I don’t ordinarily venture into education issues but the charter school situation in Ohio has now attracted ProPublica’s attention, so hopefully it will (eventually) be national news, and you-all will have a head start.
First, the excellent ProPublica piece:
Since 2008, an Ohio-based company, White Hat Management, has collected around $230 million to run charter schools in that state. The company has grown into a national chain and reports that it has about 20,000 students across the country. But now 10 of its own schools and the state of Ohio are suing, complaining that many White Hat students are failing, and that the company has refused to account for how it has spent the money. The dispute between White Hat and Ohio, which is unfolding in state court in Franklin County, provides a glimpse at a larger trend: the growing role of private management companies in publicly funded charter schools.
Government data suggest that schools with for-profit managers have somewhat worse academic results than charters without management companies, and a number of boards have clashed with managers over a lack of transparency in how they are using public funds.
Naturally, given this new information, Ohio Republicans are reducing oversight of Ohio charter schools. Here’s the proposed changes to state law from the GOP majority in the Ohio statehouse:
Empowers for-profit corporations to start up and run charter schools – without the oversight of a sponsor, which is required for all charter schools now.
Permits a charter school’s board to give up all its rights and responsibilities to a for-profit or nonprofit operator, who would employ the teachers and other staffers.
This change is important, because this is the current state of Ohio law on charter schools:
“Public bodies cannot delegate the authority to make discretionary decisions without statutory authorization, community schools are public bodies, their discretionary decisions are to be made by their governing authorities, and no statute authorizes the delegation of that authority,”
But, it gets worse:
Provides that once taxpayer money is given to a charter school operator, it is no longer considered public money and anything the operator buys with it becomes the operator’s property.
Wow. Just wow. That’s some deal. Public funds purchase property, but private for-profit entity then magically becomes sole owner.
Do people know that for-profit management companies are running “public” charter schools? Do people know that conservatives in Ohio are seeking statutory authority to convert public funds that go to charter schools into the private property of for-profit entities like White Hat Management? You know, considering that we just came off another media-promoted blitz of public school/public employee bashing, it’s interesting that no one was looking into for-profit charter school operators, particularly since there is a live lawsuit in Ohio, right now, on this issue.
I just scanned that article but it does not seem to mention that Brennan has long had close ties to the Republican Party.
Is anybody surprised? Sigh…
He’s a huge donor. It just kills me that they’re extending these rip-off for-profits to little kids. It is bad enough to see people coming in here with 20k in debt they can’t discharge in bankruptcy as a result of “attending” an on-line for-profit college and getting a degree there’s not a chance in hell they can use here. Now we’re going to turn a profit off of second graders? Wonderful.
Far too many adults in this era are more ignorant and fairytale believing nimrods than respectable thinking adults.
I want to puke every time read or head, “but privatization would be better.” It’s not better if you have less control and accountability. This whole sick love affair with executives that pound people in the face and conservatives asking for more pounding is disgusting.
The Republicans are making great strides in reducing corporate crime. Unfortunately, the reductions are entirely a result of the legalization of theft.
If you want more info on Brennan’s tie to the GOP, here’s Plunderbund.
They follow White Hat/GOP ties.
Commenter JenJen directed me there.
So if the school is failing and the parents decide that the management company is to blame, if they fire the management company, they must also immediately come up with funds to pay the management company back for misrunning the school? So how is this an improvement over having a teacher union that “can’t be fired”?
Great post Kay! That this is not plastered over the front pages of newspapers everywhere is a disgrace.
The Snarxist Formerly Known as Kryptik
Which is especially galling when they claim that private entities and companies are inherently more accountable than gov’t, all the while pushing for laws and policies that would continue to make them even less accountable and more opaque than ever.
Donate to ProPublica. It’s a good investment:)
Is there ANYTHING that outrages Ohio voters anymore? If Ohio GOP ran on platform of mass suicide, they’d get their usual 52% of the vote.
I saw that. Here is his page at his law firm. What a dork.
I interviewed there years ago but do not think I met with him.
That’s what White Hat is claiming ion the lawsuit.
Ohio jumped in to enforce this:
But the AG that jumped in lost last November, and now the GOP statehouse are trying to change that law he (was) enforcing.
Ugh. They’re just shameless. “White Hat”. The good guys.
How much is he, personally, making off these deals?
PS, note that George Voinovich’s kid works there. I met him years ago and if there was someone who just didn’t seem like a corporate attorney it was him. Long hair (at the time) and chain smoking.
There’s a pretty interesting economic cycle that has developed between the public and private school systems. The presence of private K-12 schools has given rise to the zero tolerance policies found in public schools. When a student is expelled from the public school for having an advil in their bra, their only recourse (because they are still mandated by the state to attend school) is to have mom and day send them to a private school.
This has basically been the lifeline the private schools, particularly Catholic and other church sponsored schools which had been seeing lagging enrollment. The privates push the community for zero tolerance policies, which then turns into a de-facto subsidy for the privates because of the state mandate on attendance.
So, nothing shocking there. But what’s most interesting to me is that the privates continue to be held up as the elite institutions, when they’re increasingly filled with students that have been expelled from public schools. Some of these for complete bullshit reasons, but most for actual reasons – fighting, weapons, drugs, etc. They may not rise to the level that they deserved expulsion, but statistically speaking, that population is not going to be the most academically rigorous. Instead what’s happening is that the privates are stratifying themselves based on cost. The middle class parents of the kids who brought a knife to school are going to go with the cheapest private school, and end up filling the lower tier institutions – the very ones that the GOP are pimping as the solution to the public schools.
What’s going to bite them in the ass on this is that even if the privates are being run better than the publics, with better teachers and all of that, their culture war policies and shifting of the tax base toward for-profit institutions is creating a dynamic whereby the student cross-section is so much different than the public, that it’s almost guaranteed to perform worse.
Mr. Long Form
Indiana is learning this great lesson from Ohio by rushing to imitate their market-driven solutions as fast as possible. My own city (South Bend) has some troubled schools, no funding for just about anything, a dysfunctional school board including a rotating superintendent position, but all of that will soon be cured when they hand over everything to “entrepreneurs” who will have 5 years of completely un-overseen control over the schools before anyone has a chance to assess their success. That should give them plenty of time to take all that taxpayer funding and buy retreats in the Caribbean.
@kay: Absolutely. I personally know two of their reporters – family friends that got hired away from major papers. They LOVE it there – they love being able to do real investigation that takes more than 4 hours.
Why stop at just giving them all the property? Why don’t they get to keep the students too? Seems like they should have a right to garnish the future wages of the students to recoup the investment they made in teaching the little rug rats how to read. It’s only fair.
You can’t tell. I just had a great time working with an Indiana lawyer who is a born-again, vocal, Christian. I usually work alone, but there were Indiana issues so I got him for advice. He was completely contrary to “type”, or my stereotype, actually. I had to get used to him praying before pre-trials, and he converses almost exclusively in snippets from classic pop songs, but he was great, over-all.
I’m going to be more open-minded, here shortly:)
Because it makes a profit for a corporation, which makes Baby Jeebus smile. Duh.
From the ProPublica article:
So here’s the best-case scenario, under this arrangement: Kids learn fantastically well (which they actually don’t under White Hat management, but leave that aside), and yet we can’t replicate it because the company considers the success a trade secret. Pure stupidity.
I suppose it is curious to some how education outcomes evolve when the focus shifts from “for education” to “for profit”, but I’m not sure why it would be hard to understand.
For the electorate and for the parents of those impacted by these outcome changes it is obvious to some of us what is going on, and it is a pity so many seem to be oblivious.
Meh. Wouldn’t bother me too much.
But that would drive me up the frickin’ wall. Props to your forbearance!
It was already happening here, with on-line high schools. Parents here pull the kids out of public school and purchase a packet so they can “home school”. The kids themselves tell me it’s a joke. They do 40 minutes a day and then play video games, because their parents are working, and no one is watching.
The difference is, it’s their money. This is public money.
I thought it was clever. He knows whole songs. One for every situation. But, I’m easily amused. I’m the best straight man on the face of the planet.
Maybe those charter schools should start providing women’s health services with their “no longer public” money?
Good catch. FUNGIBLE!
Oh, we can work with this.
Felanius Kootea (formerly Salt and freshly ground black people)
It seems to me that if Republicans are making the case that private management is always better, they should have to back it up with actual data.
This report is pretty outrageous – Kay I’m glad you’re helping to put a spotlight on the many damaging effects produced when we have government by ideology with no burden of proof required.
If Ohio would at least perform a side by side comparison of graduation rates, reading, writing and arithmetic proficiency, etc., across the regular public schools and the charters, then parents would begin to understand the problem and we could have a meaningful debate. Which is probably why it won’t happen until people agitate for it.
Jesus. The biggest federal user of contractors is, of course, the DoD. Not in a million years would they let a contractor, regardless of size or bribes paid, get away with shit like this.
And by “shit like this”, I mean “legalized theft”.
It’s the money. It’s all about the money. And many democrats are on the wrong side of this issue, too, rewarding their patrons with management contracts.
This era of skimming in America is a terrible development.
@Felanius Kootea (formerly Salt and freshly ground black people): I understand that WI is trying to end testing for charter schools ‘cuz they ain’t doing as well as conservatives expect. There’s your free market in education!
fascinating. perhaps someone should add to the Muckety links about Brennan.
@RSR: Links, please.
And I assume the “goal” or endpoint (besides lining their pockets) is to graduate a ton of under-educated kids who will forever fill the ranks of low-info voters. There we go, Republicans everywhere forever.
Hmmm, wonder how all of this fits with all of Jan Brewer’s turning the corrections in her state over to private entities.
Ah yes, children and prisoners, the only two classes of people who are legally mandated to be in a certain place at a certain time. And now with this new approach, a subset poorly educated kiddos will probably end up in jail. It all seems so tidy..
I would like a federal law that says we stop treating young minds as analogous to fucking soda pop. geez.
There are good ways to allow public school systems to include charters, and then there are truly obscenely bad ways to include charters. Ohio’s current law is weak and dangerous enough already in my opinion; the proposed law is corrupt and dangerous.
As I’ve mentioned before I’m a DC Charter School parent. DC Charters are publicly accountable, and the money Charters get is considered PUBLIC money. That’s probably why we haven’t been overrun by “corporate” schools. The thing I fear is a Republican Congress unilaterally deciding to force this type of OH debacle onto DC. Here’s hoping the OH proposals don’t pass.
This terrifies me. I can stomach the for-profit rip-offs of adult students, but a fake-public school with a completely non-transparent structure re: kids is just a recipe for disaster. How many parents look into the organizational details of any charter school? 1%?
Ohio doesn’t even call them “charter schools”. That would be too straight-forward. They call them “community schools” which has a nice, local, homey and non-profit parent-run sound, now doesn’t it?
You want charter school shenanigans? Check out Philadelphia. Here in Philly we’ve had a State Rep. hold a secret meeting with a School Board member and a proposed charter school company to strong arm them into backing out so the charter co. favored and supported by the Rep. could remain in charge of the school (it worked). And, the School Board member is the Chairman and used to work for a law firm that…you guessed it!…represented the co. favored by the State Rep.
Then there’s the charter school co. formed by Kenny Gamble (of Gamble & Huff fame) which has also been taking over schools thanks to help from the same Chairman (despite his conflict of interest). One school was given to Gamble’s company despite the fact that a teacher had alleged that test scores show the school has been improving (that teacher was then “silence” and terminated for speaking out, and despite the fact that the charter company’s track record is spotty.
This absolutely should be a national story. It goes beyond just the intersection of private for-profit corporations and public eduction, but also corruption in local and state politics.
@kay: gack, yes. it’s funny how much people who clamor for “local control” will give it up for out-of-town profiteers. Well, it’s not funny. It’s just sick.
I was discussing with a colleague today the transition from education as training citizens to training workers – and it’s a joke. I hope all these fuckers get their just rewards.
Ohio went right to the constitutional wall on public funding for religious schools, and the whole country followed. Sadly, we seem to be patient zero for this sort of thing.
Just Some Fuckhead
Don’t do it, kay. For every one of him, there are 100 of them that talk in special Jesus code that involves adding the word “ship” on to ordinary words and abundant overuse of any form of the word “bless.”
The money is going to rich Republican donors rather than union thugs. SATSQ.
@Felanius Kootea (formerly Salt and freshly ground black people):
This is a key issue. School privatizers/privateers are always going on about school choice and people being given the opportunity to act as informed “consumers”. (I hate that word, especially in connection with education.) But Republicans are always trying to stack the books against the “informed” part of that phrase. How can people make a good choice if the school provider is hiding relevant information?
here’s a very recent example of graft/corruption/patronage on the Democratic side here in Philadelphia (of course, graft, corruption and patronage are old hat here)–
This is a very blatant example, but there are others I’ll have to dig up.
Beyond the specific examples are the overall policy from SecEd on down of transforming our public school system into one which rewards private operators and consultants for inserting themselves in the process. (see also former Mayor of DC)
here are some resources on the ed reform debate that I follow
(there are many more out there, but I’ve got to run now)
@Muley Graves: I posted a reply with some links, but it’s in moderation.
let’s see if just one link will get through:
I think there’s a role for charter schools in education; I know a number of parents whose kids have gotten the small class size or extra attention they need in a charter school (at the expense of a lot of specials programs like art and music, but if you can’t afford a private school or tutoring and your kid just isn’t going to be on grade level without individualized attention, that may be the kind of choice you make.) But I don’t even understand why a for-profit company would be granted a charter. As far as I’m concerned, the first thing you should have to demonstrate to get a charter is that you are spending 100% of those public funds on that school and the folks within it.
@Martin: Don’t mix the charters with the parochial schools in your comparison. I think the quality of the public schools has a lot to do with whether or not the private schools are sustainable. I have lived in an area with excellent public schools, where the private school population was evenly divided between the students whose parents wanted a religious education (but not homeschooling), the students whose parents wanted more influence on what was going on in the school (and hence enhancing the cachet of the private school), and the kids who were kicked out of public school for discipline issues. The disclipine cases were without exception on a separate track with a “conduct contract” that allowed the private school to kick the student out – sort of a one-strike rule. So the private schools had to maintain equivalent or higher standards than the public schools, because otherwise their only student population would have been disciplinary cases, which is not a big enough segment of the population to be sustainable. The issue with charter schools vs. parochial schools and other types of private schools is that the charter schools don’t have as much latitude to kick students out as parochial schools and nondenominational private schools do, so your scenario is more true for charters than for the others.
I have also lived in an area with horrible public schools. Parents were standing in line the day before registration opened in the hopes of getting their kids into the private schools. The private schools could be quite choosy about their student body, and were. The charter schools got the students whose parents gave a damn but couldn’t get them into the private schools. So in that case, the private schools were miles better than the public schools and were quicker to eliminate students who had discipline issues. So again, your description works better for charters as opposed to privates. Maybe in areas where the schools are more middle-of-the road your scenario would be a better fit, though.
@Original Lee: OK, here is the point where I disagree with the parochial school line. You are playing a private school bullshit line where – because you are toeing the nunnery line – you are somehow exempt from the same class warfare everyone else is. Hint: it’s bullshit. the nuns pulled ppl who could pay. I don’t care if they can pay. everyone deserves a first-class education – regardless, and they shouldn’t have religious bullshit shoved down their throats. if you don’t like it, fuck off. really.
And, Original, fuck you too – we have public fucking schools. deal with it and run for school board (unpaid, btw – i know, i’ve done enough reporting on it). The point is kids don’t get to make a call. and if you, or anyone else wants to play some bullshit private card, i hate your asses, and I will bury you forever. so there. Free market. My ass.
@jibeaux: But if there is no profit motive then no one will innovate for results of awesome! Greed is the only thing that leads to innovation. If we cannot let people suck all the money out of education, then they will never find innovative ways to educate with less overhead!
/Free Market True Believer
IMO, at least three things that shouldn’t be for-profit operations: schools, prisons and hospitals. Ohio has all three.
The Akron Beacon Journal did great exposes on White Hat 10 years ago. And nothing has changed. Unfortunately ProPublica’s exposes won’t change anything either.
I am one of these students that this school had stole Pell grants from as well as other issues! I have the proof and have confronted them everyday till this day…and they still push me away! These links show you what is really going on! Stop this from happening any longer! I signed the petition “STOP KAPLAN UNIVERSITY!”. Now… I’m asking you to sign this petition to help us reach our goal of 5,000 signatures. I care deeply about this cause, and I hope you will support our efforts.