Charter Schools & "Choice": A Closer Look
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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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Cashing in on Charters // Five Part Series, Rimbach & Koloff, New Jersey Record

Cashing in on Charters // Five Part Series, Rimbach & Koloff, New Jersey Record | Charter Schools & "Choice": A Closer Look |
By Jean Rimbach and Abbott Koloff, New Jersey Record

A series in five parts
  1. Part One
  2. Part Two
  3. Part Three
  4. Part Four
  5. Part Five


Part I: 
Millions of your tax dollars have disappeared into New Jersey's flawed charter school experiment 

School buildings that are paid for with millions of dollars in public money but owned by private groups.


Inflated rents, high interest rates and unexplained costs borne by taxpayers.


And tax dollars used to pay rents that far exceed the debt on some school buildings.


This is the world of charter school real estate in New Jersey.

Where public money can disappear in a maze of intertwined companies. Where businesses and investors can turn a profit at taxpayer expense. And where decisions about millions in tax dollars are made privately, with little public input and little to no oversight by multiple state agencies.


More than two decades into the state’s experiment to create charter schools, which were conceived to provide residents with choices and to spur innovation, serious flaws in the design of the system have led to the diversion of millions of dollars in taxpayer money to private companies that control real estate.  

Two of the state's largest charter school operators, KIPP New Jersey and Uncommon Schools, have been permitted by the state to monopolize hundreds of millions of dollars in federal aid for public school construction, helping them to create networks of privately owned buildings. 


And investors positioned themselves to make millions from taxpayers, including real estate entrepreneurs, developers and a range of lenders."... 


For full post, see: 

For the KIPP subset of posts on the Charter Schools & Choice: A Closer Look page, see: 
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Families Stranded After Rocketship Charter School Fails to Open Ward 5 Location // Washington City Paper

Families Stranded After Rocketship Charter School Fails to Open Ward 5 Location // Washington City Paper | Charter Schools & "Choice": A Closer Look |

By Rachel M. Cohen

"Parents had until May 1 to enroll their children in schools matched through D.C.’s high-stakes school lottery. But families that selected a new Rocketship charter school in Ward 5 were in for a rude awakening: After the enrollment deadline had passed they learned the school they had chosen would not actually be opening. Rocketship, which operates two schools in Ward 7 and 8, had been set to launch its third campus this fall.


City Paper first learned about the situation on May 9 after speaking with a Ward 5 parent who was still struggling to find a new school for their child.


The parent, who requested anonymity, says the day after the enrollment deadline passed she received a voicemail from Rocketship telling her to call them as soon as possible. “I called as soon as I got off work and they said the Ward 5 school wouldn’t be opening, that something happened with the building so they can no longer move into the space they had planned,” she says. “They didn’t say why or what the reason was.”


Rocketship had been planning to temporarily lease space in the LAMB Public Charter School building on 18th and Perry streets in Northeast. Children would attend school there for one or two years before Rocketship relocated into a more permanent Ward 5 location.


On May 3, the day after learning her daughter’s school would not open, the parent reached out to MySchoolDC—the agency which handles school choice enrollment—for help finding an alternative. “There was just no level of sympathy for my situation. They didn’t sound overly familiar, there was no sense of urgency,” she says. When the parent pressed MySchoolDC for help, she says she was told that Rocketship was giving all families the chance to enroll in their Ward 7 and 8 campuses.


“But I picked Ward 5 based off proximity to my home, and those other schools were extremely inconvenient,” she says, adding that she also had safety concerns about those options.

After making clear she was not interested in sending her child to a campus far from her home, she says MySchoolDC told her she could always enroll her child in her in-bound traditional public school. But the parent wasn’t satisfied with that choice either. “If I had wanted that then I wouldn’t have gone through the MySchoolDC lottery in the first place,” she says.


The parent had her child on two other Ward 5 charter waiting lists—Yu Ying and Stokes—and asked if MySchoolDC could help her child get into those schools given the circumstances.

“I asked them if there was anything they could do to help students who were displaced and they told me that each school makes their own waitlist decisions and they can’t force any school to let children in,” she says. The parent then called the Public Charter School Board, where she says she was also told that the waitlist situation is out of their control.


More than ten days after getting the news that Rocketship’s Ward 5 campus would not open as expected, the parent was still waiting for waitlist updates and was actively considering private school options.


Joyanna Smith, the Ombudsman for Public Education with the DC State Board of Education, had also been planning to send her son to Rocketship’s Ward 5 campus. Smith tells City Paper that her family didn’t learn the school would not actually be opening until three days after the MySchoolDC enrollment deadline had passed.

“Someone called us to tell us Rocketship would not be opening because of a permitting issue but that we could probably get off the waitlist at Perry Street Prep,” she says. Perry Street Prep is housed in the same LAMB Public Charter School building that Rocketship was set to be in, and Smith will be able to enroll her child in the new school this week.


“I’m glad that we were able to settle things for my child, but in my role as SBOE ombudsman I feel there has been all this miscommunication,” she says. “If we had wanted we could have kept my son in private daycare, but for a lot of families they don’t have those same choices and that’s really frustrating.”


In an interview with City PaperJacque Patterson, the regional director for Rocketship DC, says 44 families had matched with Rocketship’s Ward 5 campus, and 22 families had enrolled. Their enrollment target had been 160 students (100 students in kindergarten through second grade, and 60 3 and 4-year-olds.)

But low enrollment numbers was not the reason why Rocketship decided to postpone opening its Ward 5 school, according to Patterson. He says that even if they had hit their enrollment goals, their temporary building location would have still required far more repairs than they had originally budgeted for.


Rocketship DC signed a letter of intent with Perry Street Prep in April to rent their third floor for the 2018-19 school year. Rocketship officials knew the third floor required a host of repairs, and toured the premises before they signed their letter of intent. Patterson tells City Paper that at the time, they concluded they could handle the scope of needed repairs. But, he says, “in the last two or three weeks” they brought in their own construction workers to assess the facility, and then determined the repairs would cost substantially more than what they had anticipated.


“The decision we made was that it’d be just impossible to open the school given the amount of construction and repairs that was needed for a one-year lease,” he says. “Even if we had enrolled all 160 children, it would not have been financially responsible and we wouldn’t have been able to provide all the programs and services we needed to.”


Patterson says the school will still be moving into a permanent Ward 5 building for the 2019-20 school year, though a precise location has not yet been finalized. He also says Rocketship worked with every family that had enrolled to help them find a new high-quality school. But the parent City Paper spoke with under the condition of anonymity says they still have yet to figure out what they’ll do next year.


City Paper asked the Public Charter School Board if Rocketship would face any consequence or penalty for its delayed opening. In 2014 the PCSB conditionally approved Rocketship to open eight schools throughout the city.


In a statement, Scott Pearson, executive director of the PCSB, says: “We’re very concerned any time a school fails to meet its charter commitment and that will be taken into consideration next time a school wishes to expand or open a new facility. We are particularly concerned about the students and their families which is why we required Rocketship PCS to work with MySchoolDC to help the affected families find alternate, quality education for this fall.”


Chloe Woodward-Magrane, a spokesperson for the DC Office of the State Superintendent of Education, tells City Paper that this is the second time that a campus has not opened or has delayed opening in the five years that MySchoolDC has been in existence. Catherine Peretti, the executive director of MySchoolDC, tells City Paper that she first learned of Rocketship’s decision to delay its Ward 5 opening on May 3.


City Paper asked Woodward-Magrane what kind of response they’ve received from families left to find new schools. In a statement, she says:

“OSSE and My School DC realize this is a challenging time for families matched with the Rocketship Public Charter School campus in Ward 5. My School DC is working with families enrolled at the Rocketship campus that will not open in order to restore the families to waiting lists of other schools they identified during the lottery process. Rocketship is also providing assistance to help them re-enroll in their current school placement or another Rocketship campus.”


Patterson will be leaving his role as Rocketship DC’s regional director on June 1 to start as KIPP DC’s Chief Community Engagement and Growth Officer. He tells City Paper he will also be joining Rocketship’s board of directors, and that a search to find his replacement is currently underway."


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The Jessica Marks Story: “Getting fired from KIPP was probably the best thing that ever happened to me.” // Schools Matter

By Jim Horn

"On February 19, 2014, former KIPP teacher, Jessica Marks, wrote to me after searching the web for any kind of confirmation that she might not be alone in her misery.  She had been fired by KIPP just before Christmas, after 5 months as an 8th grade English teacher for KIPP Austin. In her search for solace and understanding, she came across my blog, Schools Matter, which includes many posts about teachers’ experiences at KIPP.


This is Jessica’s letter to me:




'Hi, James—

I was wondering if you were still doing a study about KIPP - I got your email [address] from a blog that was posted more than a year ago, so I understand that you might be finished with your work.


In case you need more stories, I have time to talk and I would like to discuss what happened to me. I moved to Austin to teach English at KIPP Academy of Arts & Letters in July and I was fired in December. I am not bitter or angry about getting fired - please understand. I don't have a vendetta against the organization, and I hold everyone who is still at the school in high regard. I still believe in their mission of sending all students to and through college. However, KIPP misled me, and I think it is harmful for students and teachers to go there.


I had been teaching at an early college high school in Prescott Valley, Arizona. I'd become a kind of teacher celebrity (if there is such a thing) in the town over the four years that I taught there. In fact, I was even named one of three finalists for First Year Teacher of the Year by the Yavapai County Education Foundation. I was experienced—more so than any other core content teacher at KIPP Academy of Arts & Letter—but I left Arizona because I thought I could do more good.


Over the course of the six months that I worked at KIPP, I was harassed, ridiculed, and intimidated by administrators so much that I eventually suffered a nervous breakdown.


I'm on the mend, but KIPP squashed my spirit and my confidence and it did so without cause. I worked 90 hours a week and was told that "effort doesn't equate results" and then told to take better care of myself because "how did that look to the children to have someone so stressed out be their leader?".


If you would like to discuss further, I would be absolutely willing to talk or email more, if it would help you with your research. As a teacher (and as being a reporter before I was a teacher!) I can appreciate someone trying to find evidence for a study and I'd like to help.


I apologize if this email was too long or not what you were looking for. If your study is over, please accept my thanks for doing good work. The interviews I read online already have been validating and completely accurate.


All the best,

Jessica Marks'



When I first talked with Jessica the following week on February 27, 2014, she asked to remain anonymous, as did all but one of over two dozen teachers that I interviewed for my book, Work Hard, Be Hard: Journeys through ‘No Excuses’ Teaching.  Just weeks after being fired and in the throes of despondency, Jessica feared what her KIPP principal, or the KIPP Foundation, might do or what influence KIPP supporters might exert as retribution against her speaking out.  Jessica, too, suffered a deep sense of shame that is typical among former KIPP teachers for failing at a job that she had put her heart and soul into and had so obviously failed to meet the expectations of KIPP administrators. 


Jessica began work at as a KIPP teacher July 2013, and she was fired just before Christmas the same year. When I talked with her just two months later in February, she was still living in Austin, Texas and seeing a therapist for what she described as a nervous breakdown, which was clearly in full flower at the time she was fired in December.  Jessica’s principal at KIPP Academy of Arts and Letters had recommended a particular therapist, who he knew by way of at least one other KIPP teacher who, too, had suffered a mental and emotional breakdown while teaching at KIPP.  Following extensive treatment, that teacher had eventually returned to her job at KIPP. 


Even though Jessica’s treatment was extensive, too, her future would be quite different.  After some deliberation, Jessica would return to public school teaching the following school year.  And as I was to find out in 2017 when she contacted me once more, she would come to thrive anew.  


Today, Jessica no longer fears what KIPP Austin or the KIPP Foundation might do, or try to do, for sharing the truth about her experiences at KIPP.  Her documented accomplishments since leaving KIPP reach far beyond the fearful behavioral vice and unsustainable job expectations of KIPP’s corporate creed, where individual creativity quickly wilts within an organizational pressure cooker based on total compliance and unsustainable performance requirements.


With time, a good therapist, and a new job where she is valued, trusted, and rewarded, 
Jessica has regained her confidence and tapped into those deep wells of care and empathic understanding that made her a great teacher to begin with.  In fact, on April 27, 2018, Jessica Marks (her real name) will offer an address to the Yavapai County Education Foundation in Prescott Valley, Arizona. Her speech will be her last official act as Teacher of the Year for Yavapai County, Arizona will focus on the critical need to value teachers and teaching.


So based on our written communication and interviews, this is Jessica Marks’s story of what happened before and after her short stint as a KIPP teacher.  Spoiler alert: it is a story of how personal tragedy was disrupted by personal triumph and redemption." 

The Jessica Marks Story:“Getting fired from KIPP was probably the best thing that ever happened to me.” by ontogenyx on Scribd


For post on Schools Matter blog, see: 

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What's Charles Schwab Into? Charter Schools, Of Course // Inside Philanthropy

What's Charles Schwab Into? Charter Schools, Of Course // Inside Philanthropy | Charter Schools & "Choice": A Closer Look |
By Ade Adeniji

"Brokerage firm founder Charles Schwab rode the emerging wave of online investing to amass client assets of over $2 trillion, and he now has a net worth of $6 billion. 


Schwab is one of those people who's been rich for a very long time, since the 1970s, and he's now well along in his philanthropy. The Charles and Helen Schwab Family Foundation (CHSFF) funds programs in several areas, but of course, being a finance guy, Schwab's biggest passion is education and, more specifically, charter schools.


We're not sure why charters and finance billionaires go together like peas and carrots, but we'll save the theorizing for another article. What's notable about Schwab is that he's deeper into this area than many of the more glitzy hedge fund donors who get so much attention.  


Perhaps his profile is lower because he's based out West. While he's very much a national funder, with grantmaking that has reached into many states, such as New York and Massachusetts, Schwab's biggest investments have been in California. He was born and raised in the state, got a B.A. and an M.B.A. from Stanford University and Charles Schwab Corporation is headquartered in San Francisco. 


Let's take a closer look at what CHSFF has been funding in recent years.


The first thing that jumps out is that the foundation has put money into a pretty broad swath of the usual suspects in the ed reform world. These include charter school chains like Aspire Public Schools and KIPP, and charter advocacy outfits like the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools and California Charter Schools Association. CHSFF has also given money to Michelle Rhee's outfit, StudentsFirst.


The foundation is also working the human capital side of things, and has put money into Teach for America, The New Teacher Project, and the Stand for Children Leadership Center. Money has also gone for "ideas," with support for the Thomas Fordham Institute among a few other places. 


All in all, it's just the sort of diversified portfolio that a finance guy might put together.


A $1 million gift to the Charter School Growth Fund in 2011 stands out, not only because of the size of the gift but also because of its destination. Founded in 2005, the Charter School Growth Fund (CSGF) is a bit like the mother ship of the charter school movement, working to grow and professionalize this alternative ed sector. A lot of the major players in the charter school funding world have given to CSGF, including Walton, Gates, Dell, Bradley, and Fisher. Schwab 's investment here is yet more evidence that it's a core member of the charter cabal."... 

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Why Doesn't KIPP Sign Agreement To Abide By Conflict of Interest Law? (Government Code 1090) 


"The above video includes excerpts from the Santa Clara County Board of Education meeting on November 1st, 2017 where KIPP refused to sign a Memorandum of Understanding indicating that it would abide by Government Code 1090 related to conflicts of interest. The final board vote was 5 to 2 to deny the petition at the County level. This decision was overturned by the State Board, which rubber-stamped the charter on March 14th. 


Government Code 1090 is stated here:


For more information, see:

The Business of Charter Schooling: Understanding the Policies that Charter Operators Use For Financial Benefit // National Education Policy Center

KIPP's Efforts to Keep the Public in the Dark While Seeking Millions in Taxpayer Subsidies //  via Center for Media and Democracy 

Red Flags Known and Overlooked with State Board Votes on San Jose Charter Schools: 

The Failure of Policy Planning in California’s Charter School Facility Funding 


Charter School Vulnerabilities to Waste, Fraud, and Abuse: Federal Charter School Spending, Insufficient Authorizer Oversight, and Poor State & Local Oversight Leads to Growing Fraud Problems in Charter Schools // 


Letter from East Side Union High School District to State Board of Education Encouraging Denial of KIPP: 


“KIPP” Keyword Search Subset of posts from Charter Schools & Choice: A Closer Look collection: 


Charter Schools & Choice: A Closer Look 


Is Charter School Fraud The New Enron? 


School Privatization Explained 


NAACP Statement and Resolution Calling for a Moratorium on Charter School Expansion   


For update, see: 


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Student/Parent Concerns Expressed About Experiences at KIPP School // NY Public School Parents 

Student/Parent Concerns Expressed About Experiences at KIPP School // NY Public School Parents  | Charter Schools & "Choice": A Closer Look |

[Re-shared from NY Public School Parents page. Original title: "At KIPP, I would wake up sick, every single day"] 


"A few months ago, Class Size Matters met with a former KIPP student who lives in the Bronx and her mother to hear about their experiences at the celebrated charter school. What follows are excerpts from this interview.  The girl’s name has been changed to protect her privacy.

: Students who are accepted to KIPP and who have IEP's [individualized education plans] do not get the correct services or help to be successful.  The school would rather make it difficult, leaving the parent frustrated and forcing her to remove her child. The principal always invited me to take my child out if I did not like the way she was being treated.  My response was always, "She has a right to be here just like any other child who went through the lottery system.  She will stay until she finishes."  My reasons for her to continue were because the curriculum was good and I knew that she could benefit academically from the rigorous demands, but sometimes they went to the extreme and she suffered for it."...


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KIPP Principal Quits After Workers Drink With Minors on Campus // Houston Chronicle

KIPP Principal Quits After Workers Drink With Minors on Campus // Houston Chronicle | Charter Schools & "Choice": A Closer Look |

By Erin Mulvaney


"The founding principal at KIPP Sunnyside High School has resigned after not reporting that several staff members brought alcohol to campus this summer and drank with minors, a school spokeswoman said.


Principal Shannon Wheatley was not on the charter school campus at the time of the incident, but he was aware that the gathering took place, KIPP spokeswoman Chris Gonzalez said.


“It is unacceptable to have alcohol on our campuses,” Gonzalez said. “No children were on campus, but regardless of that we have to hold that line. The principal was not there. He wasn’t even in town, but he did not report it to the administration.”


“We took a hard stance because he was aware and did not follow our protocol,” Gonzalez said.


Gonzalez could not elaborate on whether Wheatley was forced to resign. She said he is no longer employed by KIPP.


Wheatley could not be reached for comment.


The principal resigned on Aug. 9, after four clerical staff members brought alcoholic beverages onto campus after hours sometime in July, Gonzalez said. No students were present but two college-aged alumni drank at the unauthorized gathering.


The alumni were volunteers interning at KIPP over the summer. Gonzalez said she does not know if the incident was reported to police.


The four clerical staff members are also no longer employed at KIPP, she said."...


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Michael Feinberg, A Founder of KIPP Schools, Is Fired After Misconduct Claims Of Sexual Abuse Of A Minor // The New York Times

Michael Feinberg, A Founder of KIPP Schools, Is Fired After Misconduct Claims Of Sexual Abuse Of A Minor // The New York Times | Charter Schools & "Choice": A Closer Look |

By Anemona Hartcollis
"KIPP, one of the country’s largest and most successful charter school chains, dismissed its co-founder on Thursday after an investigation found credible a claim that he had sexually abused a student some two decades ago, according to a letter sent to the school community.


The co-founder, Michael Feinberg, was accused last spring of sexually abusing a minor female student in Houston in the late 1990s, according to someone with close knowledge of the case who was not authorized to speak publicly and asked not to be identified. An outside investigation found her claim credible after interviewing the student and her mother, who both gave the same sequence of events. Mr. Feinberg denies the accusation, his lawyer, Christopher L. Tritico, said.


Investigators also uncovered evidence that Mr. Feinberg had sexually harassed two KIPP employees. One case, in 2004, led to a financial settlement, the letter said; the other could not be corroborated because the woman involved would not cooperate, but the letter found it to be credible.


“We believe that Mr. Feinberg’s actions were incompatible with the leadership qualities that are central to our mission,” said the letter, which was sent Thursday afternoon to teachers, administrators and families of students.


Mr. Feinberg was told of his dismissal at a meeting on Thursday in Houston.


Mr. Tritico said an initial investigation last summer by outside counsel for KIPP’s Houston board had found the 1990s allegation to not be credible, before a second investigation by WilmerHale, a law firm specializing in sexual misconduct, reversed that finding.


He said Mr. Feinberg had never been told of the precise allegations against him, and had not been given a chance to defend himself. “The investigation was conducted without even the most rudimentary form of due process,” Mr. Tritico said.

KIPP said the first investigation found the claim inconclusive.

The program, started in Texas in 1994 with 47 fifth-grade students, achieved extraordinary results with poor and minority schoolchildren and became a model that many others sought to replicate around the country. Today it has nearly 90,000 students and 209 schools in 20 states. The vision of Mr. Feinberg and the other founder, David Levin, Ivy League graduates who came together through Teach for America in the early 1990s, is largely credited with its success.


In the early years, Mr. Feinberg was a teacher and administrator in Houston, but his current role had been mainly external — fund-raising, lobbying, political advocacy and college partnerships. In the year ended June 2016 — the latest period for which the organization’s tax filings were available — Mr. Feinberg received $231,885 in compensation and benefits while working for KIPP’s Houston schools, and $220,241 for work at the parent foundation in San Francisco, the filings show.


KIPP Houston Public Schools, as the local chapter is known, contacted Texas Child Protective Services, which declined to investigate because the victim was no longer a minor, according to the person with knowledge of the case. After an initial investigation, KIPP Houston and the KIPP Foundation hired WilmerHale.


Mr. Feinberg is the latest in a cascade of prominent men to be forced out of jobs over sexual misconduct allegations since October, when dozens of women stepped forward to accuse the film producer Harvey Weinstein of sexual abuse. The Weinstein allegations touched off a movement that has added impetus to investigations of sexual assault and raised the discussion about sexual harassment.


“It certainly is not a good time for anyone to be accused of something like this,” Mr. Tritico, Mr. Feinberg’s lawyer, said.


Mr. Levin said he had spoken to Mr. Feinberg about the matter, but he would not describe the conversation. “It is very hard to reconcile — I’ve known Mike for almost 30 years,” Mr. Levin said. “To reconcile what we’ve learned as a result of this investigation and the evidence that’s been presented to us with the work I’ve known him to do is very hard.”...


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KIPP High School Petition Denied By Santa Clara County Board // San Jose Mercury News 

KIPP High School Petition Denied By Santa Clara County Board // San Jose Mercury News  | Charter Schools & "Choice": A Closer Look | 

Marian Hall Killian's comment, February 6, 2018 2:13 PM
Cheers to the Santa Clara County School Board for blocking this Kipp High School. With this decision, the SCCSB demonstrates its stewardship responsibility to educate the majority of all students, advocate for valuable programs for all students and to remain fiscally sound in the process. The Kipp people have none of this accountability. CA charter policy allows these charter companies to take public education dollars while having none of the fiscal accountability or responsibility to educate all children in the district.
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"Student Enrollment & Charter School Marketing Playbook" // (Arnone & Tilford) Bain & Company

Available online at 


KIPP is featured heavily in this document. For a subset of posts on KIPP, see: 

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KIPP Mothers Want to Sue Charters

KIPP Mothers Want to Sue Charters | Charter Schools & "Choice": A Closer Look |

By Julian Vasquz-Heilig

"If you are paying attention, the evidence about KIPP charter schools, a darling of the charter movement, is not all roses and bows. This blog actually began back in 2012 in response to a KIPP charter schools press release. The KIPP press office..."  

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Mapping the Terrain: Teach For America, Charter School Reform, and Corporate Sponsorship // Kretchmar, Sondel, & Ferrare, 2014, Journal of Education Policy

Mapping the Terrain: Teach For America, Charter School Reform, and Corporate Sponsorship // Kretchmar, Sondel, & Ferrare, 2014, Journal of Education Policy | Charter Schools & "Choice": A Closer Look |

ABSTRACT from Journal of Education Policy - "In this paper, we illustrate the relationships between Teach For America (TFA) and federal charter school reform to interrogate how policy decisions are shaped by networks of individuals, organizations, and private corporations. We use policy network analysis to create a visual representation of TFA’s key role in developing and connecting personnel, political support, and financial backing for charter reform. Next we examine how the networks unfold at a local level by zooming in on a case study of New Orleans. By mapping out these connections, we hope to provide a foundation for further investigation of how this network affects policies."...


For main journal publication page, click on title or image above. For pdf of article, email authors of the manuscript or curator of this collection.  


For subset of TFA-related articles in the Charters & Choice: A Closer Look collection, click here:

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KIPP Teacher Caught Bruising Student // Schools Matter

KIPP Teacher Caught Bruising Student // Schools Matter | Charter Schools & "Choice": A Closer Look |

By Jim Horn

"The KIPP Model is both unustainable and inhumane in numerous ways that I document in a new book that examines inner workings of "no excuses" charter schools. Both teachers and students are being used, abused, and discarded in order to benefit a paternalistic corporate ideology that advantages powerful elites at the expense of the most vulnerable children. Parents should be up in arms.

When teachers with little teacher preparation or child development training and even less understanding of disadvantaged children's needs are commanded by school CEOs to keep children in a psychological lockdown state and laser focused on raising test scores by any means necessary, abused children often result.  The abusers are rarely apprehended, and if they are, they are almost never prosecuted.

After earlier KIPP abuse incidents this school year in New Orleans and St. Louis, a Denver KIPP is the latest venue for, yet, another bruised and battered KIPP student.  It is time for the white elites who support this dehumanizing form of education for the children of the poor to share the liability for this kind of predictable outcome that has become commonplace, even though most incidents go unreported to parents or police.

From Channel 9 in Denver:"... 


For full post, click title above or here: 

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Ep. 19 AB 221 Capitol Research Forum - Ban Teach For America? 


Truth For America is a podcast about Teach For America (TFA) that provides voice to educators, parents, students, and other key stakeholders. Truth For America is co-hosted by Dr. Julian Vasquez Heilig and Dr. T. Jameson Brewer.

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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...

To download, click on title or arrow above. File is a pdf with live links to cited documents. Selected/related links are below:


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 //


For more with current updates, please see:


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Schools or Boot Camps? #KIPP Charter School Students Without Time For Bathroom Breaks or To Eat Lunch // Schools Matter [via ABC News 7 On Your Side]  

Schools or Boot Camps? #KIPP Charter School Students Without Time For Bathroom Breaks or To Eat Lunch // Schools Matter [via ABC News 7 On Your Side]   | Charter Schools & "Choice": A Closer Look | 

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#KIPP Refuses Agreement To Abide By Conflict of Interest Law; Gets Approved By State Board of Education // EduResearcher 

#KIPP Refuses Agreement To Abide By Conflict of Interest Law; Gets Approved By State Board of Education // EduResearcher  | Charter Schools & "Choice": A Closer Look |

[Original Title]: Will KIPP Be Allowed To Bypass Conflict of Interest Law In Its Bid For State Funds?

[3/14/18] Update: The California State Board of Education has voted to approve two KIPP petitions to expand campuses into San Francisco and San Jose despite strong community resistance and knowledge of the charter chain's refusal to abide… 

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Letter from East Side Union High School District to State Board of Education Trustees Urging Denial of KIPP

Letter from East Side Union High School District to State Board of Education Trustees Urging Denial of KIPP | Charter Schools & "Choice": A Closer Look |

Link to download full letter is available here: 

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"What Makes KIPP Work? A Study of Student Characteristics, Attrition, and School Finance" // National Center for the Study of Privatization in Education, WMU 

"What Makes KIPP Work? A Study of Student Characteristics, Attrition, and School Finance" // National Center for the Study of Privatization in Education, WMU  | Charter Schools & "Choice": A Closer Look | 

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No Excuses: A Critique of the Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP) Within Charter Schools In The USA // Journal For Critical Education Policy Studies  


"The purpose of this paper is to proffer a critical perspective about a specific brand of American schools within the larger charter school movement: the Knowledge Is Power Program (KIPP). KIPP is currently receiving wholesale acclaim as a radical alternative to public schooling ―that works.‖ While KIPP schools ostensibly claim that college acceptance for all students is their primary goal, the principles and practices that undergird their mission are founded upon capitalistic and militaristic ideals that run counter to the ideals of democratic education. I argue that KIPP schools merely preserve the status quo by asking students to overcome overwhelming disparities through ―hard work and ―motivation, instead of addressing the structural sources of poverty and poor academic achievement—i.e., the unequal distribution of resources in schools and society. By subscribing to a dictum of no excuses, KIPP essentially puts the onus on the victims of poverty and institutional racism. This clearly conveys the fallacy to urban students that failure in this society will solely be a reflection of not working long and hard enough, or simply not complying with rules set by those with authority."


To download full paper, click on title, arrow above, or here: 

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Letter to State Board of Education from East Side Union High School District to Urge Denial of KIPP // ESUHSD 

To download, click on title or arrow above. 

For an updated version of this letter to the State Board Trustees, please see: 

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Why Investor Whitney Tilson Is Betting Against K12 

Why Investor Whitney Tilson Is Betting Against K12  | Charter Schools & "Choice": A Closer Look |

By Tony Wan

"Nothing should unite both critics and fans of education technology more than reports of companies making big money from shoddy products. But what about when the critic may also make a profit by betting that a company will tank because of its lackluster service and results?

At the Value Investing Congress in New York City on September 17, hedge fund manager Whitney Tilson of Kase Capital delivered a whammy of a case against online school provider, K12 Inc., with a 110-slide talk on "An Analysis of K12 (LRN) and Why It Is My Largest Short Position," shared on Business Insider. He said that K12 is his portfolio’s biggest short position.


Tilson is a staunch and outspoken fan of education reform. He blogs regularly on education reform and circulates weekly newsletters championing charter schools, reform and edtech in general. He joined Teach for America in its early days and serves on the board of KIPP. And he invests.


At last week’s meeting, Tilson argued that K12 Inc., the largest online K-12 education provider in the U.S., and manager of online charter schools in 33 states and D.C., is due for a fall. Although the company’s stock (ticker: LRN) has risen 70% since January 2012, Tilson says it’s “absurdly overvalued and sure to collapse.”

Tilson’s analysis of why K12 is a poor investment briefly describes its financial numbers, then dives deeply into why it’s failing to deliver education value.


On the numbers (slides 11-19): K12 says its revenue has grown 32% annually over the past decade and that projected earnings per share is expected to climb 32% over the next 12 months. Smoke and mirrors, contends Tilson. He notes that although net income and EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) have climbed over the past two years, revenue growth is slowing. Profit margins (over the past two years) have been erratic. And other indicators--how long it takes K12 to get paid, its aggressive accounting practices, and so on--make Tilson jittery.

Even more ominous are Tilson’s concerns about K12’s practices. Among them: (slide 8):


  • "K12's aggressive student recruitment has led to dismal academic results by students and sky-high dropout rates, in some cases more than 50% annually."
  • "I have been looking for years and have not found a single K12 school that is free of scandal and posting even decent (much less good) academic results."

Through personal interviews, analysis of a class action suit and media coverage, Tilson has compiled a lengthy indictment of the quality of K12's service. He recounts stories from former employees (slides 21-25) who say the company follows a "growth-at-any-cost mentality" and "increasingly target[s] at-risk students that it knows are likely to fail." He has strong reservations against K12's publicized academic "successes" after poor results and "sky-high" dropout rates at its schools in Colorado, Pennsylvania and Tennessee (slides 33-59). These issues, along with other regulatory infractions, place K12 under intense scrutiny from state officials. Tilson notes that the company will not be opening schools in any new states next year (slide 81).

Following his presentation, Tilson wrote in an email that "K12 reminds me of the subprime mortgage lenders and for-profit colleges when they were flying high--and the ending will be similar I believe."...


Full post is at the following page: 

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Charter Schools, Race, and Urban Space: Where the Market Meets Grassroots Resistance // Kristen L. Buras [Review Published on Teachers College Record] 

Charter Schools, Race, and Urban Space: Where the Market Meets Grassroots Resistance // Kristen L. Buras [Review Published on Teachers College Record]  | Charter Schools & "Choice": A Closer Look |

Book Review by Ciro Viamontes & Miriam D. Ezzani August 14, 2017 [TCR]
"In Charter Schools, Race, and Urban Space: Where the market meets grassroots resistance, Kristen Buras reveals details of the remarkable story of the privatization of public schools in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. A New Orleans native, Buras brings to this study the influential context of the historical past of New Orleans public schools and educational policy. The text can be taken as an ethnography of the public policy conflicts between white and nonwhite communities in the context of extant hegemonic social structures that prohibit educational access. This historical setting takes on deeper significance when we are reminded that New Orleans was home to Homer Plessy, whose resistance to segregation there led to the infamous 1896 Supreme Court decision in Plessy v. Ferguson. Buras’ advocacy and activism experience with the Urban South Grassroots Research Collective for Public Education (USGRC) will no doubt be used to attack the validity of this work. Yet Buras clearly addresses her positionality and acknowledges that “The critique presented in this book of market-based school reform does not imply the preexisting system in New Orleans was ideal” (p. 3). The included appendix on methodology further addresses and clarifies Buras’ positionality.


Buras argues that “black education writ large cannot be understood adequately without examining the reconstruction of public education in the South” (p. 9). Moving towards that understanding, Buras expands her previously published research. Chapters Two and Six examine the actions of the white power elite, while Chapters Three and Four examine community efforts to secure equity in educational opportunities. Rather than examine this book in a linear chapter by chapter fashion, it may be helpful to think in conceptual terms. Using critical race theory, Buras proposes three conceptual facets to the political ecology of market-based privatization efforts: whiteness as property, accumulation by dispossession, and urban space economy. Arguing that New Orleans may be the American city that historically demonstrates the harshest forms of white supremacy, Buras leads us to understand how these factors intertwine to limit educational opportunities for communities of color.


Charter school-based educational reform in New Orleans is a collaboration which can appropriately be examined as an ecological system (p. 40). The Recovery School District (RSD) effectively represents the interests of the white political establishment and educational entrepreneurs/reformers. The RSD acted with astonishing speed in taking over the public-school system post Katrina. Tacit support of the takeover came from the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE), Governor Blanco, Senator Landrieu (Democrat) and the State Legislature, with the assistance of national groups such as the Heritage Foundation, Teach for America (TFA), and the Cowen Institute. These actions, seen as a response to the catastrophe, incited little if any resistance to the actions of the RSD. Meanwhile, accumulation by dispossession is evidenced by the RSD’s elimination of a school district by taking control of the buildings. This allowed the en masse firing of veteran teachers, predominantly people of color who had evacuated, as their jobs no longer existed. Citing a “teacher shortage” BESE then contracted with Teach for America (TFA) allowing the RSD to replace fired teachers with inexperienced, non-certified, non-union, predominantly white teachers. TFA recruitment efforts focused on teaching in communities of color as an entrepreneurial opportunity. This entrepreneurial spirit spearheaded by the RSD functions to recruit white people to come to New Orleans. Other examples of accumulation by dispossession through RSD actions can be viewed as malicious: a dramatic example is the diversion of funds from the state of Louisiana's resources for the displaced teachers’ salaries and benefits to the operating budgets of charter schools inheriting the former school district’s buildings.


Buras also shows how the historically racist political ecology served to shape the space economy of the city. The least desirable, lowest elevation, and thus most vulnerable areas became the predominately African-American areas (p. 12). It is for this reason that the African-American community suffered the brunt of the damage caused by Katrina. In these most vulnerable areas of New Orleans, grassroots groups have been struggling to mitigate the impacts of this historically inequitable political ecology. Delays in opening schools in African American communities, such as Bywater and the Ninth Ward continues to impact the space economy. After five years of RSD management, only three schools were reopened in the Bywater and lower Ninth Ward (p. 60). Even then, Frederick Douglass High School was reopened as a selective admittance charter school by the Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP). There are effectively no open enrollment high schools available to residents in the Bywater community, where Douglass served as a locus of community resistance to the white supremacist political ecology. Schools that were reopened relatively quickly were on the periphery of African-American areas near predominately white areas. The pattern of RSD re-establishment of educational facilities serves as a disincentive to African-Americans wishing to return to New Orleans, and also undermines grassroots movements.


The concluding chapter of this book is a refutation of the charter school incubator New Schools for New Orleans (NSNO) Guide for Cities. The NSNO Guide offers a template of lessons learned to facilitate other cities enacting New Orleans style market-based school reforms. Crafted in part by the USGRC, this chapter refutes four main points of the Guide using, in part, testimonies of community based groups that resisted the market-based reforms. Taken from a critical race theory perspective, these counterstories are used with other evidence to present the experiential perspective of communities of color on the lessons learned from the implementation of this public educational policy. These counterstories thematically share the argument that allegedly innovative market-based reforms fail to serve the needs of the students and the communities they live in. These failures are comprised of the marginalization of experienced minority teachers in favor of predominantly inexperienced white teachers, the restructuring of public education as a primarily profit generating asset, reducing access to special education services through “cost containment” measures, and a non-democratic process of external actors imposing reforms without regard to community input or participation. The last lesson is dramatically illustrated in a graphic representation of the relationship between and among the NSNO leadership and other outside actors.


Charter Schools, Race, and Urban Space represents a meticulously crafted work on the complexity of social justice issues in public education reform. Moving outside of the classroom and curriculum, this work details how historically inequitable political, economic, and social factors come together to create a “broken” educational system that limits the opportunities of communities of color. Rather than address the inequities of this artificially broken system Buras illustrates the reality of market-based reforms, which create a mechanism for educational “entrepreneurs” to profit from maintaining limited educational opportunities for communities of color. Further, Buras shows that the New Orleans experience is actively being presented as a template for public school privatization. This is an eye-opening book for anyone interested in the debate surrounding charter school based systems of reform."


Teachers College Record, Date Published: August 14, 2017 ID Number: 22135, Date Accessed: 10/17/2017


Title: Charter Schools, Race, and Urban Space Where the Market Meets Grassroots Resistance 
Author(s): Kristen L. Buras
Publisher: Routledge, New York
ISBN: 0415814626, Pages: 230, Year: 2014

For original review in Teacher's College Record, see:  

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How Hedge Funds Will Profit from School Privatization // Alan Singer 

How Hedge Funds Will Profit from School Privatization // Alan Singer  | Charter Schools & "Choice": A Closer Look |

By Alan Singer 

"In the News: A number of news items in recent weeks show how powerful money-brokers work inside and outside the law in their war on public education in the United States.

(1) In the State of Washington, a State Supreme Court Judge up for reelection sided with a 6-to-3 court majority in a ruling that declared a state law directing tax dollars to independently run charter schools unconstitutional. To remake the court in their image hundreds of thousands of pro-charter Bill Gates and Paul Allen “Microsoft money” was donated to support his opponents campaign. Fortunately Washington voters rejected the charter judge, this time.

(2) Federal authorities charged seven leaders of the Platinum Partners hedge fund with fraud for operating what was alleged to be a “Ponzi scheme.” They kept the fund afloat by continually using money from new investors to pay off older investors who wanted out. Mark Nordlicht, founder and the chief investment officer for Platinum, also dabbles in operating low-cost religious schools that would benefit from the Trump-Amway DeVos voucher give-away

(3) The New York Times Business pages featured Bill Ackman of Pershing Square Holdings in an article they called “Hedge Fund Math: Heads or Tails, They Win.” It seems that even when his hedge fund performs poorly, Ackman always takes a profitable slice of the pie. According to the Los Angeles Times, Ackman’s Pershing Square Foundation has poured millions of dollars into promoting charter schools in their city. Ackman, through his foundation, is also a major donor to private schools and to Teach for America.

(4) Old friends at New York’s Success Academy Charter Network are under investigation by the city’s Comptroller for lax financial oversight, poor record keeping, understating administrative costs, and for billing the Department of Education for special education services they did not provide to students. The charter schools transferred money earmarked for the education of the students to the governing charter network and could not adequately account for what happened to $25 million worth of computers, desks, whiteboards, and other supplies.

(5) Carol Burris, Executive Director of the Network for Public Education, writing in the Washington Post, documented the salaries charter school magnets pat themselves. KIPP co-founder David Levin received a compensation package of nearly $475,000 from the KIPP Foundation in 2014. Co-founder Mike Feinberg received $219,596 from KIPP Inc., and another $221,461 from the KIPP Foundation. Success Academy’s Eva Moskowitz paid herself $600,000 in 2014 as the CEO of forty-one charter schools. The online for-profit charter company K12 paid its CEO $650,000 in salary plus a series of bonuses that brought his total compensation package to over a million dollars.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics the “total expenditures for public elementary and secondary schools in the United States amounted to $620 billion in 2012-13, or $12,296 per public school student.” If American schools were an independent country, they would have the 21st largest economy in the world. This is a very big financial pie, certainly big enough to make hedge fund managers drool.


The question is, how would hedge funds profit from the Trump-“Amway” DeVos voucher plan if school dollars follow each student?

The two biggest expenses in running a school are teacher salaries and benefits and the cost of building and maintaining school buildings. The key to making a profit is hiring low-paid poorly trained non-union transient teachers who follow scripted test-aligned lessons, finagling free space in existing schools so the public picks up the cost of the facility, and attracting public dollars.


Let’s take a hypothetical small school in an average American community with a hundred students. Each of those kids is worth about $15,000, so the hundred students would be worth $1.5 million. Not a large amount for hedge funds, but not an insignificant amount for normal human beings.

The average beginning teacher’s salary in the United States is about $40,000 a year. With benefits figured at an additional 50% it would bring their cost to $60,000 per teacher. More experienced and better educated teachers cost significantly more. Average salary is about $60,000 a year and the benefits package would bring cost closer to $100,000 because it now includes higher pension payments.


If our hypothetical school had five beginning teachers for their 100 kids, the cost for teachers would be about $300,000, but if they had a very experienced staff the cost would be closer $500,000. Hiring inexperienced transient teachers alone frees up $200,000 to pay corporate administrators and investors.


But if our charter network operated ten small schools with a thousand students, its gross would be $15 million and the benefit of hiring inexperienced transient teachers alone would be $2 million.


Now if our charter network operated a hundred small schools with ten thousand students we are starting to talk about real money. Its gross would be $150 million and the benefit of hiring inexperienced transient teachers alone would be $20 million.

Michigan, Betsy DeVos’ home state, has 1.5 million children attending public elementary and secondary schools and spends about $11,000 per student. If charter networks operated all of Michigan’s schools, we are talking about $16.5 billion. Now that is real money! The charter network could stash away profits of $5.5 billion just my having high teacher turnover.

But that’s not the only way the hedge fund charter networks and private schools will make money. Inexperienced teachers need scripted lessons, staff development, and supervision, so the hedge fund schools can outsource these activities to subsidiary companies. They can also buy books, tests, supplies, computer software and hardware, and guidance services from their own companies and award maintenance contracts to themselves.

This is how the great philanthropists that run the hedge funds can make money if they succeed in privatizing education in the United States."

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KIPP's Efforts to Hide Data While Seeking Millions in Taxpayer Subsidies // via Center for Media and Democracy 

KIPP's Efforts to Hide Data While Seeking Millions in Taxpayer Subsidies // via Center for Media and Democracy  | Charter Schools & "Choice": A Closer Look |

By Lisa Graves and Dustin Beilke
"Charter schools are big business, even when they are run by "non-profits" that pay no taxes on the revenue they receive from public taxes or other sources.


Take KIPP, which describes itself as a "national network of public schools."


KIPP (an acronym for the phrase "knowledge is power program") operates like a franchise with the KIPP Foundation as the franchisor and the individual charters as franchisees that are all separate non-profits that describe themselves as "public schools."

But how public are KIPP public schools?

Not as public as real or traditional public schools.


New documents discovered on the U.S. Department of Education's website reveal that KIPP has claimed that information about its revenues and other significant matters is "proprietary" and should be redacted from materials it provides to that agency to justify the expenditure of federal tax dollars, before its application is made publicly available.


So what does a so-called public school like KIPP want to keep the public from knowing?"...


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Additional downloads/links available at:
KIPP redactions
KIPP redaction list
KIPP 2013 990
KIPP 2012 990


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