September 26, 2013


Cyber schools flunk, but tax money keeps flowing. Taxpayers send nearly $2 billion a year to cyber schools that let students from kindergarten through 12th grade receive a free public education entirely online. The schools, many managed by for-profit companies, are great at driving up enrollment with catchy advertising. They excel at lobbying. They have a knack for making generous campaign donations. But as new state report cards coming out now make clear, there’s one thing they’re not so good at: educating kids.  Politico

Heading in reverse: Toll road debt grows to almost $19 million a mile. As the economy continues creeping along in the slow lane, drivers will probably decide against paying the toll.   As a consequence, and somewhat ironically, toll roads and bridges may become even more expensive for travelers in an effort to pay down billions in debt.   Fox News

Toll Roads Rising: Why There Will Be More Tolls Down the Road….. If these trends continue—and there’s not much reason to think they won’t—more of the country could resemble Florida, and not in terms of abundant beaches, oranges, and sunshine, but nearly ubiquitous tolls.  Fox News           

Money for roads harder to find for roads…Rob Puentes, a senior fellow with the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program, said in some cases, state and local communities are also relying on corporate and philanthropic groups to solve traffic problems. Philanthropic groups, for example, helped Detroit develop its M1 rail line, while private equity firms have invested in roads and bridges that benefit the businesses they create. Columbus Dispatch           

Privatizing national lab management misguided – opinion…. A case in point: Several years ago, the U.S. Department of Energy put management of our nuclear weapons research and development labs out for bid. Against the advice of many, DOE awarded the contract for both labs (Lawrence Livermore in the Bay Area and Los Alamos in New Mexico) to a single private partnership comprising the University of California Regents, Bechtel Corp., and other private companies. This created the Holy Grail of unaccountable profiteering: Not just a for-profit monopoly, but a taxpayer-funded for-profit monopoly. San Francisco Chronicle

Does Privatization of Federal Employee Background Checks Lead to More Security Breaches? In the wake of the Washington Navy Yard shooting, the question of who performed the background check on shooter Aaron Alexis—a sub-contractor who had security clearance to perform IT work for the U.S. Navy—has given rise to a larger debate over whether such work should be contracted out to private firms. Alexis was given access to federal naval shipyards by USIS, a private company paid by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to carry out background checks on contractors.  AllGov

MI: Could Privatizing Prison Food Services Cause Backlash Behind Bars? The group that represents Michigan’s corrections officers says it worries that privatizing food services in Michigan prisons could pose huge safety risks. “You don’t mess with a prisoner’s food,” says Mel Grieshaber, executive director for the Michigan Corrections Organization. “It creates a terrible situation whenever anything is done with the food items of a prisoner, and if there’s trouble because of that food, the preparation or how it’s handled, it’s the correctional officers that have to go in there and handle the situation.”  WLNS

TX: 5 Texas charter school proposals contain striking similarities. Texas has more than 200 approved charter school operators. A new state law will allow the number to grow in the coming years…..The intention is to allow charters to be more innovative than regular public schools.That makes copying by would-be charter operators troubling, said Daniel Martin, a management professor at California State University-East Bay who has studied plagiarism. A good charter school proposal should reflect the unique needs and culture of a particular community, Martin said. “This is where the innovation is supposed to be,” Martin said. “This is not where you want to see plagiarism.”  Dallas Morning News