March 13, 2014


Say goodbye to public schools: Diane Ravitch warns Salon some cities will soon have none.  In a wide-ranging conversation last week, Ravitch spoke with Salon about new data touted by charter school supporters, progressive divisions over Common Core, and Chris Christie’s ed agenda. “There are cities where there’s not going to be public education 10 years from now,” Ravitch warned. A condensed version of our conversation follows. Salon

Unions fear a ‘New Deal’ sell-off. Labor unions are going on the attack against a proposal buried deep in President Obama’s budget that they charge is a move to privatize the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA).  Established in 1933 and still owned by the federal government, the TVA is one of the lasting legacies of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s “New Deal,” providing electricity to more than 9 million people in seven Southern states. But while the utility is now self-financing, the government could pocket a hefty profit by selling its stake. Obama proposed studying that option in his last two budgets, angering a trio of major labor unions that have thousands of members at TVA facilities.  The Hill

Public Transit Use in the U.S. is Now Higher Than Private Vehicle Use. According to the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), Americans took 10.7 billion public transit trips in 2013, making it the highest ridership figure since 1956. Overall, the use of public transportation went up 1.1% in the last year, outpacing both population growth and private vehicle use. “There is a fundamental shift going on in the way we move about our communities. People in record numbers are demanding more public transit services and communities are benefiting with strong economic growth,” said APTA president Michael Melaniphy. PolicyMic

MI: Michigan fines Aramark $98,000 for prison food rule violations. A food service provider, already under fire for its handling of food and dealing with inmates, has been fined $98,000 for violating its contract, according to two state Department of Corrections letters released Tuesday. Aramark Corp., which took over Michigan prison food service operations late last year that eliminated union jobs, was fined after not getting approval to make meal substitutions 52 times, failing to make the appropriate number of meals 240 times and allowing 12 instances of poor staff conduct, according to two state letters addressed to the company dated March 6.  AFSCME Privatization Update

CA: Charter schools dealt setback by San Jose court ruling. The South Bay movement to fast-track the opening of charter schools has been dealt a setback, with a court ruling that county school boards can’t override local ordinances while deciding where to place campuses. San Jose Mercury News

PA: CLEAR Coalition Opposes Push to Privatize PASSHE. Legislation to allow some PA State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) institutions to privatize could cost thousands of Pennsylvania families access to a high quality, affordable college education, leaders of the CLEAR Coalition said today. The legislation would permit PASSHE universities with more than 7,000 students to leave the state system under certain prescribed conditions.  The universities would then be considered “state-related” which would result in skyrocketing tuition costs. “So many middle class and working families are struggling to make ends meet and pay college tuition bills. This legislation would make it that much more difficult for these hard-working Pennsylvania families,” said Dave Fillman, Executive Director of  the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Council 13 and Chair of the CLEAR Coalition.  PR Newswire

GA: Unlikely twins: Foster care bill may be merged with Medicaid expansion. A Senate-based bid to privatize Georgia’s child welfare system on Thursday may be joined to a high-profile House effort to give the Legislature say-so over Medicaid expansion. . . . SB 350 passed the Senate last month with a 31-18 vote, and would require the Division of Family and Children Services to bid out primary functions such as case management, family preservation and independent living. . . .The House Judiciary Committee passed a scaled-down version, calling instead for a two-year pilot program. Unterman decried the “pared down” version and disputed critics who have said the state was moving too fast.  .  .  .So Unterman intends to merge her foster care bill with HB 990, which is backed by the House’s top leadership. Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog)