Archive for Education
In government, if I help myself to taxpayer dollars, we call that embezzlement and I go to jail. In the private sector, if I help myself to taxpayer dollars, we call that innovation and I get hailed as a visionary exponent of public-private partnership. That’s the lesson of a Nov. 17 investigation by Anne Ryman of the Arizona Republic into the state’s charter schools.
In her examination of Arizona’s 50 largest nonprofit charter schools and all of Arizona’s nonprofit charter schools with assets exceeding $10 million, Ryman found “at least 17 contracts or arrangements, totaling more than $70 million over five years and involving about 40 school sites, in which money from the non-profit charter school went to for-profit or non-profit companies run by board members, executives or their relatives.” That says to me that in Arizona, at least, charter-school corruption isn’t the exception. It’s the rule. And that’s just in the nonprofit charter schools. Documentation for the for-profit schools is not publicly available. What are the odds that charter-school proprietors operating in the dark are less inclined to enrich themselves at public expense?
More at New Republic.
One of these days people will wake up to this scam.
This just landed in my inbox. If you’re interested in learning more, then head out to Biltmore Park Thursday morning.
Word on the street is that there’s a website release on the way Now updated with website:
Politicians Gain, Schools Lose Tour comes to Asheville
Rep. Tim Moffitt voted for a tax loophole for wealthy lawyers, lobbyists and millionaires that cost the state $336 million a year, while cutting public education to the bone. Did Rep. Moffitt profit from the loophole?
Progress NC Action wants answers. The “Politicians Gain, Schools Lose Tour” is promoting a petition calling on Rep. Moffitt to come clean and pledge to end the loophole. You can find the petition at www.MoffittGainsSchoolsLose.com.
WHO: Progress North Carolina Action
WHAT: Politicians Gain, Schools Lose Tour, including appropriate visuals, handouts and speeches
WHEN: Thursday, Sept. 27, 9am
WHERE: Biltmore Park Town Square
Near the REI and YMCA
1 Town Square Blvd.
Asheville, NC 28803
So here’s how this works. I have a press credential that gets me some places but not others. In order to get down to the floor where the delegates are, I have to trade my credential for a floor pass. From the moment I receive that pass, I have twenty minutes to go to the floor, do my thing, and get back. Tardiness can result in losing credentials the next day. It’s a system that allows lots of different folks to get onto the floor, but it’s not much time.
In an effort to capture a bit of the flavor of the convention floor (tastes like freedom!) as well as offering some personalities and issues, I asked several delegates one simple question. What is the most important issue to you in this election year? Follow after the jump to hear four of our North Carolina delegates answer that question.
I grew up thinking that education was its own reward. In college, I studied, philosophy, art, drama and science. Yeah, I waited tables and traveled for awhile. After college, I was appalled at the attitude of many customers. They’d ask if I was in college. No, I told them, I’d graduated. Next question: What was your major?
When I told them, their eyes went blank. “But what are you going to do with it,” they’d ask. You could see the gears going round in their heads. How did that (a philosophy degree) translate into *that* as they mentally rubbed their finger$$ together.
It just has to be the Texas GOP: No More Critical Thinking in Schools:
Teachers, you may want to be sitting down for this one.
The 2012 Texas Republican Party Platform, adopted June 9 at the state convention in Forth Worth, seems to take a stand against, well, the teaching of critical thinking skills. Read it for yourself:
We oppose the teaching of Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) (values clarification), critical thinking skills and similar programs that are simply a relabeling of Outcome-Based Education (OBE) (mastery learning) which focus on behavior modification and have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority.
As a top commenter on a Reddit thread wrote about the language, “I was absolutely sure this had to be an elaborate fake … .” It’s not.
Demon of Critical Thinking, Come Out and BE GONE!
Republican Party of Texas (RPT) Communications Director Chris Elam told Talking Points Memo the economical “critical thinking” verbiage should not have been in the final platform draft, saying, “I think the intent is that the Republican Party is opposed to the values clarification method that serves the purpose of challenging students beliefs and undermine parental authority.”
That euphemism is a mouthful. (Eat your heart out, John Kerry.)
Texas Republicans want the Real ID Act repealed, Voter ID enforced, Motor Voter laws repealed, and for Texans to have to re-register to vote every four years. They also want the Voting Rights Act repealed, the EPA abolished, and specifically oppose the fairness doctrine that, their platform observes, was “terminated” 25 years ago.
What about it, North Carolina? Speaker Tillis? Senator Phil Berger? Are you going to let those Texans make you look like girly men?
Is this the same Sen. Kay Hagan who championed another repatriation tax holiday? Hagan is sponsoring a bill to restrict for-profit career schools from using federal student loan dollars to pay for marketing, advertising and recruiting. A 2009 Senate investigation found that 86 percent of revenues received by for-profit schools came from the federal student loan programs. They spent 23 percent on advertising. The Winston-Salem Journal quotes Hagan:
“I’m particularly troubled by the tactics some for-profit colleges have employed in targeting active-duty servicemen and women and their spouses,” Hagan said in a prepared statement. She criticized some for-profit colleges for using “taxpayer dollars to fund aggressive and often misleading recruiting practices.”
Writes Andrew Leonard in Salon, the Hagan bill “would cut for-profit schools off at their knees.” Hagan, a member of the Senate Health, Education and Labor and Pension Committee, cited one such school with 1,700 recruiters and just a single job counselor. Leonard continues,
A little follow-up research reveals that school to be Bridgepoint Inc., a relatively recent, but very fast-growing entry into the for-profit sector. According to HELP committee analysis of data provided by Bridgepoint, as of March 2011, Bridgepoint employed 1,703 recruitment sales staff, and only one job placement counselor. Bridgepoint spends 30 percent of its revenue on marketing and recruitment. (The Chronicle of Higher Education reported in February that Bridgepoint did not contest the numbers in a press release.)
The two-year schools sport an 84 percent
graduation withdrawal rate.
Holy waste, fraud and abuse. Nice going, Senator. FIRE next, please.
Welcome to the United States of Scam-erica. Or Griftopia, as Matt Taibbi calls it in his book on the Wall Street meltdown. “There are really two Americas,” Taibbi writes. For the grifter class, government is “a tool for making money,” while “in everybody-else land, the government is something to be avoided.”
Not anymore. Here is the lesson Americans gleaned from the financial meltdown on and bailout of Wall Street: If the feds won’t prosecute ‘em, join ‘em. Corruption has trickled down.
Now the government haters have their hands out, too. One Georgia Christian school, for example, instructs parents in how to use a state scholarship program to launder their taxable income and turn it into tax-free tuition money. Georgia’s private school scholarship program launched in 2010 diverts about $50 million a year from state school budgets by giving “dollar-for-dollar tax credits” of up to $2,500 a couple for donations to nonprofit scholarship organizations that help needy students access private schools. As the New York Times reports:
That was the idea, at least. But parents meeting at Gwinnett Christian Academy got a completely different story last year … A handout circulated at the meeting instructed families to donate, qualify for a tax credit and then apply for a scholarship for their own children, many of whom were already attending the school.
Thanks to all of the Buncombe County Commissioners for making sure Asheville City Schools’ students have good facilities.
This radio interview with North Carolina state Rep. Rick Glazier last week has stayed with me. Glazier and state Rep. Ray Rapp were reacting to the Republican handling of education after gaining control of the North Carolina legislature in January 2011. Glazier explained it with this story:
Sort of mind-boggling. Maybe an opening script at the beginning of this session was a precursor to what happened.
There was a Republican legislator who has been there several terms … she had a question early on, because Representative Rapp and I did chair for four years that appropriations committee, and she said, “How much do we spend on financial aid for needs-based kids going to college in North Carolina?”
I think my answer at the time we were looking at it was somewhere around $175-$200 million dollars was need-based. And she said, “Well, I don’t understand why we spend any.”