April 3, 2014


Walton Family Foundation Puts $164 Million into Privatization. The Walton Family Foundation released its list of grantees in the education world, and once again, the foundation put its huge resources into privatizing American public education. The billions that hard-working families spend at Walmart are used to support privately managed charters and vouchers and to undermine democratic local control and traditional public schools. Some of the biggest recipients of the Walton family’s largesse are Teach for America (nearly $20 million), which staffs non-union charters; KIPP charter schools ($8.8 million); the Charter Fund, Inc. ($14.5 million); The Children’s Scholarship Fund (which gives our school vouchers) $8.56 million; and the California Charter School Association, $5 million. Parent Revolution got almost $2 million, the Black Alliance for Educational Options got $1.3 million. DianeRavich’sBlog

IN: INDOT takes stab at privatizing Amtrak route. The Indiana Department of Transportation has put out an open-ended request for proposals to privatize all or part of Amtrak’s Hoosier State train service between Chicago and Indianapolis. . . . Bidders can choose to bid on providing only part of the services provided by Amtrak or even come up with new ones, such as Wi-Fi on trains or food service, according to the request for proposals.  Nwitimes.com

CA: Assembly resolution blasts outsourcing . . .House Resolution 29 by Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez, D-Los Angeles, sets up it’s anti-outsourcing position with a number of findings: The policy undermines “the underpinnings of democracy itself” – transparency, accountability, and shared prosperity and competition. It gives taxpayers less say over government spending. And, the resolution says, contracting government business to private entities fuels what are often substandard wages for contract employees. . . . The resolution, which doesn’t have the force of law, “urges local officials to become familiar with the provisions of the Taxpayer Empowerment Agenda.” That agenda calls for government to be more accountable with its contracting agreements and to require contractors meet certain standards, such as paying contract employees a living wage. It also encourages governments to ban contract language that guarantees profits from government work. The agenda was developed by an affiliate of The Partnership for Working Families, a national coalition of community groups with ties to labor unions. Sacramento Bee

OH: Toledo council hearing on airport privatization canceled. The Treece family proposal to take over operations of Toledo Express Airport seemed last month to have traction with Rob Ludeman, the Toledo councilman overseeing economic development, but today he said a public hearing on the idea would be canceled. . . . Mayor Collins has said he has no plan to propose privatizing Toledo Express Airport. . . Dock Dave Treece said the meeting cancelation was “obviously a setback” but that they would continue to push for their privatization of the airport operations. Since their idea became public in October, the Treece airport initiative has attracted no significant business or political backing, and some national aviation experts have said airport privatization is not a growing trend and is a complicated project at best. Toledo Blade

MS: Ocean Springs Aldermen vote not to privatize public works. . .The news that the city was considering privatizing its Public Works Department had many city workers and citizens concerned. Many of them filled the meeting room at Tuesday’s Board of Aldermen meeting to make their concerns known. . .One of the many things workers were worried about was their retirement. . .  Public Works Director Andre Kaufman said many of his employees had already started looking for other jobs. . . . “I’ve got six people who work for me that worked for private companies from other cities and they say horror stories,” said Kaufman. Some residents also spoke about their experiences with public works. They noted the city’s reliability and flexibility when public works is called. They feared that experience would change if a private company were to take over. “To me, privatizing a major part of your city government is major, and I think that should be brought before the people,” said Ocean Spring’s resident Tim Emery. Aldermen said they will still look for ways to cut expenses.  WLOX

TX: “Stealth Privatization” of Dallas ISD Attracts Growing Opposition. . . WHEREAS Houston billionaire John Arnold, a hedge-fund manager and former Enron trader, is bankrolling an effort to transform all of the Dallas Independent School District into a so-called “home-rule charter district” that would not be subject to essential safeguards in state law for students, parents, teachers, and citizens of the district; WHEREAS John Arnold is notorious for funding a nationwide attack on public employees’ pension funds, including state pension funds for school employees, and for funding various efforts to privatize the operation of public schools, including substantial financing of organizations that promote private-school vouchers.  Hemlock on the Rocks