just two years later, it was sold to Wallen Baptist Church for $3.25 million.

In the interim, Indiana taxpayers made rent payments of nearly $2 million in a three-year period alone. Under a triple net lease, the public was also on the hook for the for-profit company's property taxes, insurance and maintenance. When the charter school faced closure because of poor academic performance in 2013, Imagine was converted to Horizon Christian School. State officials, under another charter-friendly law, forgave $3.6 million in loans to Imagine.

We don't know how much Horizon Christian School paid in rent during its six years at the Wells Street site.Although the school, now at3301 E. Coliseum Blvd., is supported almost entirely by taxpayer-funded vouchers, its financial affairs are not subject to public access laws.

West Lafayette Community Schools Superintendent Rocky Killion said Tuesday that his district hopes to persuade local taxpayers and school districts affected by the $1 charter school provision to join their lawsuit. Perhaps another judge can be convinced that requiring taxpayers to give the school buildings they paid for to the highly profitable charter school industry is unconstitutional.

Better yet, lawmakers truly interested in supporting Indiana students and teachers will demand the law be repealed.


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Privatization of Public K-12 Education: Racial Disparities in Politics, Power, Policy, and Practice // Prepared for Race Equity through Prevention Workgroup, Santa Clara County Juvenile Justice Sys...

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Privatizing Schooling and Policy Making: The American Legislative Exchange Council [ALEC] and New Political and Discursive Strategies of Education Governance // Educational Policy 

Cashing In On Kids: 172 ALEC Education Bills Push Privatization in 2015


How Online Companies Bought America’s Schools


The Profit Motive Behind Virtual Schools in Maine


K12Inc: California Virtual Academies’ Operator Exploits Charter, Charity Laws For Money, Records Show


Enrollment in California Public Versus Charter Schools


Santa Clara County Office of Education Annual Charter School Databook


Death By A Thousand Cuts: Racism, School Closures, and Public School Sabotage //


IES National Center for Education Statistics: Percentage of Public School Students Enrolled in Charter Schools, By State (2014)


Center for Media and Democracy Publishes List of [2,200]+ Closed Charter Schools (with Interactive Map)


The Perfect Storm: Disenfranchised Communities [Video]


“School Closure Playbook” – [Video]


Charter School Closure Leaves Parents Scrambling For Alternatives


The Continuum of Structural Violence: Sustaining Exclusion Through School Closures


KIPP Refuses Agreement To Abide By Conflict of Interest Law: Gets Approved By State Board of Education


How Did The State Board of Education Vote on Controversial Charter School Petitions?


Separate and Unequal: The Problematic Segregation of Special Populations In Charter Schools Relative to Traditional Public Schools // Stanford Law and Policy Review 


Charter Schools, Civil Rights, and School Discipline: A Comprehensive Review: The Center for Civil Rights Remedies (UCLA)       


Are California’s Charter Schools The New Separate But Equal “Schools of Excellence”, or Are They Worse Than Plessy?


How Privatization Increases Inequality: Section 5: Privatization Perpetuates Socioeconomic and Racial Segregation // In The Public Interest!/vizhome/CostofCASuspensions/DistrictDash


NAACP Resolution Calling for a Moratorium on the Expansion of Charter Schools [Original]


KIPP Refuses To Abide By Conflict of Interest Code; Gets Approved By State Board of Education:


[Link no longer active – this was original document for State Legal Counsel’s opinion that a “charter school is subject to” government code 1090]


Charter School Vulnerabilities to Waste, Fraud, and Abuse 


Rocketship Pushes Expansion Despite State Denials and Strong Community Opposition //


John Danner (Co-Founder of Rocketship) Why Blended Schools Are “Whales” In The Ed Institutional Context Quote: “Schools like Rocketship will be a great way to test and validate products and we are happy to do it…”


New Orleans Charter School Problems Exposed at NAACP Hearing


“Blended Learning: A Wise Giver’s Guide to Tech-Assisted Teaching” // Philanthropy Roundtable (formerly chaired by B. Devos) //


Breaking Point: The Cost of Charter Schools For Public School Districts


Education School Dean: Urban School Reform Is Really About Land Development (Not Kids) //


Charter Schools, Race, and Urban Space: Where The Market Meets Grassroots Resistance //


Spending Blind: The Failure of Policy Planning In California’s Charter School Funding  //


A Comprehensive Guide To Charter School Closure


San Pablo Rocketship Appeal to State Board in Sacramento (Video with evidence of expanding gaps)


Cybercharters Have An Overwhelmingly Negative Impact 


Virtual and Blended Learning Schools Continue to Struggle and Grow


Red Flags Known and Overlooked With State Board Votes On San Jose Charter Schools //


How Will State Board of Education Vote on Controversial Charter School Petitions? //


Understanding Policies that Charter Operators Use for Financial Benefit


New Report Uncovers Systematic Failure by California Charter Schools to Meet Local Control Obligations


KIPP subset of posts on Charter Schools & “Choice”: A Closer Look page: 


Rocketship subset of posts on Charter Schools & “Choice”: A Closer Look page //


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Accountability Guidelines on School Pushout and Charter Schools // Dignity in Schools 

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