February 1, 2013


Skeptics: Profit and education don’t mix

Charter schools of all types continue to spread rapidly. But schools managed by for-profit companies make up a smaller share than they did just a few years ago. The number of for-profit companies has declined modestly, and the number of schools they operate has hit a plateau, said Gary Miron, a professor of education at Western Michigan University who studies charter schools. (At the same time, some of the schools’ enrollment continues to increase, Miron said, and the number of virtual schools is exploding.) Education leaders say there are two main reasons for the increased wariness toward for-profit operators: philosophical objections to mixing public education and profit, particularly in low-income communities, and mounting skepticism over their record in some cities and states. NBCNews.com(blog)

NJ: Christie Pushes Private Lottery as Bidder Misses Targets

Governor Chris Christie says turning over New Jersey’s lottery to a private manager would boost sales, even though there’s scant evidence to support his position. The Republican is reviewing the one bid his administration received from a group that includes Gtech Corp., a company that helps run the lottery in Illinois, where revenue has missed goals. Though New Jersey had a record $2.7 billion in lottery sales in fiscal 2012, Christie says a private company can do better.  Bloomberg

IL: Sen. Durbin wants cash payback before privatizing Midway

Not so fast, Sen. Dick Durbin cautioned federal regulators who have final say on whether Midway International Airport should be privatized. The city of Chicago is studying whether to lease Midway on a long-term basis as part of a privatization pilot program run by the Federal Aviation Administration. Durbin pointed out that federal tax dollars revitalized Midway. “The $378 million invested in Midway helped rebuild runways, taxiways and a new terminal,” he told U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood in a letter…. “The federal taxpayer should have a seat at the table during negotiations,” Durbin noted. Those tax dollars should be repaid, he added, and used for projects such as modernizing O’Hare International Airport. Daily Herald

FL: Editorial: Work-release shows perils of privatization

It should not have taken the murders of two men and the rape of a teenage girl for the Florida Department of Corrections to realize that something was wrong at the privatized Largo Residential Re-Entry Center — the largest work-release program in the state. Now state officials are pledging reforms there and the operator, Goodwill Industries, appears to be responding. But the evidence of lax state oversight should give pause to the continued campaign in Tallahassee to privatize more of the state’s corrections services. Tampa Bay Times

TxDOT Considers Outsourcing IT

TxDOT Executive Director Phil Wilson sent an email to TxDOT employees Thursday notifying staff that the agency had requested proposals from private firms to improve the agencies’ IT function….While informing TxDOT staff that the agency may outsource some or all of its IT functions in the near future, Wilson also said the agency’s current IT department has the chance to fight for its own survival. Texas Tribune

PA: Corbett makes his case for privatizing the LCB

Pressing his campaign to privatize Pennsylvania liquor sales, Gov. Corbett borrowed a staff member’s smartphone at a Philadelphia news conference to show a photograph and drive home a point.” ‘Welcome, visitors. Sorry, no beer. We sell only wine and spirits. Beer is sold four lights up at 12th and Walnut Streets,’ ” he said, reading from the photo of a sign posted at a state liquor store in Center City. “That speaks to what we are talking about,” the governor said. The point of his plan, he said, is consumer choice and convenience.  Philadelphia Inquirer

VA:  Commentary: Falls Church Should Not Privatize City Government Buildings

These “public-private” arrangements are often sold to cash strapped and credit starved communities because the private “partner” can show a short term financial benefit either in terms of a new facility, new services, or even a lump sum cash payment. Over the life of the project however the cost is substantially higher using this privatization arrangement instead of traditional financing mechanisms. That is because the City can borrow money more cheaply than the private developer and does not have to fund a profit line. The excessive cost of the privatization approach is most dramatic when one considers that the City could be in a decades-long lease and thus paying rent long after any public debt would have been paid off had the City used traditional financing. Having to make these long-term (and generally increasing) rent payments will drain the money that our City will need to educate future generations of Falls Church children.  Falls Church News Press