December 17, 2013


TX: When Public Money, Private Firms Intersect in Schools. Redactions on the publicly available online version of the application often extend for pages at a time. They include sections on the school’s plan to support students’ academic success, its extracurricular activities and the “extent to which any private entity, including any management company” will be involved in the school’s operation. The “shaded material,” according to footnotes, is confidential proprietary or financial information.  Texas Tribune

TX: First foreign-owned toll road hits Dallas. The first foreign-operated toll lanes became fully operational in Dallas over the weekend. Interstate 635 known as the LBJ opened the first 3-mile stretch of the public private partnership toll project to the public on Saturday. The expensive price tag won’t hit commuters immediately, since it opened at a big discount for the first six months as drivers get used to the variable pricing. To use the 3.5-miles of phase one it will cost anywhere from 15 cents up to 95 cents depending on time of day. However, the regular toll rates will cost between 10 cents PER MILE up to 75 PER MILE in peak hours.  San Antonio Express (blog)

DC: Options DC charter school’s Medicaid billing is at center of investigation. Federal investigators are looking into whether former leaders of the District’s Options Public Charter School committed Medicaid fraud by, among other things, exaggerating the needs of its disabled students and paying students with gift cards to ride school buses, according to several people familiar with the criminal investigation.  Washington Post

WI: Bill would allow charter schools to expand free of districts, unions. Wisconsin could see a dramatic rise in the number of charter schools operating outside of districts and without teachers unions, under a new Assembly bill brought by Republicans that would take independent charters statewide. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

WI: UW-Madison alums decry Teach for America’s connections to charter schools. Some former participants — most of whom did not study education formally before participating in Teach for America’s five-week boot camp — have claimed the program failed to sufficiently prepare them for the problems they would encounter in classrooms. Others say the program has betrayed its initial mission, and is now a destabilizing force in public education through ties to charter schools that are publicly funded but privately run. Isthmus Daily Page

ID: Commission approves expansions that could add 990 charter school seats in coming years. The Idaho Public Charter School Commission has approved up to 990 new charter school seats in the state in the coming years, under proposals from three charter school groups. The Spokesman Review

WA: Inslee seeks more mental-health privatization. Washington’s experiment with privatizing the oversight of mental-health treatment could expand from Pierce County to other parts of the state. Bellingham Herald

LA: Audit: No performance review of $363M DHH contract. Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration hasn’t done an independent performance review of its $363 million privatization contract for mental health and addictive disorder treatment services, according to an audit released Monday.  Seattle Post Intelligencer

OR: Liquor Privatization Battle Could Be Headed For Oregon. Oregon voters could have the chance to follow Washington’s lead next year when it comes to liquor sales. A grocery industry group filed a slate of initiatives Monday to end the state monopoly on selling liquor. OPB News

KY: Steve Frank to caution lawmakers against tolls. Covington City Commissioner Steve Frank will speak to lawmakers on Thursday about the dangers of tolling….. Many toll roads have teetered on the edge of bankruptcy as it diverts drivers to other areas, he said. Frank and others in Northern Kentucky fear tolls on the Brent Spence Bridge would divert too much traffic onto the area’s four other bridges. (blog)

NE: Among parking changes, Omaha weighs privatizing meter attendants. A private company could soon be handing out tickets in downtown Omaha, as the city gears up for several shifts in the way it handles parking enforcement. Omaha World-Herald

VT: Education chief’s report fuels debate. As Education Secretary Armando Vilaseca leaves his job at the end of this year, one of his final reports is sparking debate between the Ethan Allen Institute, a think tank that promotes free-market policies, and the Public Assets Institute, which champions publicly funded education. Rutland Herald

MI: Mich. prison food switch brings mixed reviews. One week after the launch of one of state government’s largest privatization moves in decades, prison officials said a contractor is doing a good job providing meals to Michigan’s 45,000 prisoners, but union leaders said the transition has been a rocky one. CorrectionsOne