The GOP’s Biggest Charter School Experiment Just Imploded
Mother Jones tells the story here in graphic detail.
The GOP’s Biggest Charter School Experiment Just Imploded
How a washed-up lobbyist built a charter school empire and siphoned millions from public schools.
“Now, with ECOT imploding, some state politicians have floated the idea that Lager, who has made millions in profits off the school and come a long way from the Waffle House, should be personally held responsible for paying back some of the $80 million owed to the state. But while the coming days will reveal if the political will or mechanisms exist to make this happen, it’s unclear how he might ever be held accountable—because the real scandal is that ECOT grew up legally, with the support of state politicians and national GOP power brokers, and that in many ways it has served as a model for schools like it across the country. Now, the same districts ECOT pulled its funds from are scrambling to find a way to take in its former students, and Ohio is facing a reckoning, after nearly two decades when the state became one of the country’s freest laboratories for pro-charter policies. “Why did it take a generation and a half of kids to go through this crappy system for us to do something about it,” Stephen Dyer, a former Ohio state representative asked me in exasperation in December. “The reason is because a lot of money came in.”
Living in Betsy DeVos’s state of Michigan, we have seen the rush to charter schools. Some work and many do not. ECOT was a decade ahead of Michigan. I suspect we will see many more failures of privatization.
The administrative issues here seem to not be uncommon. The charter in my town (in MA) sent out letters saying they were freezing enrollment from two of the towns in their region because they had been over-enrolling, not clear to me if they had some sort of oral promise or if they were just not aware what the cap was for each town.
Here, the school didn’t get paid for students over their cap (which is why they were freezing enrollment pending revised agreements).
The real controversy here should be about why a school that apparently wasn’t delivering any kind of quality results, and apparently was squirreling a lot of it’s revenues (apparently a substantial portion for ineligible students, ineligible because they didn’t deliver enough online classroom hours of education) away in related companies was allowed to keep operating for a decade after these problems were already apparent.
No donor left behind.
Long, but the evidence keeps mounting up: you get what you pay for (with union teachers).
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Did Chicago public school teachers crack the ghetto code?!
Chicago public schools may have uniquely cracked what I call the ghetto code: that ghetto schools fail because students (and teachers!) don’t seen anything remunerative enough waiting for them in the labor market post graduation to make it worth putting out the extra effort. This down and discouraged vicious circle was revealed by Berkeley political scientist Martín Sánchez-Jankowski in his book Cracks in the Pavement. The professor spent nine years on the ground in five NYC and LA impoverished neighborhoods. He spent the previous ten years with street gangs.
“U.S. News and World Report just released its annual rankings of the nation’s best high schools: Six of the top 10 in Illinois are in CPS and another three in the top 20.”
“ … from 2003 to 2013 and found Chicago students grew 11 points on the 8th grade math test and 7 points on the 4th grade reading test. The state grew just 7 points and 3 points, respectively.”
“ … between 2006 and 2014, the percentage of CPS students earning a bachelor’s degree within 6 years of high school graduation jumped from 8 percent to 14 percent. The national rate is 18 percent. … They found that Latino students enrolled in CPS are more likely to graduate high school than their counterparts in many suburban districts, including Maine Township High Schools and Evanston Township High School.”
Headline: High-Poverty, All-Black School Beats Odds, Earns Top CPS Ranking
CHATHAM — Students and parents from Arthur Dixon Elementary school said they were ecstatic this week to learn their school had earned the highest ranking on the 2015 CPS School Quality Rating Report for the first time.
“Salary figures provided by the Chicago Public Schools show teachers here have the highest average salary of any city in the nation. But, according to the Chicago Teachers Union’s calculations, Chicago teachers would rank second behind New York City.”
On Wisconsin; to nearby states with your children where they can still get a first-class education without you reaching into your pockets to waste 300 million tax payer dollars.
ADDENDUM — AH-EMDUM 🙂
“Chicago’s progress is extraordinary. A 30 percent gain in graduation rates in 15 years is almost unimaginable, but it happened.”
“In the Chicago Public Schools system, enrollment has been declining, the budget is seldom enough, and three in four children come from low-income homes, a profile that would seemingly consign the district to low expectations. But students here appear to be learning faster than those in almost every other school system in the country, according to new data from researchers at Stanford.”
More doctorates have come out of Lane Tech than any other high school in the nation.
MJ is far behind the (NY) times in reporting Lager’s Ohio ECOT charter school since NYT’s first reporting in May 2016. MJ’s disingenuous title “The GOP’s Biggest Charter School experiment… with the subtitle: “How a washed-up lobbyist built a charter school empire and siphoned millions from public schools,” claiming in its title ‘The GOP’ ownership of Lager’s rip-off scheme. If MJ performed due diligence, they’d ask how Lager was able to bilk Ohio millions of education dollars through his private charter school operation. Simply, Lager’s financial boondoggle ECOT became operational in 2000 and made possible with a little understood policy that paved the way in the explosion of charter schools, The New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC). The policy enacted in 2000 at the end of President Bill Clinton’s administration. According to the Treasury Department, the credit combines:
…the private sector and the federal government—to bring economic and community development to low-income communities. From job creation to increased access to essential educational, health, and retail services, and from the rehabilitation of blighted communities to the development of renewable energy sources, NMTC projects have benefited neighborhoods throughout the country.
NMTC provides investors with a 39 percent tax credit that more than doubles returns on these investments within just seven years.. is a tax credit on money that they’re lending, so they’re collecting interest on the loans, as well as getting the 39 percent tax credit.” And that’s not all, the federal government “piggyback[s] the tax credit on other kinds of federal tax credits, like historic preservation or job creation or Brownfield’s credits. The result is, you can put in $10 million and in seven years double your money.” So, if you put in a couple million dollars, you’ll have double that amount within just seven years according to NY Daily News reporter Juan Gonzalez (per Alternet article: Who Is Profiting From Charters? The Big Bucks Behind Charter School Secrecy, Financial Scandal and Corruption)
The article covers private company ventures with lack of accountability: “Charter schools, unlike most traditional public schools, contract with for-profit companies for everything from curriculum development to construction. It is well-known that charter schools are big business, but it’s harder to pin down concrete numbers. When money leaves a donor’s pocket, it is usually funneled through a CDE, which isn’t required to release information about who its donors are, or how much they’re spending. From there, the CDE donates the money to charter management organizations. The endless cycle of shuffling funds works like money laundering. It functions to hide the original sources of funds. And it’s all legal. Even though most of the details remain hidden, we do know that privatization in education is a lucrative business.”
William Lager was a lobbyist prior to creating his private company, Altair Learning Management Company; and far from what I’d called washed-up; rather, Lager obviously was knowledgeable about Clinton’s NMTC and thus was the front man for his private company ALMC, hiding donors who all won big from the tax write-offs giveaway to Ohio’s public school dollars redirected to a private charter school failure.
In 1947 they began privatizing military arsenals…..
$22T later we lose to al Qaeda and the Taliban.
And we shake in our boots over 1950’s technology missiles that would slice through $400B in star wars.
Time to consider that “things” are not improved by plundering the tax payer.