Thursday, September 29, 2011

Follow the money in school privatization: Charter Schools and the New Markets Tax Credit

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Charter School Bill Relaxes Accountability; Removes Local Control

Education Law Center's Education Index, September 2011
Senate Bill 904, a new charter school bill before the General Assembly, would repeal Pennsylvania's current charter school/cyber charter school law in its entirety, and replace it with new legislation that would allow for unchecked expansion of charter schools.
The new legislation raises significant concerns because of its potentially negative impact on students, accountability, and transparency. There are serious questions about many aspects of the bill, including the removal of local control over charters and the redirection of millions of dollars in public funding away from neighborhood public schools. 

When It Comes To Vouchers This Is Worth Saying Again
City School Stories Blog by Frank Murphy September 27, 2011
Vouchers Are Not an Economic Bill of Rights for the Disadvantaged
The Senate bill that Piccola and Williams propose will benefit a relatively small group of poor students in our state.  And these students would benefit only after the school to which they apply decides whether or not to admit them.   The money to fund this proposal will be taken from the budgets of local school districts.   To pursue the enactment of a law that will privilege a handful of citizens at the expense of the many is by no means an attempt to fairly assure the civil rights of the people.
In our society, choice is not just about the ability of a person to exercise individual freedom. We are a nation of the people for the people.  In our democracy, choice is a right that should be exercised in a manner that accounts for the good of others and is consistent with the democratic principles upon which our nation was founded.

Follow the money in school privatization: Charter Schools and the New Markets Tax Credit

August 16, 2011 by indystar
In a May 7 New York Daily News Column Juan Gonzalez explained how the New Markets Tax Credit Program (NMTC Program) established by Congress in 2000 to spur new or increased investments into operating businesses and real estate projects in economically depressed communities is being used by banks and private equity firms to make large sums of money by creating charter schools. The New Markets Tax Credit provides a 39 percent tax credit over a seven-year period, which Gonzalez contends results in investors being able to nearly double their investment during that period. Hedge fund managers have spent millions of dollars on promoting charter schools. The intent of these managers is to make money, not improve the plight of children. It has been reported that some private companies establish a nonprofit school then use a for-profit affiliate to buy school buildings and charge the school rent, which is a substantial portion of the school's overall budget. Profit then is made at the expense of students and teachers.

PA House Labor Committee to Consider Prevailing Wage Bills Next Monday
Just a heads-up on these – more info as we get it.

Posted at 04:00 AM ET, 09/29/2011

A vision for public education

Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog By Valerie Strauss
This was written by David Johnson, president of the Georgia School Boards Association and vice chair of the Floyd County Schools in Rome, Ga.
By David Johnson
When I hear pundits – from both political parties these days – talk about improving education for children through choice, vouchers or whatever the sound bite of the day is, I wonder which children they are talking about. Out of 55.2 million K-12 students in America, 49.2 million of them are in our public schools. Only a small percentage of children go to private or parochial schools. So where's the vision for our public schools? What are they looking at?
To get out of the weeds and back onto productive ground, school board members, and school superintendents in Georgia have been working together for three years on a vision for public education. Instead of picking apart the system and deciding on where or on whom to lay blame, we now have a vision that looks at the entire system of public education in our state and how to move it forward. It's proactive, productive, and positive.

Big test score gains at Philly Renaissance charters
The Notebook by Benjamin Herold on Sep 27 2011 
Philadelphia's new "Renaissance" turnaround operators are reporting big gains on the 2011 PSSA exams at the seven long-struggling public schools they converted to charters last year.
All the converted schools saw improvements in both reading and math scores. Six of the seven saw double-digit gains in math.

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